Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Hey people.  This post has been a long time coming.  I think my mom would agree that our relationship, is probably our most challenging and complicated, for each of us.  Here's how I see it all now.

There is no denying, my mom was a beauty when she had me, in her twenties.

She wanted very badly to be a mom, and was on the job from the moment they wheeled her from the delivery room.  

She loved it, even though it was harder then, cloth diapers etc etc, but she was focused, on me.  I actually remember this cake.  It was my first birthday.  I remember being fascinated with all the animals.  I remember her always looking like this too-- spiffed.  Well turned-out.  Pretty and stylish.

It must have been challenging raising a genius like me.  Here I am reading to her at age 1.  (Just kidding)  But seriously, she spent tons of time with me.  TONS.  You don't get a little kid to enjoy story time like this unless it's a habit.

She wasn't outdoorsy; that was more my dad's background, but she knew part of her job was to help me experience everything.

Isn't this swimsuit slammin?  (hers not mine)  She really liked this job, and was good at it.

I remember she used to make little *tea parties* for us.  I preferred playing outside whenever possible, but things like this always made me feel *paid attention to*.  She used to make pies and make me my own special little tart as an extra.  I had no idea every kid didn't get this kind of attention.

And it's not like she learned this from example.  I can say this because my grandma doesn't have the internet and will never see this, but my mom's childhood was nothing like mine.  Everyone does their best (supposedly), but I basically come from a long line of sub-par moms.  My grandma's mother (a widow) was too busy rather joylessly trying to survive to show her much affection/attention.  It wasn't personal, and wasn't because she was a horrible person, but she was an orphan who had been farmed out to work from about age 5, and in her world, life was basically *tough noogies*.  My mom was determined to break the pattern and actually studied how to be the best possible mom.

The whole nature/nurture argument is muddled.  I know people who had horrible childhoods who turned out to be amazing people, and vice versa too.  I think we become who we are both because of, and in spite of, our parents, and also just because of who we are autonomously inside.  I think the early years of complete support I got, perhaps instilled, or maybe enhanced a confidence that was innate in me.  However it happened, by the time I turned 16 my independence was burning a hole through me, and our relationship became defined by conflict.  I was no longer recognizable to her, and I certainly didn't want any more mothering.  I was seething and plotting my escape.  She was unhappy, disappointed...  It was pretty bad.   

It took many years for us to become close again, and even then, decades to really find peace with each other.  When I look back at the old pictures from when I was little, it helps me understand how frustrating it must have been for her to watch me become someone so different that she thought I would be.  Hard to accept that, especially during the hard years.

Families are messy aren't they?  Unless everyone is fooling themselves or has a giant stick up their butt, they are complicated messy affairs.  Now mom has accepted that hers, while less picture perfect than she probably imagined as a young mother, has it's own unique charm.

Her kids, (my poor mom) came out way weirder than I'm sure she ever dreamed they would.

We take chances she cannot believe, serious ones and lighthearted ones.  I know that is one thing that continues to be difficult for her-- she can't keep us safe, and we seem to care far less about BEING safe, than she would like.

She loves us, even if we are, at times, a bit of a mystery to her.  She loves situations where she can fall into her role as our mom.  It's like a time machine for all of us I guess.  My sister really needed a nice birthday this year, and mom made her her favorite cake, even though her preference would have been to make another, fancier kind.

And she frequently makes my favorite dish-- cheese soufleé when i visit her.  This is a time consuming, labor intensive dish, but she likes to try to make me feel special.  (she will absolutely hate this picture, but I like it, because she is smiling so big.)

Check this stuff out------  yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I skipped-out on this deal.  I always knew I'd be a crappy mother, and knew from a very early age I never wanted kids.  I've always been just a daughter.  Mom has had to be both.  

These days it seems like we have stuff most of the way figured out.  We are so different.  When I think of how very different we are, and all the war-torn years we battled it out, it seems pretty incredible we have any relationship at all now, much less a good one.  We have worked hard to get to this point, both of us.  We've had to get to know each other all over again at times, or adapt our old impression of each other to fit the person standing before us.  I think it speaks to a big big love that we will always do this.  We will always find ways to accept each other and enjoy our relationship as time shifts it around underneath us.

I love you mom.


Carolyn Wright said...

Seriously Sue, what an awesome post. :)

Maery Rose said...

Wow! What an awesome tribute to your mom. Sounds like you've done some deep soul searching and made peace. I guess it comes to seeing our parents are human (unless they truly aren't) and accepting they did the best they could. There's usually a side to things that is difficult to see when you feel hurt or unaccepted.