Saturday, February 12, 2011

I have my mother's hands.

I have my mother's hands. They are small, but not dainty. They are peasant hands. The nails are never all the same length, or size, or shape no matter how I try to care for them. Despite my mother's voice running in my head about pushing my cuticles back after a bath, my cuticles are always torn and ragged. When I am nervous I pick at them. It is a nasty habit, and one that leaves ragged tears around each nail. Especially the nail of my right thumb. I worry that one alot.
So, they are not pretty, but they are functional. I like how they feel when I walk hand in hand with my husband. They just feel nice. I used to like walking hand in hand with my mother. It was like holding my own hand.
My relationship with my mother was, and is, fraught with pain and sadness, and sometimes deep anger. When I hear my siblings talk fondly of her I don't quite know what to do, or say. Their experiences aren't mine. She could be lovely to have tea with years and years ago, and she loved to tell naughty stories. My friends and my husband and my children liked my mother. She was witty, and could be charming. She was always friendly and kind to shop keepers, and waiters.
She wasn't always friendly and kind to me. And yet, she was my mother. And the mother to my five siblings, and many orphans, both young and old, along the way. She provided well, taught me to sew, bought me my first, and only sewing machine, that I still have, and love to use. She was a good cook, not a great cook, but a good cook, and her soups were comforting, as was her home-made bread. It is not that I don't have some happy memories of time spent with her. I do. I truly do.
But still, and all, I look at the relationship that others have with their mothers, even the relationship that some of my siblings had with our mother, and I am sad to not have had that too. Not to have been in relationship with my mother.
Recently I read something my sister had written about our mother. It was poignant, and despite the pain I know was present in that relationship, there was still evidence of a deep and abiding love. I do not have that.
I realized around the time of my mother's 60th birthday that I didn't like her very much. If fact, I didn't love her. And how do you live with that? Not loving your mother. What kind of person am I? In admitting that out loud to my husband I felt like I had said something so profoundly wrong, and yet, in speaking this truth, for myself there was some kind of liberation.
She was an amazing woman in many ways. Living and loving my father could not have been any kind of easy. Raising six children could not have been any kind of easy. Having to battle to keep her status in her own family of 5 sisters and 1 brother could not have been any kind of easy. Watching her husband of 32 years die at the age of 49 could not have been any kind of easy.
Being her daughter was not any kind of easy.
I have my mother's hands. I see them everyday doing a million different things. I have my mother's hands.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Add your thoughts....join the conversation.