Sunday, May 12, 2019

notes from the motherless wilds

When I was 6 or 7, I had the worst nightmare of my childhood, which is saying a lot as someone who was into horror movies from birth, which surely would surrender up plenty of bad dream fodder. Or so one would think. I once dreamed that Jason attacked me in the bathtub like he did the girl in the boat at the end of the first movie.  Later, dreamed that my grandmother, newly dead, came back as a zombie (this happened a couple times--her being the first relative I was old enough to really experience losing--of course she would come back as the undead.)  But neither of those was as earth-shaking as one in which my mother simply left us. I wouldn't say the dream had any sense of awareness that it was death, but just going, and we could not follow.  She had gone over the picket fence behind the garage, and not into the neighbors yard, but an enormous field filled with daisies.  Me and my sister only knew we could not follow, but not really why or how or what was happening.  I woke up crying, and every night thereafter for what seems like forever, would lie in bed before sleep telling my brain or god or the sandman not to let me dream about that again. Ever.  I didn't and eventually I just filed it away as a childhood funny stories, though I don't think I ever revealed it to my mother.  Later, I put in a poem or two.

Many years later, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, the surgery from which she emerged only with a long wicked scar across her abdomen, but no need for further treatment.  She said afterwards that her greatest fear was that she would die and leave me and my sister, (I was 13, she was 9) without a mother. I was worried most on the specter of navigating my teen years without her--even though a couple years later, we fought like cats and dogs. I grew into an adult who had a pretty good relationship with my mom, though there was much I kept from her in regard to my own life, just to keep stability and privacy. In my mid-20's, I told her that if she needed to know something, she would. And so it went for the next couple decades.

On the plus side, I've since finished a book, feed, which is mostly about mothers and daughters and body image issues, but also about mothering as a creative endeavor, which I, as a child-free woman think about often.  The work as offspring.  (unlike many other people, I'm less inclined to think of pets as children, the cats mostly just obnoxious/endearing roommates who expect me to feed and clean up after them.)

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