1 Tolmaran

My Mentor Essay For Mom

An Essay: My Mentor & Enemy

My mother has always been a source of pain and disappointment in my life.  Sometimes it is from the affect she has on my world and sometimes it’s because I let her thoughts go through to me and I ruin everything myself-  she haunts me.  Years of abuse from  her,  being property of child protective services and  then coming back home to a changed woman--  one who was no longer decayed –  killed me.  I will always be left without that sparkling youth that made me cry in joy and smile over pain because she left me thinking I deserved it all.  She has made me want to be better.  I need to be better, and from that she may not have given me a lifeline but an anchor that I may just spend my whole life groveling to, trying to climb.  She makes me try.

            Tammara is a woman of strength;  It is a strength I can never touch because she has been on her own her entire life.  She clings to people to make things easier for her but it is only out of selfishness.  I see her trying to change that sometimes;  With my return in her life followed by a move away from the only town (and the only state)  she has been in long enough to call it home and my stepfather’s cancer  I have watched her grow.  It has helped me too.  She is stubborn and empty,  barren from her six children,  none of whom have been enough for her because she has never been enough for herself.  She is full of extraordinary talent. The woman is beautiful and not in appearance or even in actions but in ideas.  She has always been capable but does not have the faith or confidence or care to push herself…  everyone else though,  she thrusts.  Tammy is a hypocrite and a liar.  Most my life she was been a morbidly obese,  pasty red-head with long stiff nails that dig in your skin and plain eyes with nothing in them-  light would not touch them to reflect hope or happiness.  Now she has had surgery and all the fat that hid her is melting.  I have turned just as cold skinned as her,  I hate the outdoors.  She is fifty since December and her hair has faded in color to a more flattering solid brown while her nails have gone brittle and she wears them trimmed.  Sometimes I look into her eyes and I see my best friend.  My only friend.

            My mom had me learn through my mistakes and never my accomplishments.  There is always a failure and I had a fiasco on my hands since birth.  She believed firmly,  when I was young,  in punishment over positive reinforcement.  I do not think she knew at the time that you can lead by example,  and if she did she certainly did not use the technique.  When you did something bad you deserved bad done to you,  and if you did nothing wrong the reward was to go on without paying the price.  There was no way to know what that price was going to be.  I always paid in some way.

As hard as life with her was I learned to take a deep breath and live.  It is something that recently I have been forgetting.  Until things escalate it’s hard for me to remember now,  to pick myself up,  push everything down bellow me with the ground and then start to walk again.  When things with her were at their worse I use to run.  Once,  she had a fit.  My mom kept leaving the house screaming and crying hysterically at me about how I should die,  I ruined everything, she didn’t need me,  I was over-reacting and she wanted to go.  I was about five,  it was pitch dark out and my brother,  Alex,  sat on the edge of my bed and held me as she continually left the house from the front door out into the cold and then coming back in because I had the weakness and indecency to cry.  My room at the time,  in that small apartment I spent the beginning of my life in,  was claustrophobic sized and had me look into the kitchen when the door was open.  I had to watch her and I hated that room.  I hated the house.  I hated her.  But I am proud of myself that I don’t anymore,  because she trained me to be strong.  Whenever I can look at myself in pride it is because of what she did not give to me.  I earned the things I got and I am not sure I ever earned her love,  which came out of guilt much later from abandonment,  but I earned the right to cry.  I worked for my strength.

            Today,  I talk to her like we are cronies and it s not hard to throw out a fake grin-  overtime those things become real.  Most days she is pleasant and she apologized about how I felt about what happened when I was younger.  She does not take responsibility but I am not punished.  I’m never bruised or hurt and that means everything.  To be honest, without the scars and bruises I do not feel tough.  She does not either.  Still, we have both moved on.  She has never been a parent and I was never a daughter or child.  Tammara is her own woman and I stand for my own faults.  I will never forget any of the vile things she said or the grief I have felt by her hand.  There were times where I can truly say I did not love her.  She had made me bleed too many times to feel.  Now we beam at one another and I do love her.  How could I not?  She is my mother, my best teacher.

My love of words began early, thanks to my mom. Perhaps it was the example she set, curled up with a cup of tea and a good book — almost always a mystery — or Friday evening “reading nights,” when she allowed me and my younger brothers and sister to stay up beyond our regular bedtime, tucked into our beds with books. Maybe it was the weekly trips we made to the library with her, when we all scattered, pouring over the shelves.

The affinity for the printed page that my mother nurtured would later lead me to move from my hometown of Niagara Falls, N.Y., to New York City to take a job in magazine publishing. But mom’s influence on my career didn’t stop there.

My mom, who died three years ago, was a strong role model, a woman who was unafraid to express her opinion and had a sharp intellect.

In the late ’50s, my mother graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry and worked as a research chemist at the American Meat Institute in Chicago. She never considered herself a pioneer, but even as a child I sensed that she had been one. I learned years later that as she approached graduation, she sent out three resumes with her name—Pat Davidson—at the top and received three offers. But one of the offers was rescinded when they discovered she was a woman. The reason? The lab didn’t hire women. No other explanation was necessary in those days.

After marrying my dad, whom she met at college, and moving to Niagara Falls, my mom quickly became pregnant. She stayed home to raise me and my three siblings, who soon followed. Though she took the traditional route, we kids always knew our parents had a full partnership. My mom didn’t defer to my dad and they made all decisions together. Our parents freely shared, debated — even argued — ideas and politics. They were both willing to defend their children, even to the nuns and priests in our Catholic grammar and high schools. We never waited for my dad to come home to discipline us. Mom took action on the spot.

During summers, we would visit my grandma in Chicago with my mom for several weeks, with my dad joining us at the end. She took pleasure in taking us downtown to visit museums, shop and explore. When the King Tutankhamun exhibition first came to the Field Museum 30 years ago, my mom was determined that we would see it. Three mornings in a row, we drove downtown in an attempt to get tickets, leaving earlier each day. Never a fan of rising early, I had lost all interest in the exhibition by the last day. But finally, we were victorious, and seeing King Tut’s mask, which is not in the current exhibition, is something I will always remember.

As a child, I knew that my mom was more outspoken and independent-thinking than some of my friends’ mothers, and I was proud of that. Conversely, being the oldest child, I sometimes found myself struggling with speaking up, since my natural inclination was to smooth things out.

My mom never returned to the workforce, but she was actively involved in organizations and clubs as long as I can remember. She had good instincts for advising me on professional, as well as personal, situations. Her greatest gift was her willingness to listen to me, make me feel understood, and to always present the other side. As outspoken as she was, my mom was able to see situations from others’ viewpoints and to truly empathize, a trait that is essential in communications.

I find myself calling upon her strengths every day.

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