The following is a reposting of a blog I wrote back in 2006, with a few changes and a few addendums.
First off, due to my warm and affectionate nature (well, some of the time), I wish to express my love and admiration to all the mothers out there on this their special day.
I think good mothers are God’s most compelling and vital incarnations, and their responsibilities are huge in terms of creating a world in which we can all live in decency and comfort. I have known many such mothers, and continue to know such mothers, and for them I feel a certain awe — since I never had such an experience with my own. In that I was unfortunate. I once did have a wonderful mother-in-law, and in that I was privileged. In fact, so deep was my love for her that I never did get mother-in-law jokes. They didn’t apply to me. Since she died in 1987, rarely has an extended period gone by that I haven’t thought about her. Even though I am no longer married to her daughter, she still figures prominently in my life. In fact, I suspect she might even understand why I am no longer married to her daughter.
I was also (secondarily) married to a woman whom I admired hugely in her maternal skills and love. We had other glitches but I would never indict her mothering skills and the love she conveyed with the end result being a very successful and functional daughter. The work pays off.
Of my own mother, there is not much I can say. I’ve often wondered about ‘Mama’s Boys’. How can that be so? What does that feel like? Needless to say, I wasn’t one. My mother, in the days of my early childhood, was quite beautiful. She was also funny, witty, well-read, intelligent, stylish and all that other stuff that doesn’t matter much to a child. Actually, I came to appreciate those traits more when I was in my teens, and Mother and I would often make library and art gallery forays together. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
What was bad was that she was never demonstrably affectionate. I do not recall, literally, ever having been hugged or kissed by my mother. Neither do my brothers. We often felt that we were inconveniences. Oh, we were well fed, had clothing, a warm house, and it was kind of like we were irritating guests in that house.
No, she wasn’t ‘cold’ in the sense of prim and stoic. What she was, was emotionally aloof. She was kind of like the person you are talking to at a party who is constantly scanning the room to see if there is somebody more interesting to speak to. If that happened, Mother would be gone in a trice.
What made it even worse was that she was an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and as she aged, the booze factor became less and less tolerable. And, like most alcoholic households, the place was filled with denial. I had long since left home by the time she got genuinely intolerable, but her alcoholism was the elephant in the living room that was always ignored. Ultimately she became ill-spirited and rather cruel, but the elephant remained firmly in place.
And then she died, back in 1992. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about that. I’m yet to sort it out, but I’m still working on it.
But, to my cherished maternal friends the very happiest of mother’s days. You thoroughly deserve your accolades.