Finding the Good Mother Within

Making a Home vs. Being a Mother

AB: You've talked about how the emotional aspects of being a mother are more important than the responsibilities of making a home for children. Tell me more about this -- isn't it loving to take care of your family's needs?

KB: My grandmother was a great homemaker -- every day we had full healthy meals and laundry appeared in my drawer cleaned, mended, ironed if needed. She was very comfortable with the whole domestic arena. And I think a lot of that is important. But it is way less important than the emotional piece. I'll give you an example of the emotional piece: When I was 7, the winter after the spring that my mother died, I went shopping with my grandmother. I found my way to the greeting cards and sat and read every greeting card. And I suddenly realized she wasn't there. And it was growing dark outside and I panicked. I was really scared and I looked everywhere in the store for her. I finally went to the door where we had come in and I saw her driving down the street. She was literally leaving me behind. I don't know that she would have gone home. Maybe she was just so angry that she was going to drive around the block and see when I would have left the store. She never told me what she was doing.

What it told me was that she wasn't there for me emotionally; she could leave me at any moment. And so it made me fixate on her, it made me focus on her needs, and try to fulfill them. Which was the exact opposite of what a child needs. She was supposed to be doing that for me.

Of course, there are so many reasons why she couldn't do that, and I understand those as an adult and as a mother. Once I became a mother I could begin to touch the depths of what losing her only child meant to her. She was deeply wounded, she was shut down, and she couldn't allow herself to love me. But I only know that now, and of course all that growing up time I had no idea.

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