Sunday, May 12, 2013

Is Your GPS Working?

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together today, here in the sign of God- and Jewish mothers everywhere to grant pardon or pay homage to our female procreator. This is a day to find the 'perfect card', buy her favorite candy, contend with the maddening crowd at Peppones and honor almighty Mother, au pair, caretaker, parent, nanny and nurse.

My mother has been gone for thirty years but I remember how finding the ‘perfect card’ was no small task and often filled with emotion. I had to begin days before, rummaging the shelves of Hallmark, frisking sales clerks for the latest deliveries for that one card that depicted an unequaled, world class supreme being. Often, I would ultimately concede to the humor section and find something that made me laugh.

I have been armed with a background of guilt and experiencing the psychodynamics of it can be overwhelming to say the least.  Because of this I have very consciously worked hard to disarm it and not to use it on others although there are times I wish I had. Just kidding, kind of. 

 Guilt can be used to attain control, change a point of view or behavior, to break down, to attack and to punish. All in all it’s kind of like the Swiss army emotion, good for manipulating in any situation.

It’s appropriate to feel guilty for something you’ve done especially if it violates your own moral code.  Cheating, lying, stealing, things of this nature qualifies for a huge helping of guilt. Guilt is a built-in barometer that helps to keep us on the up and up but now I’m straying away from the subject of Mother’s Day. A good day to remember that a Guilt Producing Scheme, or GPS as I refer to it must be veiled in sweetness, helplessness or anger. My mother was a master at it and so was my father but let’s leave him out of it, his day is coming next month. 

“After all I have done for you,” was usually the signal that I should get my bag out and start packing because I was going on a long guilt trip. It was usually prompted by something I did that ticked her off, something I didn’t do that ticked her off; something I said that ticked her off or something I was thinking about doing that ticked her off. She was allowed to get ticked off, I wasn’t. As long as I was waiting on her hand and foot (because I know you’ll do it) I could be free of the countless guilt trips good for thousands of frequent flyer miles I might add. If I rebelled, I would be subject to the long, lonely, icy silence that usually prompted my shotgun approach to apologize for everything from unclean thoughts to breathing air that some nice person could be breathing.

By far, the most debilitating form of guilt that I have had to work the hardest to overcome is what I have felt for being a creative type.  I turned toward the arts at a very early age, painting a picture, writing a poem, playing a song on my guitar all were things that were considered frivolous and I was frequently reminded that I should focus my attention on getting a real job like working at the Post Office. Incidentally, I did work at the post office from 1983 to 1989 and I was miserable but that’s another story or perhaps a series of short stories about going postal.  

The sad part of all this was that my mother was creative too. She had several pieces of beaded jewelry and delicately painted porcelain that she had crafted but always kept them hidden away.  Don’t bring attention to yourself, put your light under a bushel, leave things as you found them and for God’s sake, “stop ‘yer braggin’.” She often confused self-esteem with conceit. “I never compliment my girls, I don’t want them to be conceited.” Well, maw, that worked, we’re about ten days past conceited.

Do I love my mother? Yes. Do I think she did the best she knew how? Yes.  I realize that a lot of my issues have her name of them but my solutions clearly have my name on them.  A long term stint in a self help group, thirteen years of psychotherapy and a whole lot of challenging my belief system has set me on the path I need to be thank you very much.

Today I choose to remember the amusing side of my mother like driving and never making a left turn. It’s true, she went everywhere making right turns and it is totally possible but not at all efficient. My favorite of her sayings, “The television gets real clear just before it blows up, always expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed and never eat a banana before going to bed.” I’m sure she’s looking down on me happy that I never did test her banana before bed warning.

I love you mom, Happy Mother’s Day.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting read. I think we all have issues with our parents, even after they're gone. Happy Mother's Day to you.