Art of Mom
Father’s Day is upon us. Such a dreadful time that stirs my emotions. I spent my childhood longing for the love of my own father. I watched him dote on my sisters and provide for them in his own stoic way, while he beat my mother and I equally. I was never a child. I remember I reached out to him for a hug around nine years old and he punched me in the face. The only time I remember him ever being tender with me was to soothe me after a stint of violence against me; while my mother whispered softly in the background….don’t tell anyone, daddy loves you…..After these beatings things would be still for awhile. He would ignore me or offer smiles in passing, until his hatred boiled over again. There was always eruption and I walked on eggshells waiting for it. The wait would be agonizing at times and I would pester him into beating me, just to break the tension…..why do you make him so mad? My mother’s voice again.
I will never understand my father or why I was so irrelevant. When I had my own son I vowed I would be the parent I never had.
I failed. I just don’t seem to get it. The whole “parenting” thing. I am constantly late and forgetful. I don’t understand teen culture and my son is now sixteen and I feel as though there is a stranger living with me at times. God I just want to hold him. Laugh with him again. Make a connection and I just can’t.
There is nothing wrong with my son. I wish I could say I did a good job. He is wonderful and quirky. He is an advanced student and I have never had a phone call from his school in the ten years he has been going. I can’t take credit. I was never the mother I should have been. I drank too much, stayed out to late, was probably neglectful….and somehow….he made it through. Became a stronger person. HE did that. I didn’t. I am selfish. Everything I never wanted to be, I have been, and I can’t take it back.
For a while I thought I was “doing everything right.” I worked long hours and put my ‘career’ first. We had money and a home. I got sick and lived to tell the tale, a little damaged but still here. I had a fiance I loved deeply who lived with my son and I for a time, along with his son. I loved them all. It crashed and burned. My son watched me cry for months. I think I fell apart a little after that.
I kept working and doing the best I could for a bit, but time passed. In order for me to sustain us I had to work long and hard. I was trying to attain something I couldn’t. A middle class life at an uneducated price. I was failing. I was never home, working odd hours just for a few cents ‘shift diff’. I missed everything in my son’s life. And that time, you just don’t get back.
Every shit job I have had has been abusive to me in body and soul. It comes at a cost. The older I get the more I realize if you are a blue collar person, you get zero respect. The older I get the more clearly I could see the world around me. I want a better future for my son and his possible family. I want a world where everyone is respected. The equity is spread, education is affordable, opportunities apply to all, xenophobia, and racism are dead. A world where a forty hour work week should be enough to thrive. I can’t work for these things if I am always working to live.
I have heard many stories about amazing people who conquer odds. They get educated, suffer homelessness, raise kids and work 60 hour weeks and graduate sum ma cume laude. I am not that amazing. I am just a mere mortal with a brain injury and most days my house is a mess and I am just beat dog tired.
I got fired last week after suffering a year of emotional abuse, harassment, and poor culture. I pushed limits most people would never push to be heard. When work told me to be quiet, I was not. I sent nasty emails and refused work assignments, was rude to everyone who crossed my path because my complaints were invalidated and shoved under a rug. Timken Aerospace is a conservative culture and if your values are Right and White or circa 1952, you will be a fabulous asset. I was not. I was afraid working there. Afraid anyone could come into my work space and swear at me, touch me, push up on me, or bother me in whatever way they chose because my work place allowed it. The culture is set up for males there and like my team lead once told me “boys will be boys…..”
You see, I am forty and fucking tired. Tired of being bothered, tired of other people being mistreated. Tired of Martin Luther King Day being cancelled. Tired of begging for vacations and being a touch hole for every pervy neanderthal. My son is entering the workforce and I want better for him. A better future overall.
So how can a shitty mother who has nothing turn it around? Stay unemployed, be poor. Don’t worry about the next bill or retirement. Go back to school and those creds behind your name and spend the last part of your life doing something to try to effect change.
So I am. I have no idea where my money will come from, I may lose my home and assets. I may be a survivor story who lives in her jeep with her dog. I may lose my son to his father who posses all the money in the world to provide for him. But I will graduate with those fucking credentials. I will keep writing. I will come back from the dead and use my new skills to try to do my best to make the world better. A place where we can ALL take part in the ‘American Dream’.
To all the mothers I see who have it all together. The ones who seem to know what being a mother is all about, all the mothers I wanted to be and could never be because I just don’t know how. I envy you. What a gift to have such a natural talent because mothering is hard. It is an art. If no one tells you this father’s day how special you are, and how a dad is an extension of you, I will say thank you. Also if you see my son around could you give him some tenderness? I am so bad at it. I am going to work extra hard for all of us mothers. I am getting this education for each of us. So our kids can have a better future.
To the mothers like me, who love deep and can’t seem to get it together. I am rooting for you as well. No one teaches us how to be mothers. We do the best we can.
To my son if he is reading this, wait for me. Someday you will be proud of your hippy poor mom who defied the American dream. Your mother loves you and is imperfect.