This Woman’s Work

I’m lucky to have a truly remarkable relationship with my Mother. It’s so good that lately, I’ve gone from being to-the-bone grateful to feeling a little guilty.

Sam’s relationship with his Mom is strained, at best. The two of them are master fishermen who have created a knotted net so finely crafted, nothing can escape it alive – not even their own relationship.

Here’s the fresh catch, from my POV:
Sam was raised LDS as a small child until his parents divorced, and shortly thereafter. There was a brief second marriage, to a man who was apparently more smitten (and indeed questionably) with Sam than with his Mother. They divorced. The real irony here is that in some space between, Sam led his Mother to Jesus. A single Mother desperately trying to provide her son and herself with a stable family unit, she remarried, this time to a Catholic. The man adopted Sam, and made them adopt Catholicism, and then sired a child of his own: a half-brother to Sam. In spite of Sam’s Mother’s best intentions, Sam’s second-class stepchild status was made abundantly clear to Sam on various occasions. Add to this Sam’s burgeoning awareness of his being gay, and you have not only a great first act, but a recipe for disaster.

As they have both grown, Sam’s loyalty to his Mother has been tireless. Hers, not so much, and the evidence indicates there’s a psychological health issue involved.

To truly open eyes, what lies between the son she/they want(ed) and the son Sam actually is, is not a gulf by any means. It’s actually a broad, but easily traversable river. There’s even a rope across it, so that the crossers may better navigate the slippery rocks, but nobody can cross. They can only meet in the middle, and right now, Sam is freezing his ass off there, all alone, at the midpoint.

The saddest thing for them, and the most frustrating thing for me, as Sam’s husband, is that there’s no more virtuous, honorable, loving, loyal, or kind man on the planet, and she’s totally missing out on him.

I don’t know her, but truth be told, I’m quite certain she loves him very, very much. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. Her way is definitely an odd way, but it’s her way, and not mine. It must serve her in some way.

They’ve tried to agree to disagree but unhappy with the day’s catch, she always dredges up that same old stinky fish – the flesh long gone from its bones, picked dry for over a decade, and insists on making a meal of it.

As for me, I’m weary. Tired of the conversation but willing to have it. Frustrated with words that say one thing and actions that shout another. At the end of the day I’ll always bring Sam in from the river, happily, endlessly and without complaint; dry him off, comfort and warm him by our fire, no matter how exhausting it becomes, and we’ll sit and look across the river, at her distant fire, wondering, just wondering. But I don’t know how long we’ll wait. We’re hungry, and we’d kill for a burger.

5 Responses to “This Woman’s Work”

  1. 1 MrsWaltz
    Monday, January 7, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Excellent title (although you have to know this already.) Here’s the thing: you cannot feel guilty (unless you forget how lucky you are. Which won’t happen.) Your mother IS a gem. She loves YOU, not some idea of you that you happened to live up to. The thing is, Sam’s lucky, too; he has you. More people than you know have effed up relationships with their mothers, that grow out of differing expectations. Some of them continue that pattern with their spouses. The lucky ones don’t, though. They’ve found someone who will bring them in and dry them off and love by example. It’s natural to wonder at the distant fire. Just don’t let it get in the way of noticing your own.

  2. 2 aporia24
    Monday, January 7, 2008 at 11:00 am

    You are an amazing writer.
    (but obviously enough you don’t need me to tell you that.)

  3. Monday, January 7, 2008 at 11:31 am

    What an amazing post. I can almost squint and imagine the whole situation away. 🙂

  4. Monday, January 7, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Look, if you title a blog entry after a Kate Bush song, then I think it’s time to do an entry on her.

    You did a great job covering Annie Lennox’s album last year.

    Kate Bush released a terrific double-album two years ago which went completely under the radar. The second disc is particularly inspiring. I wonder if you could listen to it and let us know your impressions.

    Kate Bush has unique way of putting the aches of a troubled relationship into song.

    Hang in there with your mother-in-law. It’s never too late for surprises.

    -Just Jared.

  5. Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Thanks Jared. Okay, Kate Bush is in the queue. I’m pretty sure I have it. Until then, I hope Siouxsie will siouxffice. 🙂 -Billy

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