Saturday, April 09, 2005

My Failure as a Mother

When I started out as a young mother, I was fairly well focused on doing the best I could for my children, even though this was interrupted at times by my own ongoing health problems. I was very wrapped up in them when they were babies, and my love of babies continues to this day.

Then, as they advanced just beyond toddler stage, I started teaching them to read, do math, investigate the sciences. They were all good students, long before kindergarten, and we had our daily “school” sessions around the kitchen table.

I made all of their clothes, stockpiled frozen food supplies from our garden, baked every day, and tried to interest the kids in the world around them. This continued for some years, until eventually I began to search for something more in life.

Today’s mother juggles a career, a family, a house, and even a social life. In my generation, it was much more acceptable to just stay home and be a “mom”. Unfortunately, I was not born to be just a mom, showing this as early as my high school years. I was not your average student, and I was in math classes as the only girl, getting better grades than any of the boys. I guess you would consider 100% on a trigonometry regents a good grade. I think it was trig, maybe solid geometry. I should have known that I would not be satisfied as a stay-at-home housewife, and would eventually rebel.

The direction I took during this rebellion was the wrong one. I started out in the world of working in an office, along with being involved in various educational groups and projects related to gifted children, as a direct result of the four brilliant children of my own. The cultural organizations that I became involved with shortly after this point, were an extension of the yearning for something more interesting and exciting than the life I was living at home. They were opening up something that had been stifled many years earlier.

Then, by being in the “outside world”, I started to meet new people, and I have always loved getting to know someone, learning about his/her life. This eventually led to involvement with men, as I always related to men much easier than I did to women. From the time I was in school, I realized that I was living in a man’s world, and I was much more interested in men things.

I was conned by a couple of these guys, but there were some that were very sincere. One in particular was a sweet guy, unfortunately an alcoholic, although I did not discover that for quite some time. He didn’t drink for long periods, then fell off the wagon at times, going on binges and hiding out at his home. He had been a concert pianist and had also been a vocal soloist in the Messiah with the Buffalo Philharmonic. I wasn’t convinced of the pianist part until he sat down at my piano and started playing.

I would hang out with these people, sometimes in very platonic friendships, and we would have fun, doing interesting things, going places in groups, and I felt as though I was doing what I wanted to do. My children were paying the price for my good times. I was away from the house quite a bit, although at some point along the way I must have been home long enough to totally redecorate a twenty-room house, refinish and reupholster furniture, deal in antiques. A couple of my men friends apparently noticed that my kids needed to be fed, insisting that I cook dinner for them, and involving themselves in the meal preparation. I had acquired an aversion to cooking, for some reason, and I retain that aversion today, except for special occasions. The kids suffered as a result of this, although I still loved them very much and wanted to be involved in their daily lives. I just had a very hard time combining my desire for the life I thought I wanted, with my wishes that my children develop into happy, healthy, well-educated individuals. I didn’t have the tools for this, or, at least, I was unable to shut off my own desires once Pandora’s Box had been opened. I was searching for the perfect relationship, at that point, and it didn’t exist with the men that were my friends.

This all seems so very long ago, yet I am still paying the price, as are my children. The past can not be undone; none of us can recover our youth and do the things we should have done – attended college, had a fulfilling career, a good, responsible life. I use these terms in generalities, applying them to those who wish they could do what they should have done, or undo what they did.


  • At 10:22 AM, April 11, 2005, Blogger Carrie Kelley said…

    Mom - I wish I could ease your feelings of guilt and remorse, but I know that will have to come from within YOU. I know you have been making amends to us for the past - please know that your actions have not been lost on ME -

    Having been through the wringer of life myself, and having made poor choices of my own, I now can understand what HUMANNESS is; that humans are far from perfect; and woe to the person who expects differently from others, be it parents, siblings, spouses, friends, etc.

    I have found that there is cowardice in judgement, and courage in acceptance.

    You were (and are) NOT a failure as a Mother. Mothers aren't perfect human beings. You're a Mother. Period.

    (Love you!)

  • At 3:10 PM, April 11, 2005, Blogger Rita Xavier said…

    Thanks, Carrie. I have always known your feelings on this subject.

  • At 7:47 PM, April 13, 2005, Blogger rabsteen said…

    wow, thanks for the honest post.


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