Saturday, January 10, 2009

sins of the father

I've been told my entire life that I look exactly like my mother. (Well, except that one time when I was about 12 and went for an exceptionally bold and very short haircut and was mistaken by one of my dad's oldest friends for my brother. Oh, the scarring, how it is permanent.) I realize that my mom has always been a very attractive woman, even now at 54 keeping in great shape and never without lipstick just a shade too bright. And yet I've always found myself slightly doubting of our physical similarities, regardless of how blatant they are.

However, when looking at baby pictures of the two of us I am happy to acknowledge that we're nearly identical. Full lips, big, smiling eyes, a self confidence that's obvious even from toddler-hood. I see those faces, nearly indistinguishable, and see girls full of promise and joy and I don't deny that we were similar not only in bone structure but in outlook. Obvious innocence. A clear belief that the world was ours to discover. And so I am forced to conclude that my reluctance to accept the undeniable family resemblance has nothing to do with my disbelief or unwillingness to see the similarities, but rather my fear that the similarities run much deeper than our full pink lips.

My mom is a bold woman, determined, outspoken. I've admired her strength through 2 divorces, both of which were abusive (in different ways). I respect her insistence on speaking her mind and I commend her determination to stick it out once she makes up her mind. But sometimes, in speaking of those divorces (one to my father - a terrible husband but a great dad) she appears as a martyr. I can't help but see that when she speaks her mind she does so in a way that often disregards how the listener will receive that message - believing that sharing her opinion is more important than preserving the feelings of those she looks down upon from her pulpit. And her determination is sometimes just thinly veiled stubbornness; a refusal to accept her own faults and mistakes.

And I know that I too carry each of those strengths and every one of those burdens in my own gut. I can feel them. They're so heavy.

I believe that more often than not women find themselves wanting daughters (and men, sons) either because of or in spite of their own maternal relationships. It's usually clear that the new mom is intent on duplicating her own relationship with her own daughter or on wiping the slate clean and fixing the mistakes she feels she suffered at her own mother's hands. My mom, desperate for a girl when I was in utero, obviously had some perceived wrongs to right - she's told me as much growing up, priding herself on how different she was with me. But I hear her complaints about her mother and I feel as though a mirror is being held just inches from my own nose. But she would never see it. Never admit it.

I too have always wanted a daughter. Always. Always. But in all my soul searching, regardless of how deeply I've dug, I haven't been able to determine whether I hope to correct the mistakes she clearly made or whether I yearn for a similarly passionate and deep relationship with my own child. Simply stated, at 30 years old I still do not know if I love my mother or loathe her. But I've always known that I too, want the opportunity to have my daughter ask herself that same question someday, painful though I'm sure it would be for me to hear. It's a conflict that runs deep in many a woman's soul, I'm certain.

And so the universe has taken pity on me. Removed from the picture any fears of reliving the sins that were thrust upon me. The universe has, it appears, given my baby a penis.

I expected in that moment, when the pointy part was clear and we heard the ultrasound tech say "it's a boy!" to feel disappointment. I prepared myself for the inevitablity that I would need to adjust to the fact that I was looking at soccer balls rather than debutante balls. But I surprised myself when at those words I felt nothing but pride, joy and excitement about the little man growing in my womb. The world wasn't closed on me in that moment, my options weren't limited. I became a mom with a son who I loved.

In that moment I realized that my relationship with my mother isn't perfect. It's not ideal and it won't ever be. But it is full and it is fiery. It is enough.

17 comments:

Kingwoodgal said...

CONGRATS!!!! I'm sososo excited for you guys! A little boy - how wonderful! <3 Kim (Kingwoodgal)

Emily said...

Amber!!! How happy was I to see you on my blogroll?!?!

Congratulations on your sweet baby boy! What wonderful, heartwarming news. I wants boys so badly - honestly, I could take or leave a daughter. As your post points out, I can surely blame mama for that in spite of how very much I love her.

This is a fantastic post for many, many reasons. Happy to celebrate your good news today!

Love the pic - you do look just like her. 2 beautiful, strong, resilient women...

Jill said...

Congratulations!! I'm so excited for you! =)

Lil Missy said...

congrats, that's so great!!

Amy C said...

Congrats!!!! I love little boys!!!! How many weeks are you now? Are you feeling okay???

Lorraine said...

When I was pregnant with my first (almost eleven years ago) I did desperately want a daughter, maybe for all of the reasons you wrote about. And I got one, and our relationship has truly changed my feelings about the mother-daughter dynamic (although we have yet to get through the teen years...)

Now that I'm pregnant again, I am hoping for a boy - not just for one of each, but to have the experience of helping to shape one of those mysterious males, those beings who have fascinated and frustrated my friends and me for years. I always wondered how men got to be the way they are, and I want to know for myself!

Davenports said...

What a fabulous post. I have to admit that when I was pregnant with Mia, I yearned for a boy because I didn't think I could handle the intense relationship between a mother and daughter. Funny how it turns out...

congratulations x1000 on your little boy! I'm fantastically excited for you. :)

theworms said...

I am so happy to see a new post :) CONGRATS on your baby boy!! So happy for you. I want boys because of my relationship with my mother. We are too much alike.

Thank for the amazing post and for making me think.

You've been tagged on my blog (this was an effort to get you to post something again =)

Lisa said...

First, congrats! Second - I hear you - I have two sisters and love the drama of women and would love to have a girl...but to have a boy and show him how to be a good man...that is amazing in and of itself.

charlotteL said...

Congratulations!

Kelli said...

YAY!! Congratulations to you. I had to laugh at your post. I'm petrified to have a girl for that reason, I don't want them to hate me or tell me later on I'm a bad mom. Sons are wonderful. So happy for you!

Renee and Philip Schreibman said...

I dont know you but I just came across your blog and this blog brought tears to my eyes.....Thank you for these words!

Jenn said...

yay! congrats on a lil man!

Jessatsea said...

I was TERRIFIED of a son. They have penis's... what do I do with THOSE?
now that I have a boy... I can have no greater gift than to have his little chubby hands reach out, embrace my neck and pull me just a little bit closer.

I cannot wait to have you share that experience with me, my friend.

congratulations on your son.

macfamilytx said...

Congrats!!! I have been thinking about you and am always happy to hear that things have been well.

KandiB said...

What a wonderful post. I love the idea of loving or loathing your mother. It's so true. As we get older, we realize, painfully so, that our parents are just humans, wrought with just as many insecurities and issues as anyone else.

I find out at the end of the month if it's a boy or girl. I wonder every day if I'd rather have the complex relationship of a mother/daughter, or that of a mother/son. It's so complex! Thanks for putting a finger on it.

Jenni Wailes said...

Congrats!!! boys are fun!