Scarred, Flawed,But Still Mom

May 12, 2015

Scarred, flawed, but still Mom

The word/idea/reality “mother” conjures up so many possibilities: biological, surrogate, adopted, step, foster, godmother, evil, sainted, overbearing, treasured, friend, enemy. Some of us had great mothers, who nurtured, protected and encouraged. Others had less than wonderful moms, who belittled and tore/wore us down. And most of us grew up somewhere between.

Daughters often have more difficult relationships with mothers than sons do. We work hard to “not be like her” in any way. Girls want to be separate from Mom, smarter, more able, and so the struggle for independence and difference starts early and can last a lifetime. Each generation brings remnants of the generation before it and the current generation simply adds to the mix for the next generation to sort out.

I am no different.

My mother and father survived Nazi prison camps. I know that my mother loved me, the first surviving child following a preemie born almost 70 years ago, before science could save him, and the string of miscarriages that followed. Our sadness is the damage inflicted by war and the many kinds of loss she endured, which had an enormous effect on her ability to cope with the stress of surviving yet losing almost all her family, moving to a different country, learning a new language, helping to provide for her family.

The list of stressors is long.

My sister and I learned at a young age to tread carefully, as children of survivors learn to keep things as calm as possible and not unleash the hidden, damaged woman within. “Why did I survive Hitler’s bombs to have miserable children like you?” We didn’t hear it often, and yet we heard it often enough.

My sister and I grew up and became successful adults, as required and expected. We have grown children now. We both took the remnants of our upbringing and did our best to not pass it on to the next generation. I have a son; my sister has 2 boys and a girl. And we both hope that our children will not carry the unintentional real scars we have.

Many of my friends have already lost their mothers, and miss them, and remind us to cherish ours.

Sadly my sister and I have already lost our mother in a different way. Mama is 92+ and she has dementia. As difficult as she was, she was also smart and engaged in the world around her. She learned how to use a computer when she was in her 70s, reading newspapers from all over the world and staying in touch with other survivors she knew. We hold her hand now, and make sure she is safe and loved and cared for. We still tread carefully, though, lest we hear about Hitler’s bombs.

And yet, she is still our mother, flawed though she may be. And who of us isn’t flawed in some way? So Mama, I know that you are in there, somewhere, and that you won’t be with us much longer and I say to you, “Happy Mother’s Day, always!”

Drop me a line at[1] and tell me about your mother.

Featured photo

Stock photo of an older woman.

Article printed from Orange County Breeze:

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