Monday, August 2, 2010

The Failure of My Mother

A young woman grows up in a family, one of four children of two parents, Mom and Dad – second generation Italian Americans - parents who love them and worked hard for them. Two parents who modeled good, strong American values, hard work, loyalty and responsibility to family and country. European immigrant values coming to the land of the free and the home of the brave. The country where hard work, strong ethics and for the women the ability to cook a fabulous spaghetti sauce and stand by their men are paramount.

This young woman feels different, feels that she is missing something, some vital piece or part of the normal human machine, the normal ‘girl’ mechanism that dictates her desire to date boys, to talk about boys, to be with boys, to LIKE boys. The desire for a home and a family of her own one day where she cooks for thirty family members at Christmas.

“What am I missing?” she asks of herself every day. Her younger sister, her brothers, they all got the ‘gene’. The “I want a home and children of my own someday” gene. What line did she miss getting in when they were handing out that vital part?

She wanders through adolescence, graduates high school, goes to college and the whole time she feels different, she knows she is different. And that difference is shameful. Oh she goes through the dating motions, it’s what girls are supposed to do yes? But her heart isn’t in it, she’s just doing it because she thinks this is what she’s supposed to be doing, this is what she’s supposed to like and want. She becomes isolated, she keeps her thoughts and her fears to herself. Nobody wants to hear this, nobody EXPECTS to hear this from her, least of all her mother. This is not the way she was raised… to be like this.

How could she possibly tell anyone when they don’t expect to hear this from her? She cannot stand to think about the response that she would get from family and friends. How could she be like this? They won’t understand and she cannot find a way to explain. She doesn’t know how to explain, nobody ever talked about such things in her family. Why would they? There is no precedence and besides this is so ABNORMAL.

She begins to distance herself from her mother. If she cannot talk to her mother about the most vital part of herself, the most personal, the core of her being what have they got to talk about? Her mother speaks of the life she knows, what it means to be a woman, where her family is everything, the very center of her life. She loves them, she cooks for them, she cleans for them, she wants what’s best for them which is of course a home and a family. That's what it's all about right girls?

And so in her isolation, alone with her feelings of defectiveness, of shame, of abnormality she knows the disappointment her mother would feel in her oldest daughter.  In her isolation alone with her feelings of defectiveness and shame and abnormality she comes to realize that she is the failure of her mother.  How could she possibly ever find the words to tell her?


  1. Powerful. You are such a great writer.

  2. Hi LM - well the 'great writer' part is debateable but I very much appreciate your compliment and I'm glad you like.