Monday, September 15, 2003

Mom, Robots and September 16

My mother crossed my mind today. Tomorrow would have been her birthday. In some respects it is odd that I remembered. Some years I have missed the connection to the date entirely, only to remember many days later. She died Valentine's Day a few months before my son was born, many years ago now.

I was websurfing today and stumbled upon a humanoid robotic project site at MIT. It reminded me of her desire to have a robot that she could command verbally to take care of the routine tasks of upkeep in a home. She would have been excited about the research they are doing. She would have been amazed at home computers and the internet. I can visualize the things she would do if she had lived to see it. It is funny how odd details in memory pop up like that.

It wasn't until later that I realized that tomorrow would have been her birthday.

She was barely a teenager when she had me and I was in my early thirties when she died. I was in the fog of pregnancy and felt her loss, yet somehow did not process it entirely until much later. The loss and grieving came in bits and pieces as I was busy learning the tasks and basking in the joys and terrors of being someone's mother.

There were days after my son was born that I would pick up the phone to call her to talk or ask a question or share some detail about motherhood- only to realize a second or so after having the receiver in my hand and just as I was about to dial the number I know by heart, that she wouldn't be at the other end of the line. It was still happening even a year or so later. It was always an eerie, hollow, lonely feeling when it did. A hole in my heart that most days I didn't realize was there.

I did that less and less as time went on. And then one September I forgot her day, and another... and then some years I would remember and some I would forget.

She never made it to the age I am now. She was a little fearful of aging and the different losses it can bring. She could not think of any pluses. I can. She helped me to be, to question, and to learn many things- most of them good. Included in those things is my desire to puzzle out human behavior, though I am sure she did not realize how she nurtured that one. But, there were also some lessons on how not to deal with life.

She was intelligent and capable, beautiful and clever. She was also insecure, though that was a part she thought she hid from the world. She thought that her worth and value came entirely from the approval and opinions of others and carried with her a fear that they would withdraw their approval. I don't know if she would have ever learned that it did not, that basing self worth on approval from others is a precarious place to look for value. We have to start with finding our own self worth. The approval from others comes after and sometimes it doesn't, but the world doesn't end either way. Perhaps it is enough now that her daughter did learn and does understand.

So this year I remember; I am glad she was born; I am glad she was my mother.

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