Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Bowl of Spaghetti on Mother's Day

I heard an interview with someone (do not remember who) on a radio program (do not remember which one ) several years ago, at least ten. The men are from Mars women are from Venus theory was being discussed. The guest commented - (I am 57 now and this was ten years ago, so my 'recollection' is of only the talking point that resonated the strongest with me) - that she views men's brains as boxes, everything compartmentalized and concrete. Defined borders and restrictions. Issues dealt with one at a time, able to put aside the personal while dealing with social or business situations. Women's brains were described as being like bowls of spaghetti. Everything intertwined, with emotion and intuition and empathy holding equal space with analytics and concrete and irrefutable facts. On this Mother's Day in the month that I am celebrating the women in my life, I present to you some of my messy bowl of spaghetti. This is where my mind has been today, and some thoughts and beliefs I hold about being a woman, and perhaps a bit about how I came to be who I am as of this day and hour. Who knows what Ellen will be tomorrow? She doesn't! 

I took my mother an everlasting bamboo today for Mother's Day (she also received a bag of sugar free orange candies and a greeting card with butterflies on it.) As is true in many families I have observed, plants, flowers, candy, and cards are the way her children honor her on the second Sunday in May every year. While I was there I assisted her with her noon meal - I got there about 11 AM - and yelled in her right ear for a bit before I came home. Her hearing aid is in her right ear, and you still have to yell. But she is 83 and uses a walker, so she is allowed. 

My younger brother was there when I arrived, it was nice to see him. I have been angry with and disappointed in him for several years. I believe this was the first time I had seen him in quite a while, but we were civil to one another. That was a little bonus gift for Mom. 

I have two friends who are both spending their first Mother's Day without their mother. E's mother passed away about 11 months ago, and S lost her mother just last month. I also have two friends who had just one son. R's son passed away a couple of years ago and C lost her son a month ago. They all four have been in my thoughts all day. I saw R earlier, and she just teared up and fell into my arms. It just ripped my heart when she sobbed, "Ellen, his birthday and Mother's Day are the hardest". I had no words, so I just held onto her for several minutes. Then she helped me choose the card I was getting for Mom. S just spoke to the bulk of her friends and acquaintances of the loss of her mother, and has decided that Mother's Day henceforth will be celebrated and had such beautiful words of her mother's attributes.

M is an amazing young woman who has honored me by remarking once or twice that I am like a second mother to her. She is not a mother, but her niece and nephew could not be loved more that she loves them. R is part of my heart, also childless. She has two cousins that are her heart, and she would give all she is and has to protect them the depth of love she holds for them is so true. 

I know women who have had stressful and anxiety ridden relationships with their mothers and as a result are honest and compassionate and tender in their interactions with all children. And yet I know women who have been unable to escape the patterns and lifestyles they were imprinted with and live adulthood in addiction and abuse because they know no other way. I have seen women who had every traditional advantage who grew to be dispassionate, unable to develop any real emotional connection with their offspring. And yet I know women who had loving, kind, comfortable childhoods and are providing the same to their own children.  

There are wild, fierce, strong women in my life who face storms with resilience yet falter and fold when the storms are spent and their rest is at hand. 

I am not quite sure where I fit in all of this. Much of the time I feel more an observer than a participant, yet every giggle and every tear from the women in my life resonates deep within my own tangled bowl of noodles. I am acutely aware of my failures and shortcomings over the last 57 years, and often shrug off and paste on a smile when I am reaping the results of my past. I cry often, yet few ever see. I take the disregard from people I long to notice me as being my due. But I also rebel and speak loud when those very ones are slighted by others. 

You know, I used to think there would be a mystical age that once I was there all the doubts would be eased, all my questions would be answered, all my efforts would be rewarded. That one day the lessons learned and the travails withstood would bring wisdom. But I now see myself needing to know more, speak less, listen better. 

Today I helped my mother wash her hands. I have her long fingers, and it struck me that the 25 years that separate us in age is not nearly as large a gap as I once thought it was. It made me sad, and scared me. 

And there you have it, a big messy bowl of spaghetti for Mother's Day.

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