Friday, October 8, 2010

In Defense Of My Mother

I don’t and won’t spend a lot of time defending either of my parents.  For the most part I have witnessed very little regret or remorse from either party, they each feel equally justified and that the other one is to blame for our family going so terribly off track, my sister's running away and my time in the foster care system as a ward of the state.  There were also us kids to blame, if we weren’t so god-damned needy everything would have been just fine.  Well, we were kids, and being kids makes one very childish.  I admit, if I would have just understood that their wants were more important then my needs their lives would have been much better.  

My mother was “raised” for some time by an alcoholic father who abused and neglected her.  She thinks she remembers her mother who just disappeared one day.  She and her sister were taken away from their father and placed in foster care.  She/they were in something like 9 foster homes in one year.  To my recollection I have never heard her tell any happy foster home stories.

My grandparents had two kids of their own, a nine year old girl named Joyce, and my uncle who was around 14 when Joyce drowned in the local swimming hole.  Now, I am never sure how this happens or why people think it is a good idea to replace a lost puppy or child with a new one, but apparently people do.  After Joyce’s death my grandparents decided to adopt a new daughter, my aunt, so the story goes.  Instead they were told that if they wanted my aunt they had to take my mom as well.  My mother was 12 years old when my grandparents reluctantly adopted her.  

How my uncle must have felt about losing a sister and then having two replacement sisters forced on him, I do not know.  It seems to me that would be a lot to deal with in the face of such grief.  I am sure he was never consulted. I never once remember anyone ever mentioning Joyce’s name in my grandparents’ house.  Not one picture of the lost Joyce was ever visible.  I assume my uncle was just expected to move on with his two new replacement sisters like everything was as it should be.  

I loved my grandparents, they were what I knew.  My grandpa was great fun.  My grandma was always distant and not much of a kid person as I remember her.  My mother’s stories of growing up in their house pretty much go along those lines.  My grandma really only wanted one of them and my mother felt the burden of that on a daily basis.  My mother was lucky and should be grateful that they had brought her along, albeit reluctantly. 

My parents were from the small town of Tecumseh, the Koffrons lived a block behind my mom’s parents.  My dad was the star football player and quite the catch for my mom.  Being pretty, my mom wasn’t a bad catch for my dad either.  I assume they were in love, at least at some point.  They married young and had my older sister, quickly. 

What I do remember about my mom while my parents were together was that she tried.  She tried so hard to be a great mother, a great wife, a great friend and neighbor, as if she were up for some great____ award. She tried desperately at that time to be everything she had no idea how to be.  

I called my mother a couple of weeks ago to check some details about my childhood with her. (I rarely talk to my mother; too much has passed between us.  While on some level I understand her limitations, her primal wounds and her issues, I still wish she would have, at some point, been able to get a hold of herself and do better by her kids. Lest we forget she gave me a primal wound of my own.)  During the conversation I brought up how hard she tried when she was married to my dad, and I asked what happened, why she just quit – gave up?  Her answer floored me…she had tried that hard, she did all that stuff for us and it was never appreciated.  

Oh-My-God!  We were 6, 8, and 12, when she gave up and left…because we were ungrateful!  Because her husband and children were unappreciative of all of her sacrifices, she stopped trying.  But MOM, that IS being a mother!  I don’t know one single mother who feels like they are truly appreciated by their children.  Not one wife who thinks their husbands understand the kind of sacrifices she makes.  Maybe, some of us don’t feel unappreciated, but maybe less than fully understood.    

For a couple of weeks now…"and no one appreciated it"…has been bouncing around in my brain like a pinball.  How fricking immature can you be?  You have got to be kidding me!  Seriously?  Even after all this time that makes sense?  You have never been compelled to re-evaluate that?  Nobody in your support group has called you to task on that idiotic premise

Then it hit me today.  Thanks in large part to Linda at REAL DAUGHTER/ADOPTED DAUGHTER.  Adoptees/ foster children are supposed to be grateful and appreciative to be taken in.  They are lucky to be fed, clothed and have a roof over their heads, any more than that is over and above what any waif should expect.   I have seen and resented that attitude myself, but some how I hadn’t related that to my mother or how that affected her expectations as a mother, until today.  That is what my mother grew up with.  That is the sentiment she knows.  That was what was expected of her, that is what she expected of us.  My mother came through the system a long time ago; (at least 25 years before I did) she didn’t have any help adjusting, no therapy or any validation of her loss.  She was expected to replace a dead child.  My mother was set up for failure.        


Linda said...


Just Me said...

I understand growing up and being expected to be grateful. It sucks.

Von said...

You bet she was and all her issues, undealt with, made her the parent she was/is.The damage of adoption rolls on down the years and affects the next generation.It's tough and so good you see it so clearly that it will help you now.
Have a good week....

Anonymous said...

Wow Sunday.....I read this and don't know what to say it explains alot about our moms and is still a lot to swallow as a explanation of the hurt and dissapointment they caused in our childhoods. I am going to have to let this sink in and think about it in more length and then comment agian. Thank you so much for your insight on things I truelly think you are an incredible woman.

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

First Anonymous, thank you. I know while our mothers had almost exactly the same lives they were different people, and no it is not an excuse, just my understanding of how the came to be who they were as our parents.

Kitty said...

First I would like to say that the only reason I commented on the blog under anonymous is I did not have a google account. Lazy I know that I did not feel like setting one up to post my comment but was certian that Sunday would know who I was. That being said.... I have reread what you posted on this subjuct and do not even understand what you stepmom is trying to defend you spoke to nothing that had even the slightest to do with her. You were explaining how you feel your mom came to be the person she is.....someone is feeling very guilty for unspoken reasons is my feeling.

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

(((Kitty))) of course I knew it was you who else had a mother raised with our mother? I totally understand that most people who comment anonymously do so for the same reasons that you did. I am not against anyone having their opinions heard, even if I think they are way off base. It is sad that the truth makes people so uncomfortable.

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