May 09 2012

Mama Drama

Category: CreativityPatricia @ 2:54 pm

Mothers. We all have one.  And each one of us has a very unique relationship with her. Siblings may share a mother, but each one of them has their own version. Most of us love our mothers. And the majority of mothers love our children more than life. I think it’s safe to say, we all want to be loved by our mothers. So, if it’s all about love, why is this such a complicated relationship?

Mothers install our “buttons” and therefore, have a keen ability to know how and when to push them! It doesn’t matter if you are 50, your mom can still hit the button as if you were 5! Mothers are our first teachers. They tell us who we are and build our foundation. They write the beginning to our life story. And we believe every word they say, good and bad. Your mom may tell you that you are brilliant and beautiful, or she may say that you are lazy and worthless. Mothers give us the “truth” of who we are but sometimes it is a lie.

bouquet of flowersAs Mother’s Day approaches, each of us has an opportunity to consider this relationship. We may choose to honor our mother with a special gift or gathering because we truly want to spend time with her. Or we may do it out of guilt feeelings. But we do it, because we all really want to love our mothers.

Like everyone else, I have a complicated relationship with my mom. She’s 87 now and has forgotten most of her life. I wonder if she would remember the dress. Six years ago after she’d suffered a stroke, I found it hanging in her closet when I was clearing out her home. My first reaction was one of disbelief. And then I cried.

In the closet of the guest bedroom, there hung an odd assortment of clothes; heavy winter woolens; Dad’s suits (which were only brought out for weddings and funerals); and a blue linen dress. The dress had been a gift from me to Mom. It was more than 40 years old. It had been so precious to her, that she had kept it all those years. Wow. It was a bittersweet discovery, because I was reminded of that time long ago when I created it. It wasn’t a pleasant memory.

I was 14 years old. I had been taught to sew by my Aunt Evelyn when I was 12. She was a very accomplished seamstress who insisted that the inside of the garment be as perfect as the outside. Seams were to be a uniform 5/8” in width and all were to be finished. No raw edges or fraying seams! Details mattered. I was an avid student and really enjoyed sewing, creating and wearing clothes I had designed. At one point, I was considering learning how to make shoes for the complete outfit!

When I decided to make the dress for Mom, I intended to do an impeccable job. I wanted to make her happy. (A task I came to realize was not only outside of my power, but was also impossible.) We chose a pattern and fabric. I took measurements so that it would be tailor-made. I conferred with Aunt Evelyn. And I diligently and expertly constructed the garment. But then came the fitting. Mom said that I did a shitty job; that I didn’t do it as well as if I were making it for myself; that it wasn’t good enough.

I don’t remember what was wrong with the dress. In my mind’s eye, I can see her standing in front of the mirror and tugging at it and pulling it and accusing me. There are no memories of a “thank you” or “good job” or any acknowledgement of the effort or the gift. I do remember that she wore the dress and it fit her like a glove. So, for 40 years I carried this memory of a dress that wasn’t good enough; another gift that did not please her. And Mom carried the memory of a gift that was so special, the dress was worth holding on to forever. Finding that dress was a priceless gift to me. It was the unsaid “Thank you. I appreciate this beautiful gift. I know you made it for me with love. I love you, dear child.”

I’m preparing my Mother’s Day gift…simple photos of the family to remind her that she is loved. I‘ve kept the blue dress as my reminder of words unspoken, yet expressed. Perhaps we can all learn to speak our love more freely so it won’t be hidden away to gather dust in the closet.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply