Psychobabbler noted in her comment on my post My Mother and Steve Jobs that there is no excuse for that sort of insensitivity (meaning the kind my mother displayed). I would be inclined to agree if I thought for a second my mothers comment was intentionally insensitive, more so if I thought she was even aware of what she said.
I don’t think she is. My mother likely views Steve Jobs/Jandali situation completely different from mine. Moreover, she is also likely to think Steve Jobs adoption was a good thing for she can easily cite how good he turned out and assume that was due to nurture not nature. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my mother is a product of her environment. (Don’t forget that letter I wrote to her parish priest).
My mothers believes — even to this day — that infants are better off without their mothers when they are born to a young unwed mother. We have gone many rounds on this topic over the years. At this point in my life, and hers, I no longer bother attempting to convince her otherwise. She believes what she believes and she does so based on what she was raised with and what the God she worships tells her.
My mother is as much a product of her upbringing, her primary socialization, as I am of mine. Even if, and this is a whopper of an IF, I were to successfully illustrate to my mother the pain adoption causes to surrendering mothers (because apparently my own pain is not evident enough for her), I still do not believe she could connect the dots from that pain to mine and ultimately, her own.
Why do I believe this?
For my mother to see my pain, she must see what caused it and she had a large part in that cause. To see the pain of mothers like me is to see me is to see her contribution to what happened to me and my first-born and ultimately her own pain and loss of her first-born grandchild.
I believe it is too much for her. I state this based on my forty-four years of knowing my mother and her way of handling things. Her way? Her familial way?
If we don’t talk about it, it does not exist. So here, have a spot of tea will you and lets forget that adoption nonsense, why don’t we? If you live in the past, you die in the present. She might even say something like no sense crying over spilt milk, even if in my case it was breast milk that my body created specifically for my child. She doesnt entirely believe these things but it what she has been taught to feel, say and do in response to emotional trauma. It is akin to whispering the word “cancer” when sharing a friends diagnosis with the big C. If it is not spoken very loud, you might be able to escape from it yourself.
In my mothers every day world, the world she functions best in, my daughter, my adoption trauma, does not exist. We don’t talk about those things and it is poor manners for me to bring it up. For these reasons and many more, I believe she did not think for a millisecond about me, about my daughter, while she was commenting on Steve Jobs and his adoption reunions status. I do believe it crossed her mind once I made my comment but I am quite confident it crossed very quickly. It was seen, felt, and quickly stuffed back under her rosary beads, missellette and Irish Catholic guilt. Her conditioning took over.
One might assume from the tone of this post that I am angry or bitter about this. I am not, at least not hugely so. My mothers beliefs no longer affect my daily life. Rather they effect the depth of our relationship. I am okay with where it is now. Digging up the old dirty laundry will not bring my daughter back to me, will not give me back those lost years, will not even make my daughter want to meet me. When it comes to relationships, the lack of one with my first-born child is the only one that still aches my heart. Demanding my mother see my POV is likely only to make her angry and even cry. Who wants to make their 67-year-old mother cry? She has hurt enough, as have I.
My mother means well. She does the best she can given what she was given. She may be insensitive at times but she is unintentionally insensitive, of that I am sure.
Let me state this in a more personal and succinct way, in what others call “I” language.
I surrendered my child to adoption because I believed what others told me. I knew on a cellular level that it was wrong and against my maternal instincts, but I believed what others told me, I trusted the authorities in my life and believed they knew better than I did, much like my mother believes Father Lynch and her Irish Catholic teachings. I learned I was wrong. My mother has never learned that. She believes what she has been conditioned to believe. I have had the luxury of an education, experience, therapy that taught me that what I believed, what I was told, was wrong. I was taught how to think critically (albeit a few years too late). I was able to resocialize myself and discard the values and norms my family taught me. My mother has not had that benefit. If I want to be understood for my own mistakes (that of believing others and surrendering my child to strangers), my own shortcomings, my own negative conditioning, I feel I must grant my mother the same understanding.