This is the piece that I wrote and shared at the Listen To Your Mother live show in April 2012 at the Walton Art Center in Fayetteville, AR. You can read more about Listen To Your Mother, a nation series of live shows that are a celebration of motherhood here.
So I got a Facebook friend request from my biological mother…
whom I’ve never met.
There she was in my on my computer screen.
A picture of a 54 year old woman with long dark hair who looked liked she had lived five or ten lives in those five-and-a-half decades.
She looked rough, but in some ways as innocent as a child.
Her eyes were familiar, but nothing else really. I could see low self-esteem and regret in them immediately. How does one radiate low self-esteem and regret in a thumbnail-sized profile picture?
Looking at her now I know that everything I thought would’ve been different about my childhood if I’d been raised by her, would, in fact, have been so.
Growing up I was surrounded by a supportive network of role-model type adults who were appropriately involved in their children’s lives. They were in the bleachers at basketball games, straightening collars and ties at the 8th grade graduation ceremony, serving salad with dinner every night. This was my experience.
Meanwhile this woman I’was traveling from town-to-town and man-to-man probably thinking she’d figure it out “this time” or she’d get it right “this time.”
But she obviously hadn’t… figured it out… or gotten it right.
I felt sympathy for her. I wanted to reach through the screen and grab her face and say, “You CAN do more than this. You CAN be okay.”
But it isn’t that easy is it?
This woman who is nineteen years older than me, seemed child-like.
If I had grown up in the trailer parks and apartments with my birth mom EVERYTHING would be different now.
Instead, my sister and I were removed from our parents when I was six months old and she was two. There was neglect, a little more than recreational drug use and a general lack of supervision. Our parents were teens.
They had been raised right, but they also loved to party. It happens in the best families. Neither of them had been raised in a trailer, much less a single-wide trailer.
I’m certain I would not be where I am right this very moment without the gracious parents who didn’t have to raise me, but did.
It isn’t all about who raises you, though.
While I’ve never met my birth mom, I did however know my birth dad.
He was around, kind of like a
and I thought he was SO. FREAKIN. COOL.
He was a combination of Luke Duke from the Dukes of Hazard (the TV show, not the terrible movie remake) and Hank Williams, JR, or as daddy called him “Bocefus.”
He drank a lot, always won the beer-drinking contest at the local Lutheran church’s Oktoberfest, had three-wheelers, smoked a little Pot and dated trashy women.
You can see why I thought he was so awesome, right?
Then one summer day in 1989, the summer before I started 8th grade, my dad was struck by lightening and killed. This brother/uncle/daddy/hero/role model of mine was gone.
So in his honor I started drinking.
Then my senior year of high school I started smoking pot.
Then my freshman year of college I tried a lot of other, much worse drugs and behaviors.
But those things weren’t in my dad’s honor.
Those other drugs were about addiction, which I battled for years until I hit a terrible bottom and realized I’d been raised better than that.
Six years ago I finally cleaned up.
I got sober because I don’t want to be that woman full of low self-esteem and regret at fifty four.
I want to be the woman who is full of life and energy and amazing experiences.
I want to be a woman that is a great mom, a successful business woman, an expert at something, an athlete. I want to be a good, caring friend. I want to be beautiful, and not tired-looking.
It was difficult, but I turned down this woman’s friend request and sent her note saying someday maybe we’d meet, but it wouldn’t be on Facebook, and I wished her the best.
I don’t know where she is now, and I do care. I want her to be happy, joyous and free the same way I want everyone to be happy, joyous and free. But she isn’t my mother.
My mother, Pat, raised me know that I should…
Listen to your mother when she says “Don’t do drugs.”
Listen to your mother when she says, “You’re capable of more.”
Listen to your mother when she says, “Stick with the winners.”
Listen to your mother when she says, ”everything happens for a reason.”
Listen to your mother when she says, “What does not kills us WILL make us stronger.”
Listen to your mother when she says, “I love you.
Listen to your mother even if she is NOT the one who gave birth to you.
Evolved Mommy is about tech and gadgets as the relate to family life. We talk about Apple products like iPads, iPhones and pretty cases for iPads and iPhones. We talk about gadgets for the home like Nest thermostats and Roombas. We talk about nonsense and life in Northwest Arkansas. Whatever.