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Memories of Mother’s Day May 15, 2006

Posted by table4five in Uncategorized.

Before I start my belated Mother’s Day post, I’d like to thank everyone who commented on yesterday’s post about my husband’s birthday. I read him all the comments and he says thanks to everybody. Bonus points go to Dawn and Beth for recognizing the card game Chris and Ryan are playing as “Magic:The Gathering”.

When I was a kid, Mother’s Day meant going out for brunch, and giving my Mom carefully selected cards and a gift that we pretended was from us when it was really bought by my Dad. Holidays and occasions like Mother’s Day required an even higher level of expectation as far as our behavior was concerned. We dressed carefully for brunch, sat quietly while eating, never raised our voices so that anyone at any other table could hear our conversation. There was to be no calling attention to ourselves in any way. If we were tired, or didn’t feel good, it didn’t matter. It was like acting, like being in a play called “The Perfect Family”. It was hard.

My Mother was difficult to say the least. She had an extremely inflexible set of rules and expected behaviors for us. She was diabetic from the time she was 7, and tried several times to carry a pregnancy. After three miscarriages she carried a baby for 6 months and then went into premature labor. He was born dead and is buried in a tiny grave in the same cemetery as the rest of my Mother’s family. She and my Father went to Lutheran Social Services and applied for adoption. They wanted a baby girl. My sister was born on December 8 and was given to my parents the day after Christmas, 1965.

Three years later, Social Services called my parents saying they had another baby girl to place that was blonde and blue-eyed like their first daughter. That was me. I was 16 months old. My parents thought my sister would be thrilled to get a baby sister. She bit me on the hand the first week and I still have the scar.

When I was seven and my sister nine, my parents saw a feature in the Detroit Free Press called “Tuesday’s Child”. It profiled a hard-to-place child that needed adopting. This story was about a nine year old diabetic boy. My parents thought they could give him the home and family he needed. It would turn out to be one of the worst decisions they ever made.

I’m telling you this because my sister and I have often wondered why my Mother adopted us in the first place. Although she adored and doted on each of the students she taught in elementary school for 30 years, she did not adore or dote on any of us. There was no hugging, no “I Love You”. The closest I ever got to a compliment from her is when she would make me play the piano for her friends and then stiffly hug me with one arm and say “doesn’t she play beautifully?”

When I read stories written by women who are blessed with amazing, loving Mothers and Mothers-in-law who truly love and cherish them, it’s like reading about aliens. I just absolutely cannot relate at all. Go over to Belinda’s site Ninja Poodles and read her post from Wednesday, May 10, 2006 called “‘M’ Is For The Many Things…”. Get a box of Kleenex first. Then go over to Very Mom and read her Mother’s Day post about her Mom who loves her just the way she is.

I don’t put any expectations on my family for Mother’s Day. Some years we can afford to do more than other years. This year, I celebrated Mother’s Day by being a Mother. For breakfast I cooked chocolate chip pancakes and bacon for the boys and their friends and myself. Chris wanted BLT’s for lunch, because MORE BACON, so I made those. We invited my Dad over for dinner to celebrate Chris’ birthday, so I baked a chicken and some vegetables and made a salad.

Some people might think I shouldn’t have done all that work on a day that is supposed to be about celebrating me. But you know, I enjoyed it. Giving my family delicious homemade meals makes me happy. And I did get presents after all:

A handmade card, “The Best of Sade” CD, and DKNY “Be Delicious” body lotion. That lotion is the first thing I’ve ever owned by DKNY. There was a perfume sample card stuck in the Saturday paper, I rubbed it on my wrists and Ryan saw me and asked what I was doing. I had him smell the perfume and said I liked it but it was too expensive to buy right now. Ryan told Chris, and off they went to the Mall to buy it. The lotion smells like apples. I love it.

