48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Posts Tagged ‘guilt’

Essay #10: mothering

In Love on May 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I woke up yesterday feeling like I finally got it, the whole mother thing. If I need mothering, I can do it myself. After all, who better than me to know what I want? Expectations of my mother dropped away – freedom!

Today I feel like I did before: angry at her, and sad we’re not talking. Damn revelations.

“No shame, no blame, everything is beautiful,” said Meg before leading an improv exercise. An excellent motto. Perhaps I’ll paint it on my car.

I did not call my mother on Mothers Day. I am trying to do what I actually want to do, instead of what I should do. Today I am suffering guilt and anxiety. I don’t want to hurt her, but I am tired of hurting me.

Taking care of myself is trickier than I thought.

Early on, I learned not to have any needs that couldn’t be met by my mother. I learned not to want.

But I am human. I want and need — despite my best efforts — shelter, love, support.
And when she couldn’t or wouldn’t help me, I thought I wasn’t worth helping.

Wrong splenation. It only meant that she — one woman — couldn’t help me, not that I shouldn’t be helped. Where’s the damn village when you need it?

The fact is, I love my mother. It’s just taken me a long time to catch on to the fact that I don’t need her, nor does she need me. She can mother herself. I can mother myself. She is no longer my source of nourishment. Nor am I hers.

But I keep fishing in the same tired stream. And just over the hill behind me is the ocean.

Part of me wants to stay by the stream, even though I’m hungry. A misguided sense of loyalty, love, and hope keeps me sitting here, even though I can hear the ocean roar. Occasionally, I hike over the hill, jump in the sea, remember who I am, and who I can be. But I always return to the stream.

And maybe that’s okay for a time.
I’ll just leave my fishing pole behind.