Monday, May 09, 2011

A Late Mother’s Day Post

You know that my mother died in October 2007. You have also seen some of the sweet “Mother’s Day” posts around the blogosphere. I trust it will not surprise you that I didn’t join in the paeans to mothers.

If you’ve been following, you know that I have ambivalent feelings about my mother. She let my father beat me. Eventually, we had a profoundly honest conversation, and I understand why she could not intervene.

I was moved today by a friend who posted this video. [View it here.] I re-posted it on my Facebook page. I especially liked this phrase: “Why does the thrill of soaring have to begin with the fear of falling.”

On Sunday morning, I posted this Facebook status: “Going offline. Heading to Grace Episcopal Church, then the bike trail ... expecting to find God in both places.

Out on the bike trail Sunday, the Spirit spoke to me about a couple of items. First, I remembered this, a propos of the mother eagle.

I was born and raised in the impoverished, generally under-educated Missouri bootheel. But I had good grades, scored well on national exams, and was lucky to get a generous scholarship to the University of Dallas. I had never visited the campus, but I fell in love with their curriculum and what I discerned of their philosophy. I had never been that far from home. I accepted the scholarship and the university “sight unseen.” I had Big Dreams! I wanted to escape the small dreams of my little home town.

It came time for me to go to that far-away college. My mother borrowed a van, so we could transport my few meager possessions to my dormitory room. My grandmother and my sister went along.

The four of us drove and drove and drove. Eventually, we reached the Texas state line, and the sign said that Dallas was still something like 240 miles yet ahead. I don’t know exactly how the conversation went, but I remember it like this.

Me: Uhhhh … We’ve gone too far.

Mother: What do you mean – “too far”?

Me: I don’t want to go this far.

Mother: HUH?

Me: Please stop. Please turn around. I don’t want to go to college! I don’t want to go to Dallas!

Mother: What?? What do you want to do?

Me: I want to go home. I’m sure I could get a job as a bank teller … or … or something. Just please stop! I want to go home.

Mother: No. You are going to college.

And so we drove on. And I went to college … and I loved it! I treasure the education I received there. And then I went to graduate school. And I had a career that went far beyond what I could have envisioned or achieved in my small town.

Thinking about my mother in that long-ago exchange, I realize how very difficult it must have been for her. I bet she would have liked to take me back to my little home town.

But she didn’t. She saw that I had an opportunity that none in her family had had. And she pushed on. She pushed me out of the nest. She forced me to spread my wings, despite my huge fear of falling … which must have echoed her own fear.

Whatever my complaints, I will always be grateful that my mother forced me from that nest.

Mom, I thank you for sacrificing what you probably wanted … for what you knew was best. I thank you for shoving me out of my comfy nest.


Blogger JCF said...

I lost my mom just days earlier than you, Lisa (9/30/07), and have some of the same ambivalences.

But I put flowers on her grave yesterday. Whenever I think about "making it" in the world, I know I have a consistent model in my head: impressing my mom (something I didn't seem to do very often).

5/09/2011 2:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I apologize for my late response, JCF. I got all caught up with the Decorah eagles and neglected the blog.

My heart is touched that you put flowers on your mother's grave. I'm loathe to admit that gesture didn't even occur to me. And I know the fact that her grave is 90 mins. from me doesn't mitigate that.

JCF, if your mom wouldn't be impressed by you today .... Well, I'm speechless. She should be pleased with who you are.

For me, it never was about impressing my mom. I belonged to my dad. In fact, that became clear when my sister was born 5 years after I, and my mom reared up and told my dad: "You got Lisa. This one is mine!" ... My mom is mostly a shadow figure in the background of my childhood memories. We really didn't get acquainted until I was an adult.

Oh, these parental units! How they can bedevil and haunt us, eh?

5/10/2011 8:55 PM  
Blogger IT said...

Interesting to read this today. My dad died just 3 months ago and yesterday, we brought mom down to our place for a week's visit. She's never stayed with us before. As hoped,she's settled in to read and relax and recuperate.

I think no matter how close we are to our parents, we always have ambivalence. I know my mom is proud of me but she almost never gave/gives me a compliment, in case I get a "swollen head" as she puts it! Which may be part of why I've been insecure and never particularly felt much about my accomplishments.

But the thing I will always thank her for is how instantly and warmly welcoming my Mom has been (and my Dad when he was alive) to BP, whom she calls her other daughter. I am deeply fortunate.

5/11/2011 10:11 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Maybe not everyone, IT, but it does seem to me that "ambivalence" goes along with having parents.

I am deeply happy to hear that your mom has accepted BP so heartfully. That makes me very happy.

I did not realize your father died, IT. I am sorry I missed that.

I suspect my Real Family Crisis will come when my Dad dies.

5/11/2011 9:34 PM  

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