I am trying very, very hard not to put too much pressure on my boys. I’m not concerned about looking like the perfect family. That doesn’t mean they can behave badly, whether we’re in public or not, but I see them for the little people they are. I know they have opinions, and feelings, and I want to know what they are. I want to know what they’re thinking, what they find funny, which movie they want to watch. I’ll punch the buttons on the car stereo until we find a station playing music we all like. If I yell at them, I apologize. They see me make mistakes, fall down, pick myself back up. I cry in front of them and then explain why. I let them cry in front of me.

I’m not the perfect Mother. Christ, I’m far from it. I might be making mistakes I won’t know about until I’m very old and the boys start telling me all the things they hate about me. Or they might grow up to write blog posts or whatever will be around in 20 or 30 years about me and how much they love me. I fear the former, I hope for the latter.

If my biological mother hadn’t died shortly after giving birth to me, if my biological father didn’t have four other children he couldn’t take care of, if I hadn’t gone to foster care and then been adopted, I would have been a completely different person in a completely different place. I wouldn’t have met Chris, I wouldn’t have given birth to my beautiful children. Because of the Mother I had, I became the Mother I am now. So for that, I guess I am grateful to her.



1. Fraulein N - May 16, 2006

Going by the way you talk about your kids, I think you’re an awesome mother. While I wasn’t adopted, my mother was/is kind of like yours. When I read about women who have these awesome relationships with their mothers, I’m bewildered and, I admit, a little jealous. For a long time the very idea of motherhood appalled me, because I didn’t know anyone who actually planned for or enjoyed it. Believe it or not, reading blogs has made to start to rethink a lot of my long-held beliefs.

I think the fact that Ryan was attentive and thoughtful enough to get you something you mentioned wanting (in passing!) is just one of the ways you can see you done good.

2. mothergoosemouse - May 16, 2006

Elizabeth, I will tell you what my mother told me on the phone a few weeks ago:

M: Do you remember when you asked me what you did to deserve such wonderful children?

J: Yes.

M: I know what it was.

J: What?

M: You survived having us as your parents.

My parents were not good role models in the parenting department. Work ethic – yes. Morals and values – yes. But other areas? No.

We got past it. I have forgiven, and for the most part I’ve forgotten. But it’s good to see that they have the benefit of hindsight being 20/20 and can respect my parenting skills in light of their own mistakes.

You are a wonderful mother. Truly.

3. mama_tulip - May 16, 2006

There were so many things that my mother did that I don’t want to do to my kids. I think about it every day. She wasn’t perfect, but she was a good mom.

I think the same about myself. I’m not perfect, but I’m a good mom.

You are a great mother, raising great kids.

4. Nancy - May 16, 2006

I know you’re a wonderful mom, Elizabeth. I can see it in the pictures of your family, I can hear it in the stories you tell. It’s unfortunate that you were raised in a household without a lot of affection, but it sounds like you have completely compensated with your own kids. I think that’s amazing.

5. TB - May 16, 2006

Wow Elizabeth. It is truly amazing how you are able to take such a negative and make it into something wonderful. I’m sorry for what you experienced as a little girl. And I am sure that you are an incredible mother despite not having a good role model and that really says something about the person you are.
Thanks for sharing this.

6. Mary Tsao - May 17, 2006

I say, “wow,” too. You are such a great mother and obviously a warm and caring person, too. And you sound more mature than your mother because you are able to be grateful to her instead of just resentful, which you have every right to be.

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day! I’m so glad I am going to get the chance to meet you in person!

7. sweet rose - May 17, 2006

Exceptional piece. I knew things were different when we had assigned seats at your wedding. It was the first wedding I’d been to where that was the case. You may some day understand your mom better. For years I had a lot of anger for my dad but when he died I began to understand why he did what he did. I first had to forgive him. This blog thing is opening a lot of doors. I met someone in India who has been writing me. She says they have yoga camps there. Hope we can see you in June. Plan to drive there after a week at Silver Lake. Want to camp near Lansing and spend a day or two. Want to see Muffin before she is an old lady.

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