My Momma Loved Me (Like A Rock)
Written By: Mark Smith
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Everybody loves Mother's Day. It is right up there with baseball, apple pie and the 4th of July. We love to picture our mothers as flawless, saint like characters who unselfishly poured out their lives for us. But, come on, let's keep it real here. This isn't a Hallmark card commercial. There are no saints. June Cleaver wasn't real. We live in a broken, dysfunctional world where everybody - even your momma, has flaws and lots of them. I've always loved Paul Simon's catchy 60's tune 'Loves Me Like A Rock'. Click here 'Loves Me Like A Rock' It is an awesome old song, but the words never made sense to me..."My momma loved me like a rock?". Uh? How does a momma love you like a rock? Well, the sad truth is, for myself and much of the world included, much of the time my momma quite literally loved me like a rock, as in not that well.
In the 50's marriage and motherhood was the ticket for a young girl to legitimacy, adulthood, respect and security. My mother was thus legitimized four times by the time she was 22. She added three more little affirmations of her good enough status by the time she was 30. My dear mother was quite flawed, she had seven children, no money, a child for a husband and an aircraft carrier full of unresolved issues from her childhood to contend with. To say that I grew up with a little chaos would be quite the understatement. She had issues with control, rage, spending, food, lying, rescuing, personal boundaries and relationship addiction. Obviously things got a little messy at our house as I was growing up. There were too many kids and no healthy parents. But here is my point - I guarantee you that things got messy at your house too. Your momma had a fistful of issues too. Think about it. Try to not idealize or block out uncomfortable thoughts. It is the human condition for there to be a great deal of dysfunction.
So, time to fess up to yourself, what was the deal? Was your mother too passive, depressed, resentful at having to give up her dreams, bitter at your father, too busy cleaning the house, did she have a favorite child, take valium, drink too much wine, nag your father, eat too much, not keep a clean house or have a temper problem? What was the truth about your mom as you were growing up because things weren't perfect. They weren't even close to being perfect and you know it. This isn't about blaming dear old mom, especially on Mother's Day. My mother was a wonderful woman who gave me and my siblings many wonderful gifts. My humor, creativity, personal strength, charisma and love of music all come from my mother. Given her train wreck of a childhood, she did pretty damned good to get us raised and through college. I am grateful for all she provided for me. My point is that I can't really know myself unless I allow myself to really know the truth about my parents. Neither can you. You can't understand your marriage without understanding your childhood either.
Paul Simon sang "When I was grown to be a man and the devil called my name, I said who do, who do you think you're fooling? I'm a consummated man. I can snatch a little purity. My momma loved me. She loved me. She'd get down on her knees and hug me, oh she loved me like a rock." A solid, stable nurturing relationship with a maternal figure is the foundation of emotional health. Simon is right, in fact, when he sings about healthy, ethical, rational behavior flowing from a foundation of a nurturing relationship with mom. Perhaps that is part of the reason why so many politicians, like John Edwards, or celebrities yield when the proverbial devil calls out their names? In mid-life, without a foundation of parental nurturing and bonding in the core of my own soul, I didn't respond well when the devil called out my name. I am not alone with that. Abandonment, or the lack of maternal bonding is at the core of many, if not most mid-life marital issues. The sad, needy little boy escapes from his prison of control and workaholism around age 45 and he seeks nurturing feminine attention wherever he can find it.
Be really glad if your mother is still alive. It has been almost 15 years since my momma left us. Honor your mother today. Get her flowers and a nice gift and take her to dinner. But when that is all said and done, sit down and talk with her. Cut through all the Hallmark card bullshit and have a genuinely deep conversation. Take her off the phony pedestal. Tell her how you experienced her when you were little. Find out who she was then, what she struggled with and why things turned out the way they did. Don't judge, but also don't live in a make believe fairy tale land where nobody ever really connects. Have a memorable, healthy and connected Mother's Day that will be indelibly etched in your mind because you were able to deeply touch your Mother's heart.
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