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Whilst my creative writing group has been disbanded for now, I am still keeping up with my creative writing efforts – my creative writing facilitator would be pleased! Upon thinking about what mother’s day is all about, about how I am as a mother myself and about how my mother was as a mother for me, I wrote this creative writing piece title “Thinking Of Mother”.
MY CREATIVE WRITING PIECE
Title: “Thinking Of Mother”
It’s hard to think about my mother in a totally positive way, when on Mothers’ Day this is exactly what a child is meant to do! My sister, brother and I grew up in a sadly dysfunctional family. But for the purposes of thinking about the fact that it is mothers’ day, I really want to just consider some of the best of my mother, and it will be hard to do this without looking at some of the worst of my childhood life.
Mother was born in a rural country town NSW Australia, one of three girls. My understanding of my mother’s life is regretfully poorly formulated. We were estranged for many years during my adult life; during a time when I had started my own family and became a mother myself. We only got to reunite for a 6-month period before she died of cancer on March 2, 1998. It was a dreadfully sad and painful time, with much left unsaid; and a parting of ways through her death that left many of my childhood questions unanswered.
During my mother’s childhood, I believe my mother was raised by nuns, as her own mother died when she was a very small child and her father was a soldier in World War II. This meant there was no one willing and/or able to care for my mother and her two older sisters, hence being raised by nuns. This upbringing left wounds that never seemed to heal and I remember my mother saying to me on different occasions during my childhood, that at times the nuns were cruel, that she had never learned how to be a mother, that she had to teach herself. On reflection, this seemed to be some sort of excuse my mother would utter, when she felt she had got the act of mothering all wrong. In her defense, I always remember her as being a very hard worker and she ended up being the main ‘bread winner’ for our family for most of our childhood. Our father, the man she married and stayed married to for all of our childhood lives, and literally for ‘better or worse’ was a man who was deeply troubled. He developed into an alcoholic, very early in their marriage and became a brutal man to both my mother and to each of us as children, with my brother experiencing the worst of what he had to offer. I remember many times being terrified during my father’s drunken outbursts and furious rage.
But back to the memory of my mother, she was a beautiful, attractive woman and I remember her mostly – as a kind person. During my very early childhood, mum would make our clothes and I remember wearing very pretty dresses on special occasions with pride, she was very creative and most resourceful. On one occasion, I remember she had made my sister and I a new dress each out of the old curtains that had once hang from the lounge room window. I also remember her being a very good cook, although I don’t believe she started off being able to cook, this skill was developed out of necessity and it ended up being one of her professions during her later working years. Life was not easy for my mother for sure, as it was a time in history, during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s when family domestic violence was considered a family matter, and a wife in those days, was required to ‘put up and shut up’ about any such matters. A time, when if a woman went to the police seeking protection from their brutal husband, they would be turned away being told that it was a family matter and go and sort it out with your husband – the very person serving out the domestic violence. It was also a time where there was little to no support for a woman with small children and particularly if they decided to leave their husband. My mother did leave my father on one occasion. She packed up the little Volkswagen car one afternoon with as much worldly possessions as she could, along with us three small children and off we went. On that particular night, I remember as a small child and the eldest of the three of us – we stopped and stayed in a rental caravan which leaked as it rained on that night. For dinner we had bread and jam and I remember thinking at the time that things must be really bad if that’s all we got for tea. Mum was sad and desperate and brave. As I said before, it was a time in history when it was a very socially unacceptable thing to do – leave your husband, it was considered almost shameful, no matter what was happening in the home.
As time went on during this part of our lives, it became too difficult for my mother on her own rearing us three small children, trying to put a roof over our heads, cloths on our backs, food in our bellies, send us to school, keep us healthy and paid all the bills. And then the breaking point came, I remember, my mother read out a letter from my father to me, perhaps not the whole letter, I cannot remember, but a letter that begged us to all return with many promises to change his ways and so it was – we set back to my father after he had tracked her down and persuaded my mother to return. Sadly – this was a dreadful mistake, but I try to remind myself, that she was a woman on her own, with three small children, no family support, no government support, low wages – it must have been very hard for her; it was for us three small children as I remember it. Perhaps, if it was in today’s time, where women can gain some sort of support, things may have hopefully been different, she could have made better choices for herself, for her children. This I have told myself throughout my adulthood life, so as to help me understand why my mother went back knowing that he, my father was an alcoholic brutal man.
So when thinking of mother on Mothers’ day, I can’t help thinking about what it means to be a mother. It’s a hard job, and there is plenty of room for mistakes – poor judgements but there is also an opportunity to take these things learned and try to make good with the next generation of children; to hopefully be a better mother than one’s own. To raise children that will love and remember us as mothers in a kindly way, to remember the best of us….
© Karen Robinson, May 2016
This Mothers’ Day for me, was spent with my dear sweet daughter, my husband, my daughter’s husband and his parents and his brother. We had a lovely lunch and time together. My daughter gave me a Mothers’ Day card with words she had particularly written herself and was keen to make sure I knew that as she knows that words are important to me. This is what she wrote:
Thanks for everything you are…
Thanks for everything you do…
Thanks for always being there…
Love always and forever…
Thank you beautiful daughter for your loving words! It was also a little difficult on this day and any given Mothers’ Day since 2009 – because my son, my daughter’s brother – is not with us anymore, so Mothers’ Day can be happy and sad, both at the same time.
Written by © Karen Robinson, May 2016
Whilst you are here – please check out my home page! Post-traumatic Growth – My Art Therapy Journey – A window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytelling…by Karen Robinson