Tuesday, May 10, 2011

postcard from the edge

Darling, sorry about the last couple of days. I managed to seriously bum myself out with my Mother's Day post, and couldn't pull myself out of it yesterday. I woke up this morning feeling anxious and upset again, but feel much much better now. I remembered a couple of things in the shower that made me feel like - wait, I've been beating myself up here, but think about the messages I was getting - dissuaded from having children. I mean, no wonder I was ambivalent and hesitant. I had reason to be.

One day when I was in my teens, I think while I was dating 1.0, my mother and I were talking and she said to me with sudden venom, don't think that while you go to work I'm going to be babysitting your kids. She was letting me know that if I ever decided to become a mother that I was on my own - she was not going to be a help to me. I remember looking at her incredulously and with a feeling of righteous disgust. I said, you know, most mothers look forward to one day becoming grandmothers, and might hope for their daughter's sake that one day she might become a mother - but no, not you. I don't think she responded. That was the end of it. What more was there to say? I think that's a pretty good snapshot of our relationship though as I grew older. Another memory is of her saying something to the effect of how she didn't feel that it was the purpose of human beings in endless daisy-chain fashion to procreate more human beings, that there was more raison d'être to life than that. She essentially looked down on procreation, and felt that women should opt out in favor of loftier pursuits. (I picture myself holding a mirror up to her - it is a reflection of her own feelings of being a mother - she did not find much value, joy, and especially not self-worth in it. She made it clear that she would have preferred to do something else with her life.) I think I've written before how strange some of my mother's ideas were and how, as her eldest daughter and namesake, and she my main role model, I would listen to her decided opinions, try to make sense of them, internalize them, and maybe try to adhere. But I have come to feel the opposite of a great many of her views. Or whatever validity they may have had for some or in some way, they just didn't work for flawed, imperfect me. (I was a disappointment to her - not the fame-bound genius that she assumed by right I would be - her desire was for her children to redeem her by carrying forth the glory of her now-extinct family name.) Pronouncements like "better to be a writer than an editor," or "better to be an artist than a gardener." She disdained gardening - as well as flower arranging.

Darling, I cannot draw or paint, but look at the flowers I planted - and the arrangement I made.

I am so glad to be smiling again. What helped turn my head around this morning too was going for a drive to the conservation area. Last week at the Thomas Cole homestead I bought a postcard for My Friend in Finland, the Voyage of Life: Manhood painting that I posted in connection with my Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams post. So I sat on a bench in the park with the glorious view of the Catskills spread out in front of me on this sunny, breezy day. I penned the card, noted with an arrow that the image on the postage stamp, a painting of a cloudbanked Teton range, was not dissimilar to the view that I chanced to be enjoying now, which is the very view in fact that Thomas Cole could glimpse from his home all those years - over 150 - ago. I scribbled my message in the tiniest cursive I could muster, and I had even brought with me a set of colored pencils, and attempted a tiny sketch of the mountains before me. I truly can't draw, and the drawing was about as sophisticated as a young child's crayoning - but the effort made me laugh, and - if my friend can figure out what I was trying to depict - maybe he'll smile too.

So darling, let me let this go to you now with a big hug and many kisses for you, and thank you for sticking with me even when my mood temporarily swerves south. Feeling even-keeled again. May post again later, we'll see. Love you. XOXO

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