Thursday, November 5, 2009

What does it mean to be a good mother

My mom and I were talking and she said that this lady X should stay home to raise her kids and not go to work, because it is so hard to find good baby sitters and kids need good care. And so far, this family didn't have good luck finding a good sitter.

I said: how dare you say that she should stay home, when you yourself never stayed home but went to work. And you left your kids with the baby sitter you knew was bad. My father's mother took care of us, and you found her beating me up with a stick as a baby in the play pan, and still, you kept on going to work, did not stay home. You wanted your financial independence.

My mom said: well, I found her beating you up only once. .... WEll, she also beat up your father...

I said: well - once is never once. If you see her beat me up once, she must do it all the time.

My mom said (and very quickly, justifying herself): if it weren't for my work years, now I wouldn't have the pension and me and your father would go hungry. His pension is nothing. Mine is good.

I didn't say anything. I was thinking:

1. my mother hated my grandmother and always fought with her. She told me about all kinds of bad things my grandma tried to do to her, like kick her out of the house, etc. She herself always told me how my grandmother was evil and bad and crooked and all those things. She hated my grandmother.

2. She knew that grandma was known for beating up my father. My father was deaf and my grandma taught him to speak well by beating him up for every single mistake he made. He learn quickly to speak properly. My mother found grandma beating me up too.

And yet my mother didn't do anything to protect her own children. Her own survival was more important than the survival of her kids.

Also, later I connected the dots: I was always sick as a child, I had a bronchitis every year, strep throat once or twice per year, nose completely clogged up, always pale and skinny and weak, always recovering from some infection. As a teenager ended up with a "hum"in my lungs, which was quite scary, because if they didnt' do something about it, it could have turned into something really nasty.

But my mother never stayed home. In fact, she didn't even take care of me after work either. It was my problem, not hers. She was too busy with her own life. Not that she was really busy - she was busy coming home, eating, and then going to bed. First of all, her job was just a simple clerk job, so she didn't make very much, and she just had to sit in a crowded office which she hated and often got sick from (they all smoked like chimneys) and she had to jot down a few things every day. It was 5 women sitting in an office which was at most 10x10. Smoking was allowed. They talked bad, they smoked, it was so awful, I could barely stand just visiting them for a short while. Sitting there for 35 years would be ... At home too, my mother didn't have to do very much. My grandma cooked and cleaned the house, my father dusted and vacuumed and did all the shopping and also did the laundry and everything about the car, etc. He and grandma did everything about the house, the the taxes, the yard, etc.

The only thing my mom had to do is to cook on the weekends, clean the kitchen and bathroom on the weekends, and clean her own bedroom, and iron the clothes. Her room was a complete disaster, clothes were piled up all over in a complete and total mess, it was never cleaned. Well, I ironed and did laundry too, so she didn't have to do that much either. I had to do all the cleaning and dusting in my "room" which was not really my room, it was a hallway leading to the summer lanai. I took care of my closet, which I finally got one day. My closet was neat and organized. I could not stand my mother's sloppiness.

So my mom really had very little responsibilities. She never asked me what I ate, what I wore, if I did my hwk. She never asked me if I brushed my teeth, etc. She never even visited me when I was sick. I vaguely remember maybe sometimes she would bring the medication at night, and that was it, and it was rushed and rude. She never said how are you doing honey, how can I help you. Maybe she made me a tea sometimes. I don't remember her ever sitting down with me checking how I was doing. I never got any b-day presents or even happy b-day. The only person who remembered was my grandma, the same one who beat me up.

When I was younger, my mother did some things after work, like visit friends or go to the taylors (she had a lot of clothes made, she was really - and still is - into "looking good to the public). Maybe after my age of 8?, she came home from work, ate, then went to bed, where she was doing nothing - not even reading. Just laying there, half asleep. She was in bed from 5pm till 6am the next morning when she got up and went to work. If I wanted to talk with her, I could sit in the room on the side of the bed and talk. She wasn't sick. She was just majorly depressed, totally wound up in her own self pity.

One baby died (it was a major disaster in the hospital, because of no sanitation about 20 babies died) when I was 7. After that, my mother was very depressed. Then she became instantly pregnant with my brother, which carried through the epidemics of variola vera (i.e. big pox - deadly virus) in town - we all had to be vaccinated, there were special quarantine locations, etc on top of that and my mother worked next to the Infectious Diseases hsopital where the disease started (someone went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and brought it back) and many doctors/nurses/patients died. Then my brother was born and almost died. I don't remember what she did when he was born, because I never saw her for several years during which time two babies were born and one died. I was not allowed into her/my fathers bedroom at all and my mother barely came out. I think after all that was all over, she just continued being stuck in that room.

Even when I was way younger, I NEVER remember seeing my mother in the living room. The ONLY time she ever went to the living room was during holidays when we had guests. If there was no guests, my mother was only in the kitchen or the bedroom.

So, it is quite amazing to remember all that. My mother (and father too) were completely self centered. Although functional and healthy, they never paid attention to their kids. They left us growing up in chaos, and totally on our own. I am not going to tell you what it does to children.

It is amazing I am alive and well. Something has led me and made sure I succeeded. It was definitely a hard road to walk, starting from such a big disadvantage of not being loved and never being trained.

I cannot even phantom how kids of alcoholic or drug or whatever parents must feel and what they learned and saw. It must be quite difficult to overcome all that.

And yet - Yogananda's mother died when he was ... 5? I think. And yet Yogananda didn't close his mind and heart, didn't succumb to the chaos. He turned more to Divine Mother and turned into a saint.

How we respond to events is how we are inside. If there is somehow something genuine and loving inside, it guides you through the difficult times. We are never left alone.

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