I am surrounded by so many wonderful women in my life, and with the passing of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of what I should be, unconditionally, grateful for. I look to my mother, to my boyfriend’s mother, to the mothers of my friends, to grandmothers and aunts. I can’t help but feel so much gratitude for all that they’ve sacrificed, and continue to sacrifice, for the children they’ve so selflessly sculpted into the wonderful human beings I love so much.
On a psychological level, there’s the definitive function of the mother figure. Maternal preoccupation, as theorized, is a necessary motherly instinct that helps in the formation of the child’s psyche. On a less analytical level, we all, eventually, become our mothers for a reason. My anal, at times frantic, desire for a well-swept floor no doubt came from my mother’s post-natal maternal preoccupation that lasted from birth until this very moment- which included her surrounding me, and at times bombarding me, with home-centric rhetoric on cleanliness. I am anxious, which is something I didn’t wish to inherit though; but whether it’s biological or psychological, I did. I’m also overtly caring and sensitive beyond my own control and these are things I can thank my mother for.
Support, in the terms we so often think of it- financial -wasn’t always an option for my mother. I’m one of four on my mother’s side, and sometimes the bills were overwhelming and the paychecks were underwhelming. I saw my mother cry often, and at times I felt the burden of her single parenthood in moments of my childhood. This might sound toxic or debilitating to my wee self’s development, but in my bigness, I have grown to find that I not only empathize with my mother’s actions but I appreciate them. I watched her work hard, not so that I didn’t have to, but so that I knew how to. I gained from her a work ethic that most of my bosses praise, and I gained from her also a sense of responsibility and pride in my own accomplishments. It wasn’t an easy childhood, but it was rewarding. I know now that while life may not always come up roses, you can always adorn it with fake Dollar Store roses so that the neighbors think you’re fancy.
I also thank my mother for the things she couldn’t do; the things that made me angry when I was younger but now relish in as an adult. I can remember hating having to babysit, but as I’ve grown older and have left the house I’ve found that my siblings look to me as something of an authority figure, someone they can look up to and towards. I’ve become a solicitor of thrifty advice (“Nathan, if you join a bunch of clubs, Mom won’t ask you do the floors every day!”) and a purchaser for the forbidden (“The hamster was only $15, it’s an investment in her future!”). I know how to change diapers and make awesome pancake breakfasts, and I have great patience with little people, sometimes more than I’d like. I had to be independent, and I know I can be depended upon, and all because of my mother.
As I'm writing this, it is my mother’s birthday, she’s turning fort----thirty. It is the 15th time we’ve celebrated her thirtieth birthday, and it is the 19th time I have owed my mother more than I could ever repay her.