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A Woman I Didn't Know

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Woman I Didn't Know

I had a good mother but she and I did not have the type of relationship that I would have liked. We didn't share intimate secrets or inside jokes. She wasn't the first person I would think of to call when I had a dilemma. I loved her dearly but I didn't know her at all.

It's taken me a long time to be able to admit that my mother and I were not close, especially since she has been gone for over three years.

My mother was a sweet and giving person. She taught kindergarten or third grade my whole life. She loved to celebrate each and every holiday with gusto. She sent heartfelt greeting cards and made the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet. Her motto was a cliche that I grew to hate: c'est la vie because it became her "go to" response to EVERYTHING.

My mother was a very intelligent woman and I can recall hearing my father comment many times on her high IQ, but she didn't talk very much.

I don't think she knew how to express herself.

Until I realized that, she seemed disinterested, oblivious and even intimated by me. I know she must have had a lot of opinions, but she didn't share them, even after much probing.

There were nightly conversations in our home on a variety of topics ranging from entertainment and politics to current events and religion and it was always my father, sister and me having the discussions, while my mother sat quietly on the sidelines not contributing a word.

Was it our fault?

Did we not include her enough?

Did she think she couldn't relate?

Did she feel as though her opinion didn't matter to us?

It did. Very much.

She appeared to be listening and taking it all in, but there was zero exchange.

I was once at a job for more than two years before she ever asked me what it was that I did.

I can accept the things my mother was, but to this day I cannot accept the things that she was not.

I wish we had both tried harder.

If my mother blogged or even kept a hand written diary when I was Lucas' age, I feel like I would have been privy to a woman I don't feel like I knew. I would have learned of her inner most thoughts and feelings on motherhood, dreams for me and herself. I would be able to read about her passions, joys, sorrows, strengths and weaknesses and love for me.
I would have very much appreciated and cherished a Letters For Tonya blog.

This post was written for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, Prompt 2.) If my Mom were a blogger...

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Blogger Jenna said...

what a difficult post to write, thank you for your transparency in answering this prompt. I wish I knew mine better too, and would have loved reading about her life before I knew her.

April 20, 2011 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

This makes me so sad. I wish that your mom would have had a blog or a journal for you that you could read and get to know her better.

April 20, 2011 at 10:59 PM  
Anonymous MamaRobinJ said...

So sad for you. I wish you had had that too.

April 20, 2011 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Wow. That was really moving... my eyes filled with tears while I read this. I'm so sorry that you have experienced such a loss on so mnay levels. Thank you for sharing... finding the words must have been hard.

April 20, 2011 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Mama Wants This said...

You write beautifully Tonya. I feel almost the same way about my mother. She's still around so I must make more of an effort to know her while I can. Thank you for this post!

April 20, 2011 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Elena said...

This is beautiful, Tonya. I wish you had something to read from your mom. This post basically validated all the time I put into this blog. I hope my boys enjoy reading it someday and get a glimpse of the person I was when they were young.

April 20, 2011 at 11:46 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

This must have been emotional to write. I kind of understand how you feel as my mom and I went through a similar relationship. It wasn't until I became very ill and bedridden that our relationship changed. Thank you for being so open

April 21, 2011 at 12:22 AM  
Anonymous Miel Abeille said...

Now I can see how important this blog is for your relationship with your son. What we post, or don't post, gives a lot of insight into who we are, and what's important to us. My mom & I aren't close at all, and I can't imagine what she would blog about!

April 21, 2011 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I understand completely. Everyone always told me how lucky I was because I had such a wonderful mother. She volunteered for every cause there was so everyone saw her as a giving person. I certainly wasn't neglected or abused. My needs were met. But if I had a different opinion than my parents (even for tiny insignificant things like liking or disliking a song,) my mother acted like a martyr, as if my opinions were personal affronts to her. Once I started to be my own person in my teens, we were never close again. It's sad isn't it?

Please visit my story about a phone call I won't forget:

April 21, 2011 at 12:42 AM  
Blogger My New Normal said...

I'm sure this was hard to write. I have found that as I get older I am starting to see my parents as real people. Real people with good traits and not so good ones. I can recognize now that it't not my fault that they are the way they are. It's not your fault either that your Mother wasn't more open with her feelings. It just wasn't her strength.

April 21, 2011 at 2:33 AM  
Anonymous Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Sad you didn't have good communication with your mom. She probably would have shared more easily on a blog, writing about things. My mom and I were very close and always had a good relationship. I miss her so much!

April 21, 2011 at 3:41 AM  
Blogger JDaniel4's Mom said...

She sounds like an amazing lady. I wish she had been willing to share more with you.

April 21, 2011 at 4:30 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

This must have been so hard to write Tonya. I feel for you so much. The thing that makes you so amazing is that you are doing for your son what you know you needed most. You are one great mom. Lucas is so very lucky.

