Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mothering Day

I think I need a day off from this blog or from any thought at all, and mostly that is the day I've had.  I'm not pleased about this -- I'd wanted to go to Mass today but I woke up in that anxiety that is like a maze.  At the time, I thought I had to be home at noon, so the 12.15 Mass was out.  It was 8 and I had two hours to walk and feed the dog, shower and get dressed and do some nominal business for the Other Part of My Life.  But when the Horrors are upon me I can't figure that kind of list out.  It feels incredibly stupid in retrospect but then I was so disappointed in myself that I put in more time on the Other Part and then went back to bed for season three of House.

I pretty much intended to post on Facebook that I'd gone fishing until I was looking at the calendar that hangs in my kitchen.  It has both American and form UK dominions marked out and I saw that this is, in England and Ireland, Mothering Sunday.

Mothering Sunday -- how much more I appreciate that than Mother's Day, which, since my mother died and I am childless, makes me feel excluded and less-than.  Lots of people are mothering even if they aren't my mother.  Hell, when I had the flu I could barely grab any covers because Daisy was sleeping snug up against me so tight that I couldn't fit an envelope between us.  She didn't retreat to the couch or to the foot of the bed, frequent spots for her, because she had to take care of me.  Mother me.

Earlier, before I'd looked at the calendar, while lying in bed with House digging out someone's right brain, I thought to myself, I wish I was a little girl today, I wish I knew there would be dinner on the table and that the bills would be paid and that someone would tell me I should get up and do something.  It's ironic, then, to see the holiday.

Over Christmas, I learned -- not from my father, whom I didn't have the nerve to speak to about it -- that there is some misinformation on my birth certificate.  Not only is it my second birth certificate, my adoption certificate, but it lists the delivering doctor incorrectly.  My father, according to one version he told someone else in the family, actually delivered me.

Which means that the first person to hold me was my dad.

I was so blown away by this that I couldn't ask him about it.  Another family member said that when they checked the story with Dad, he had no memory of the things he'd said.  He's 96.  He may have kept that story to himself for 57 years -- is this senility in terms of invention or in terms of repression?  He said some other things about my birth mother as well which fit the little information he's imparted over the years, including an outburst in which he said I was exactly what my birth mother would have -- wanted? expected?  I can't remember now.

(I should add here that how I imagined my adoption to have gone down was always plausible.  The delivering doctor on the birth certificate was one of my father's partners when he was in general practice.)

In a weird way, then, my first post-natal mothering came from my father, who practiced his medicine the way he always did and had and probably counted my toes and made sure I was breathing and then made a decision to call my mother and tell her that a baby girl was available.

Mothering.  It's such a potent word.  Many women go out to brunch because it's Mother's Day but who weren't terribly mothering.  My mom wasn't a convicted motherer for that matter.  I think she was largely done with child raising by the time I was in fourth grade or so. 
But I've had mothering in my life from other people and animals, not all of them female, and I like how the word honors that.

My father is in hale good health so I suppose the next time I visit him I will have to have this Conversation.  When he told the story to another family member he remarked that he didn't want to tell me because I've always been so weird about adoption.  I'm going to have to suck it up and be stoic, which I'm not known for.  And in this case, the crying and emoting I've done have been out of wonder and gladness at the gift that being pulled from my birth mother's body and lifted into the air for the first time, that the first words I heard were probably the announcement that it's a girl and she looks healthy were my dad's.

I hope the people who have mothered me know who they are so that my thanks for doing it resonates.  If you wonder if you're on the list, you probably are.

Thank you.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Wow, a very interesting story. I've never heard a story like this. I can see how you'd have mixed feelings. A hard thing for a dad to explain--to just say that you were adopted and stop there was so much easier I guess. Thanks for sharing.

Your pictures are always priceless.