"The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness." -- Honoré de Balzac
Shhhhhhh, don't show this to my mother. It'll make her cry. (She's such a softie)
But, it is high time that I recognized the woman who carried me in her belly for nine months (or maybe a little more than that; punctuality wasn't my strong suit).
Several months ago, I blogged about the emergence of my sibling, Howard (Like Sands Through the Hourglass). It has been a happy revelation for all of us. When I shared my story about him, I didn't really delve too much into the details. Basically, I shared that he was given up for adoption because my mother was a single woman in the 1960's who couldn't shoulder the responsibility of caring for a child.
Notice I didn't say "shouldn't" or "wouldn't". I say "couldn't" because I believe she had no choice in the matter. Little did I know back then, that my mother was part of a group of women who surrendered their babies between 1945-1973; a group that is 1.5 million strong, in fact.
The book "The Girls Who Went Away" by Ann Kessler, chronicles this period in history. It was the postwar economic boom that essentially created the middle class. Image was everything and the thought of losing social status because your child was unmarried and pregnant was just unthinkable (sad, but true).
I haven't read the book yet, although I have been looking at the website and reading the description and reviews. Each one I read gives me a deeper understanding of what it must have been like for my mother who was indeed one of the "girls who went away". She was sent off to a home for unwed mothers to have her baby alone.
What makes this even more of a poignant tale is that the woman who sent my mother away (my grandmother, obviously) is now 93 and in the throes of Alzheimer's. My mother has spent the last month or so on the east coast (she lives in AZ) organizing her affairs and helping her transition to an Assisted Living Facility. To say that I am proud of her for stepping up and taking responsibility doesn't even begin to cover it. Now, don't misunderstand me here; I advocate forgiveness. I don't believe there is anything to be gained in holding a grudge. However, considering what happened between the two of them, I wouldn't fault her for any lingering resentment that she may harbor. But, she's stepping up and taking care of business like a champ. Truly inspiring.
My mother and I have had our ups and downs through the years. We didn't always see eye to eye; hardly ever, in fact. I thought she was a victim and she thought I was strong willed and critical (we were probably both right). I didn't always appreciate her as often as I could have. However, I never questioned her love for me or my brothers. This experience has shown me a new side of her: strong, capable, fearless.
Perhaps it's not new at all. It may have been there all along and I just didn't have the maturity to see it.
Maybe it's the wisdom that accompanies getting older or maybe we're just both adapting to each other.
I'm not sure. And, truly, it doesn't really matter.
Today, I dedicate my blog space to my mother. You have my respect and admiration.
I am proud. And I love you.
"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it." --Mark Twain