April 21, 2011 at 4:54 AM  
Anonymous thepsychobabble said...

Sometimes I worry that my children won't know me beyond "Mom- that lady who does the dishes"
It's part of why I blog.

April 21, 2011 at 5:27 AM  
Blogger Shell said...

Oh, it would be so nice to be able to hear my mom's thoughts from when I was young!

April 21, 2011 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Linds said...

Oh, this post got me teared up for sure. My Mom and I weren't close. I was always my Dad's buddy. My Mom seemed like she didn't need a friend, preferring to do whatever her newest "hobby" was. It wasn't until recently that I realized how responsible I was for pushing her away also. We are finally starting to get closer, but still keep it mostly superficial. Baby steps.

April 21, 2011 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Kristy said...

So honest, but beautiful. You really put it out there. I could feel your heart ache.

April 21, 2011 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Oh honey...what a heartfelt post. You tugged at my heartstrings!

April 21, 2011 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

This was really raw and honest, Tonya. And it reminds me of how my mother was when we were kids. I'm so sorry you will never know the things you'd like to. Hugs to you...

April 21, 2011 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Sluiter Nation said...

Wow. This was so honest, Tonya. I didn't share EVERYTHING with my mom either, but we are very close. My mom always made it clear that her children were her world.

But she was silent when it came to opinions and debate. She let the rest of the family talk it out.

And you know? I feel like I blog because I wish there was a "Letters for Kate" out there.

April 21, 2011 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

It's still difficult for me to understand that you had this kind of a relationship with mom when I had such a different one. Sometimes I think, how can we possibly be talking about the same woman? I don't know if it was because we are such different people or what but I always felt her love and just grew to just take her "c'est la vie" answer even when it really annoyed me too. Reading a blog by mom would be incredibly sweet now. XOXO

April 21, 2011 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Justine said...

That's the main reason I write a blog. So my daughter would know me should anything happen to me. Or just to know me more intimately, period.

I wish I knew my own mom better too. She was always a quiet one next to my boisterous dad. Now that he's no longer here, it's hard to unearth the voice that's been buried inside her all these years. But at least I still have a chance to try. So maybe I should.

Thank you for this.

April 21, 2011 at 11:42 AM  
Anonymous alisha said...

what an incredibly difficult piece to did so with so much open heart. lucas is a lucky kid. you are a fabulous woman.

April 21, 2011 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Dysfunctional Mom said...

This was so well written and made me feel sad for you. My mom and I are close in some ways, but we weren't when I was younger, and I wish we were. She didn't relate to me on my level at all. All I can do now is try to be different with my daughters!
I came over from Mama Kat's!

April 21, 2011 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Life with Kaishon said...

This post is very beautifully written. I am so sad for what you didn't have. I will hug my Mom tighter the next time I see her because of reading this. I love teachers : ) and cookies! DEFINITELY love cookies.

April 21, 2011 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger Sophie said...

Tonya, this must have been so difficult to write. I know how much you loved your Mom. I wish she had left you a blog, a diary or something so that you could learn more about her. This post made me teary this morning and I have been thinking about it all day.

You are an extraordinary person/friend, so true with your feelings. I admire you for being able to express them the way you do.

Have a fun w.e. on your own and enjoy reading a book, TV (without being disturbed), lunch with your friends, and a good relaxing bath : )
I'll toast you with a glass of wine! I wish I could come back a year...
Love you, Dear Friend xoxo

April 21, 2011 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger Scary Mommy said...

What I love most about keeping a blog is that, someday, my kids will know me as a person and not just their mom. I think it's an amazing gift to give them. I just hope they'll agree.

April 22, 2011 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger jackie said...

This makes me sad because my mom and I are really close, and I can't imagine not having that type of relationship. I really wish your mom had left some sort of journal for you so you could've known more about what she was thinking or feeling.

April 22, 2011 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

Hugs, my friend. This makes me want to call my mom.

April 22, 2011 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Chick Rose said...

I kinda feel the same way about my Dad, I've gotten better at trying to pick his brain, but I think some people just don't feel like their inner most thoughts matter. They do! But I think unless you're encouraged to share and have a want to just don't. Tell Lucas all the things your Mom didn't get a chance to, it'll even things in the world somehow. xo

April 23, 2011 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger TheKirCorner said...

this touched my heart, because my relationship with my mom is a good one, a strong one and I realize more and more every day how lucky I am to have a mom who talked TO me, who will tell me the stories and find the rainbow for me when I can't. I am sorry you didn't have that, I wish every daughter could know and love her mom, the first and most important role model for her life.

Hugs, Hugs, Hugs

April 25, 2011 at 12:36 PM  

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