Comforting Words: Excuse Me But Simply Giving Birth is not the Holy Grail

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Excuse Me But Simply Giving Birth is not the Holy Grail

It has been a while that I have written a post that generated so many comments – some public but most in private emails.

Is it because I have not been writing a lot lately or was it the topic?

Judging from the nature of the comments, I venture to say it was the latter.

The biblical passages, depth psychological, forgiveness, rebuke, etc were some of the advice thrown my way after reading that Mother's Day is not a merry occasion for me – at least not one where I celebrate the woman who gave birth to me.

I know I might anger, annoy, distance some with my next comment but those who really know me will understand that I don't really care. Popularity is something that has long not been important to me.

Truth is my gal.

Giving birth, planting a seed in a woman's womb, nursing a child via breast milk or the bottle or sending money occasionally does not a parent make.

By now it must be clear that mine is not the school of thought that subscribe to the notion that because a woman gives birth to a child she is a hero, worthy of undying love despite the hell that child was raised in.

Neither am I of the belief that forgiveness means pretending that something never happened. It is therefore useless to send me biblical passages, rebuke, admonishments, etc because I know them as well as you do. The difference is, I don't read the Bible as written by a God who would tell a woman to forget that her father offered her to be raped by visitors to his city.

My dear friends and reader, I read the Bible as a piece of literature written by people a long time ago, chronicling their experience of the world and of God.

So sending me biblical passages because you have assumed that my non-celebration of a woman who stabbed her child not once but twice is due to my lack of forgiveness – you are dead wrong.

One very dear and special friend has even said to let the distant past go. That is easier said than done when the past tries desperately to drag you back to its level of darkness, greed and lack of remorse.

I have no doubt that somewhere in my mother's heart there is hurt and sorrow. At least I hope so.

Yet, after many attempts on my part to ask her to be real with me – even as recently as this past Easter (2010) – she continues to deny doing anything wrong, making any mistakes, plotting with my ex-husband to take my child away from me because she disapproved of my then relationship.

It is clear that my understanding of forgiveness is different from many. Forgiving is not forgetting. 
How do you forget your mother telling you at 14 years of age that you should "go catch man" (get a man) to help pay her bills? How do you forget your mother turning a blind eye and even prostituting you to get her bills paid? How do you forget being told constantly how useless the man who sires you was and how your birth ruined her life?

When you walk in those shoes and then turn around and pay "mother's" bills (medical, rent, debt, etc) for 21+ years – to the point of your own bankruptcy then you can tell me about forgetting.

I will never to my grave forget the beatings, the molestation by the long string of men my mother brought into our lives and who she refused to believe me was having their way with me. I can never forget my mother standing in a town square praying to God to strike me down because I refused to turn over my money to her and her latest boyfriend.

I am a mother now – for 22 years – and I do not take that for granted. Ever since she was born to this day I have been telling my daughter she is a princess. Princess Chulumba is what I called her when she turned 7 until this day.

When I turned 7, I was called useless. That changed to bitch, ho'. By the time I was 25, the only calls I got was for money.

I can never forget not hearing to this day "I am sorry," from my mother.

My respect for my readers and friends is enormous but my self-respect is even greater. I am not a hypocrite and will not be cowered into submission by any amount of biblical passage or words about their understanding of forgiveness by people who have never trod this road.

I received a phone call on Mother's Day from one of those women – Dr. Green – a woman who has been there with me through the days when the woman who birthed me only called to demand more money. Dr. Green as far I know never physically gave birth to a child but she has held me in her arms – literally, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically – through many moments of near insanity that my birth mother has driven me to.

I love my mother for the life that she allowed to pass through her but I have learned, on my own, to love Claudette more.

Without a doubt I hurt but through the love of other women who have mothered me for these many years I survive. It is they who I call mother.

And so again, I respectfully ask, stop judging people like me. Our truth is ours, just like your pain is yours and not for me to judge.















Blogger Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Dear Claudette, I just came across your blog by chance and my interest was caught by the very wise words of your daughter concerning black women and why we should love who we are as made by god. She seems like a very wise young woman and I am sure she didn't become that way all by herself!! Well done!!

I went on to read your second and third blog posts and found myself riveted by your Mother's Day rebuttal. I suppose it is easier for us to judge others and to offer advice than to look into ourselves and accept that everyone has their own burden and as you say until you have walked in another person's shoes you cannot pass judgment. I agree with you that being a biological mother does not mean that you have the skills or ability to nurture a child. I you will allow me please, I would like to observe that your mother was also fighting her own demons due to what happened to her and she doesn't have your strength of character to face those demons head on. It appears that she took out all her feelings of hatred and helplessness on you.

Perhaps she loves you and perhaps she cannot bring herself to love you but I am happy for you that you have come to the realization that you are a beautiful and strong black woman, your own person and no one can take that away from you.

Sat. Jun. 25, 04:34:00 a.m. MDT  
Blogger Claudette said...

Thank you for your kind observations and words about my daughter! Regarding my mother and the relationship with her, you have most definitely hit the nail on the head. This was something that took me a long while to understand but now I do.

Thu. Jul. 07, 07:10:00 p.m. MDT  

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