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Oh those apron strings

June 24, 2007

You give birth or acquire via various means to children that slowly grow up to be people all unto their own who begrudgingly need you and love you. I can assert this with confidence having been a child to parents. In my experience I have had so many confusing and unusual experiences with my parents that it makes me wonder am I the person I am despite that or because of it? Now that my mother is dead and the keeper of all things that were exclusively me, what sentry stands there at the gate of my personhood to say “yes” or “no” to various events? I miss that communal feeling I had with my mother and father. My mannerisms were just like my mother and rightly so since I spent my time almost exclusively with her. I look just like my father and those Lithuanian genes are mighty strong.

Today on the way home from the store I looked out of my car window and saw the blue almost cloudless sky, birds landing on sunlit sparkly grass, home folk sitting on their porches, mowing their lawns and admiring there summer gardens while chatting with a neighbor. One couple I saw on their porch swing seemed deep in conversation as I watched them during a redlight. An older woman and young girl looked intently into each others faces talking slowly enjoying the temperate summer day.

There is something powerful in the female to female relationship. My relationship with my mother, lost almost 10 years ago now, was filled with contradiction, strife, love, power and humor. I found it very hard to form long and strong relationships and friendships with other women while my mother was around. She was the first person I called when something amazingly terrible or terrific happened. Although I wanted to be nothing like her I wanted her approval and acceptance more than I wanted to breathe. There is a longing that I still have and yet unfulfilled now that my mother is dead. I find myself trying to fill that space with my own children. Will I smother them? Will I damage them? Will they grow up to hate that they love me?

I feel robbed of a kind of adulthood I imagined I would have. Finally, as  a grown-up person, I would have an equal relationship with my mother. A mature and secure relationship with my father. I would be grown and adult and impervious to the petty differences that seemed to cause so much trouble for us. I would be a bigger person. More able to be filled with tolerance and understanding. It would be up to me to finally give up the ghost of adolescence and suck it up and let whatever happened in the past–just go. I would have this adult life to worry about and what happened in the past would stay there and be just a stone in my foundation instead of the open doors and windows that my feelings just flew in and out of. I would use all that to my advantage and my past would be there to serve me instead of the other way around.

So now I find myself with a family of my own. Children that love me even when I am mean and loose my patience and say no a million times a day just because I have found a groove of negativity and can’t get out of it. I feel so connected to my children in many ways and worry that those apron strings will feel like a noose to them eventually. Am I withholding? Do I judge too much? Do I let them be who they are and do they feel my appreciation for their existence?

I say to my son many times that I am glad he was born to me. He is the first. He was the only one and had my devotion and attention as a constant companion. I try to do things with just him sometimes to remind him of that time that it was just he and I and his dad. I like it when it is just us. I caught myself saying that to my daughter the other day and her reply caught me off guard completely and she said in response, “Yes and it is even better when brother is here too. You like it when brother is here with me.” I realized she has never known the singular pleasure of having parents exclusively to herself and I am now so grateful for this revelation. I think that is what I was missing all this time and why the pressure seemed too intense between my mother and I. I had no siblings on that side. No one to distract her from focusing on what I was doing and thinking and feeling and the same for me. I had no sibling to commiserate with, to take the focus off me for  a while or to turn to after her death.

Not only did I loose the person who knew everything about me but I also became the only  person to remember my mother as the whole person she was–A mother, a friend, an enemy and companion. My mother’s power over my mind and emotions is still so powerful and I am fearful that the apron strings that hold me will become unraveled and her presence will be lost to me forever.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2007 9:34 pm

    The apron.

    It protects and shields. A uniform, disguise. Some are only worn from the waist down, others full body, and then there is the French maid’s tiny one. Hmmmmm…

    Are we to assume then, that when it is gone we feel vulnerable, naked even, our true selves, revealed?

  2. June 25, 2007 3:41 am

    The mom/kid relationship is so powerful that I think that probably you haven’t been robbed of the adult relationship with your mom. I think it might be just a dream and that in reality, if she were still here, your relationship would be the same as it was. The undercurrents of emotion and the tapestry of hurts and needs is so tight that it’s very hard to change, even as an adult.

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