Just as we, collectively as a nation, celebrate and honor the birthdays of those great historical figures who had a profound impact on our country, as individuals we remember those who shaped our lives in a more personal way, albeit with less fanfare and no days-off from work.
Sometimes, when I write about my mother, the inner-critic kicks in and I feel self-indulgent (cringe) and childish (oy) for clinging so fiercely to her memory. But isn’t that how we live on? In the memories of those we loved and who loved us back?
Who, more so than a mother, shapes us? Whether by being adoptive, abusive, absent, omnipresent or anywhere in between, the mother is North. We speak of Mother Nature. She is beautiful and can be a real “mutha!” Or when we hit the jackpot we hit the:
noun : the place where the largest amount of gold, silver, etc., in a particular area can be found
She is big. The biggest. Her love can fill us up and her absence early- on can lead to a life-long fear of abandonment.
I am taking a creative writing class and one of the assignments was to write a character study about a flawed character. The teacher discussed how flaws make the character more relatable and often, more endearing. That certainly fits when describing my mother. She was defined by her generosity, which was often so excessive as to be considered a flaw, although I never saw it that way. Mom struggled with some monstrous demons, and only now can I fully appreciate how gracefully and courageously she battled them, when she wasn’t being a neurotic, frustrating mess!
I also remember how she mangled the English language, loved to poke fun at herself, was, like me, prone to highly inappropriate bouts of stress-induced hysterical laughter (a funeral, and a very serious avant-garde opera at the Met to name a few memorable… muthas).
As a mother now, myself, I pray that my children will embrace me, flaws and all, as we continue on our journey together and long after I am gone. I hope that my flaws are something they will come to see as relatable consequences of a complicated life and that they will know that I truly, truly am doing the best I can. May they understand that I flog myself daily for all the ways in which I fall short, sometimes very, of the mark.
Today, for me, is Mother’s Day. My mother did her best. I always knew that she loved me. I love and miss her every single day. She was my best friend and we could fight like sisters and I love her forever. Happy Birthday, Tamara H. Kahan Bruce.