startled to use that name for her, it seems more kind than to call her my biological mother, but the privilege of holding the honored position as my mom has been lost.
We’ve teetered on and off this precipice for weeks (maybe for a lifetime, that’s certainly for another essay), but this instance I slipped under shaky footing. I fell to the ground near the edge, and my heart sank as the hardened rocks of dried soil under my feet tumbled down the cliff not to return. With the visceral feeling of that free fall and the bruises suffered in a near catastrophe, her right to be in that honored position vanished.
my struggle in this time of coming out to close friends and family is in how to respond to others in a way that is true to my aspirations of kindness. I may let her remain in my life simply because of that, I do not know.
Kindness, though focused on others for the seemingly hardest type and the oft subject of religious folk can also be needed by ourselves and from ourselves. So here I find myself at a crossroads with two individuals who seem to not belong together, me, and her, and how to be true to my values in the aftermath of my epiphany.
there are many reasons for her inability or unwillingness to speak to me since telling her that I am not her son, but instead a woman, and there is a sharp distinction between those two characterizations which could be discussed and debated for days, but the result is the same, great and deep pain I can only imagine similar to the death of a family member.
Sure she may say she feels the same, that sense of great loss, but I did not respond as she did. I did not reject her, I did not abandon her, I did not stop talking to her, I did not apologize to her for her very existence, I did not look to others to see how they were doing when she responded with tears and grief. In that moment, I looked at her and from my strength said I was here, that I loved her, that I would be patient and supportive as she struggles *with me* in her journey, and I hoped we could walk together in joy and kindness.
She then left and nearly two months have passed.
What I remember about her is what she consistently said, and much of that was about the importance of kindness, about compassion for others, not judging those whom we do not understand, but it has occurred to me that in each of these moments she was the one asking for kindness, for compassion and to be understood, she was not saying she could or would do the same for others. In the parable of the Good Samaritan and the corresponding exhortations to love others as ourselves found in the Torah for which she draws so much of her faith it is in fact not what she does. She has worn the mantle of widow (as a single woman and mother) exclusively so as to protect her from the obligation of her faith to do the hard work of loving others, and once again, I am the one who falls prey to unmet hopes of motherly love.
The sad part for her is the consistent theme of her life has been to be the victim. though she is fully entitled to walk that path and no question what I laid on her is unfair and difficult to overcome, it will play out very predictably. She will suffer immense pain and regret as her life closes and the sun sets. she will reach out, and with tears streaming down her face she will share regrets that she chose not to embrace me when I needed my mom.
I guess the only question is how will I respond? I hope with strength and resolve I will chose to be kind to both of us.
early August 2014