My vacation is over.  😦  Oh well, I will have more days off.  When I left work for vacation, I made the conscious choice to have a peaceful and joyful time.  I most definitely did that.  When I got up Monday to return to work, my body ached so badly.  I was irritable and grumpy and came home crying.  Yesterday was a bit better and during my therapy session I brought it up.  It really felt like the grief I’d saved up during my vacation had come back to hit me in the head. 

The beautiful part of this is that I left the session making a choice to hold onto a good moment with my mom and use it as a symbol of the mom she could have been if she hadn’t come from the same place I came from.  Gawd, that’s probably a run on sentence and I’m simply too tired to deal with it!

My mom was not a nice woman.  She was angry and withdrawn most of the time.  She kept to herself and lived the end of her life in a way I hope I never see again.  My prayer is that when it is my time, I will live my last years with grace and kindness you know?  I am totally paranoid about acting the way my Mom acted most of the time.  When I was in the hospital a year and a half ago to have my gall bladder removed and then back again a week later to deal with the blockage caused by a renagade gall stone that escaped during the procedure, I was terrified.  Even with all that, I kept telling everyone who came into my room that I didn’t want to act horrible like my mom and to please, please smack me upside of the head if I got out of control!  They, of course, all looked at me like “honey, it’s ok, the drugs do this shit sometimes” and I just kept talking!  Anyway, that was quite an aside eh? 

The point is my mom was NOT NICE.  I’m sure she was trying however she missed the mark more often than not.  During my session the conversation turned to the fact that whenever my mom would give me a gift, it was always…well…wrong.  She once took me shopping for a vacuum cleaner.  I needed a vacuum cleaner.  She asked me which one I wanted and I picked it out after trying alot of them.  Mom said “Oh, but this kind works so much better.” and pointed out one like she had.  I didn’t want that one.  As we were leaving the store, she said “or I could get you a microwave.”  I had three small children at the time and thought “a microwave?!  how cool…do you know how much easier that would make dinnertime?”  I said I’d rather have the microwave.  So, the next week came and it was our anniversary and I knew mom was bringing my microwave over.  She and my dad showed up with a huge box.  I opened it and it was a vacuum…and not even the vacuum I’d picked out!  It was the one she wanted me to have.  Now, mind you, I’m not ungrateful but if you’re going to give me something that you want to give me, DON’T ask me what I want and then go totally against what I answered!  She was pissed that I was not jumping up and down with glee.  *sigh*  One other time I remember she brought over two humungous boxes.  One for me and one for my husband.  His was full of the most amazing assortment of tools that my dad had picked out for him.  This was a HUGE box.  My husband was in heaven.  My box was full of cooking supplies.  That in itself would have been fine except for one tiny detail.  As I was opening the box, my mom says “I had no idea what to get you but I figured you were so practical that this would work just fine.”  Made those baking pans and cookie sheets all the more beautiful don’t’cha think?  I say all of this to set the scene for the only time I can ever remember my mom doing just the right thing when it came to gift giving. 

It was my 39th birthday.  For those of you following along, this would be two years ago. (!)  Now, that’s a long damn time to have your mother give you gifts that make it plainly obvious she doesn’t know a thing about you!  This particular birthday my mom brought a gift over in the late afternoon.  I have to admit I was almost afraid to open it.  When the wrapping was off and the box was opened, I saw the most amazing thing.  I was actually crying in disbelief.  My mom, the master of bad gifting, had chosen the most beautiful butterfly ornaments for me.  It was like she had finally noticed that I’m not always “so practical” or whatever adjective she labeled me with on any given day.  The butterflies were each a different color and in the middle there was a beautiful colored stone that matched.  Porcelain.  Stunning.  I’ve hung them on my Christmas tree for the past two years and last night as I talked about them, I decided I was going to dig them out NOW and hold on to them as a symbol of what my mom could have been.  It’s sad in a way and yet wonderful too.

See, the thing is, my mom came from the same place I did.  It was not a good house to be a little girl in.  And she was there first.  I have no idea why I am different than the other women in my family.  All of us were touched by my grandfather in the same gruesome way.  Why does the same situation make each person different?  I don’t know nor, for this purpose, do I care.  The fact is I KNOW my mom was a victim of my grandfather as were her siblings.  The difference is my mom and her siblings are still victims.  I don’t consider myself a victim of incest anymore.  I KNOW I’m a survivor.  There is a gigantic difference. 

I’ve decided to believe that if my mom hadn’t experienced the things she did at the hands of her father, she would have been a “different” mother.  Maybe, just maybe, I could have had something similar to what my daughters have with me.  I don’t know if that is truth or not but I will hold onto the possibility of it.  Because the possibility has to be enough now.  My mommy is gone.  She wasn’t the mommy I wanted or needed for most of my life.  That is my reality.  My mother didn’t keep me safe and she didn’t love me in the way I needed to be loved.  But for one shining moment, the butterflies showed me what might have been.  They showed me the mommy who paid attention and noticed that butterflies held a special significance for me.  They showed me the mommy my heart always searched for.  Those beautiful butterflies made a difference and I’m not going to only enjoy them at Christmas time anymore. 

I am choosing to hold them close as a symbol of what might have been.  When the days look their darkest, as I’m sure they will at times, I will look at them and remember my mommy loved me in the only way she knew how.  I am choosing to believe she did the best she could and that even though her best wasn’t good enough, I think she wanted it to be.  I’m choosing to believe she wanted it to be…


omg…I just hit save and publish and when the date showed up, I realized that my grandfather died 17 years ago today…holy crap, no wonder today is so weird…


7 responses to this post.

  1. I’m glad you’re trying to learn and do better. *hug*

    My mom wasn’t nice, either. Admirable in many ways, but not very nice.


  2. Sometimes looking back makes you realize how much of a survivor you really were… at least, that’s how I feel when I think about my parents.


  3. I don’t have the words to write about my non-Mom yet — maybe after she’s gone? I’m just so happy you have those butterfly ornaments! I love that concept, and I’m going to focus on finding a moment or symbol in my own non-relationship with my non-Mom that could represent what might have been. Lovely!! Just like you.


  4. What a strong woman you are, and what a beautiful memory to hold close to your heart.


  5. You are an amazing woman and an amazing writer. My heart broke reading this post. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. It means a lot to me.




  6. You ARE a butterfly my friend. Fragile yet strong. Taking flight and soaring over the universe and abouve your pain and suffering. I love you friend.


  7. This is a wonderful insight – to hold onto the few memories of beauty and let them hold the potential for the parent you felt you needed. I would only say that very few people are blessed with parents that they really wanted and needed. I think that’s part of the appeal of images of god the father and goddess the mother, or sky father and earth mother… The fantasy mom or fantasy dad would have been just like this – unconditional love, safety, love, laughter, fun. Like… heaven.

    I am not at all all minimizing any bit of your experiences, and this is a heartbreaking kind of post. But I am shining a little light for you, on the idea that your mom probably tried to be, and probably was, the best mom she could be, given everything. On top of everything else, maybe she just really couldn’t “get” you, understand you, “grok” you. It happens. I have about three adoptive spiritual moms now, and I have the perfect fantasy mom in my mind. But I’ll bet my son will have one in his mind too as he grows up.

    Sending you all the love, light and laughter you can imagine. Peace.


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