Old Mothers and Thuds of Thunder
When I see paintings of mother and child, I grow melancholy. When I accidentally, and very seldom see a nursing mother I grow misty-eyed and mournful of a seemingly long-lost purpose. Perhaps I hadn’t had enough children, but the one I did seemed perfectly balanced for what has been my life. While I’m not an old mother – I am among the astute pupils of age who’ve raised a young one that brings wisdom beyond any years I could ever number.
From a divorce in 1995 we were products wrapped up in the statistics and data. Single Mom, Single Parent Household and Latch-Key Kid. It was never easy being that single mom or that household tick marked into the demographics but it sure was comfortable being his Mom. It was probably the most natural thing I’ve ever done, and I have to consider it the most critical and defining moment of my career(s). While I may enjoy business intelligence, technical work or managing projects, they were just justifying my ability to maneuver through the world of motherhood in contemporary terms. Of course later, in 2007, when I lost a 12-year career to the unfortunate side effects of a plant closure I was shaken to the foundation and decided to allow something like a career to become loved enough to be my 2nd career after mother. I still thank God for bringing mentors into my life who could see outside my limited view, understand the things it would take to move beyond that, and encouraged me to flourish beyond that role. One particular woman had a profound effect on me because in those first moments we met she didn’t like me at all. I never gave a good first impression, but stick with me and find out what salt of the earth means.
So there began the 2nd chapter in my life when he left. I had finally finished a degree that, I kid you not, started when I graduated high school myself and only finally completed in 2007. Every time I spent an hour in a class, and he was left, or when I tried to focus on studies when he was playing video games, I would just get wrapped up in the sense of loss. Today I am thankful I recognized it and while I am unlike many traditional college graduates the education I received at the time I got was so much sweeter. I remember reading the text in a chemistry course and exclaiming, “OMG!!! No way!”. Yea, simple mind, simple mother, simply divine. It was as if the everyday education which loses its luster in a mire of monotonous echoes and repetitiousness became new and divinely opened to me because I had chosen to forsake it so early on. I still can’t get enough–and that was my reward. It continues to be–I am insatiable when it comes to information. Thank God.
When I was younger, I remember a moment in time as if it were yesterday. Details aside I was made aware that while both parents loved me; one of them did not like me. This is not a bad thing – just a fact of my experience. Though, at 17 or 18, I could have cared less. I was kinda glad they didn’t. It would have meant they wanted to spend more time with me. Not my cup of tea. Now when I think about it, of course, I’m stymied that as awesome as I am how was it possible they could not have liked me? Maybe I just wasn’t that great. I’ve navigated parenthood in a completely different style than my own parents. Not that I think they were doing anything wrong, but with each generation, we become self-delusional that our intelligence says we’re going to do something different. Thousands, maybe millions of years feeling that thud of thunder in an old mother’s heart is probably the lesson – not how we got there.
So while I wasn’t going to be a big disciplinarian, I knew that as a single mother I would have to balance discipline and softness in such a way that most women can’t understand. The courage and strength built from that still comfort me today. It is as if, in the 13 years of walking the balance had given me insight into something that many women never really have to understand. Thankfully, I was afforded a sister who had not only been doubly blessed with children but came into the same experience and even as a child not knows her very well I can look into her eyes today and see the effects of that same thud of thunder. Old mothers are we. I can see the thuds of thunder in some of my friends too – mother’s who’ve gotten past the soccer practices and drivers license stage and ultimately witnessed the departure of their progeny’s. I like that feeling of motherly camaraderie. Old mothers are we.
Recently my son went through a thing that stymied my sage wisdom; it curdled in my mother’s belly and made me a sky pointed fist shaking wretch. That’s code for: This shit is not right. I railed at the unforgiving situation around him and devised master evil plans of tormenting our nemesis. I had it all worked out, standing in front of the judge of the righteous: Sir! My son has been jack-knifed, flim-flammed and bullshitted into the very ideals of youth and those guys (pointing very demonstratively at the bad guys) need to be taught a precious old mother lesson! I will not stand for anything less. Then quiet permeates the air around me when I realize that when I look in the rearview mirror to an adult face. I looked right in shining armor, and a sword of injustice but the old mother acquiesced to reality and quietly worked into my place as supporter…and
I have considered lately that I have become his friend. It was recently when my mind was brought to the moment when I, as an 18-year-old, acknowledged (with satisfaction I might add) that a parent did not like me. I also remembered when he was a youth that there was a slippery slope when it came to being a mother, father and everything else. I never became his friend because I believed in the power of those two roles I wielded. There is a difference in enjoying the partaking in the youth of your child and being a “buddy.” But in these last times, I saw my son, I have recognized that this human being that was part of me–my God, my God, I really like him. The raw shock took me by surprise because I realized that I just love being around this person! He’s really neat! He even ended up liking some of the same things I did and our minds meet on issues that even my closest friends don’t talk about. I can’t get more satisfaction out of life when he’s over correcting me on my lazy video game tactics. He can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound…and he can’t fly…without a cape anyway, but he’s amusing and he treats people with a genuine kindness you rarely see.
So now, when the visit is over, and the thud in my heart threatens to make me cry I remember that I am so grateful for this person in my life. If I were to die today, I would have been the happiest woman in the world the moment I realized that this person, who I shoved into an ugly world so many years ago, has become a person I genuinely like to be around. It is without any verbal commentary to understand what The Mother could have suffered in that thunderous sorrow of age-old and eternity that haunts me to this day. To be grateful for our experience–as different as it may. What more could I ask for? I am an old mother whose thunderous heart cannot believe that one day his experience as a father will teach me all the more of this lesson. It is information worth waiting for.