Raised by Grandparents: When My Mother Stopped Being my Mother
Can you imagine giving your kids to your mom? Or anyone, for that matter?
I don’t mean for a weekend or even for a summer vacation. I mean packing up their things and sending them off for an indeterminate amount of time.
Why am I even thinking of this? I don’t know. I like to keep things lighthearted around here, but every now and then something out there (maybe one of my muses) says “Hey, Tiff? You need to talk about this.” So, here I am typing away — self-analyzing, I reckon. Blogging is really cheap therapy.
When my mother was about my age, she, for all intents and purposes, stopped being my mother. I was around eight at the time. The summer after third grade I came down to visit my grandmother and never went back. I’m trying to remember if at any point there was any turmoil over my sister and I staying down here, and I can’t seem to recall there being any on my grandmother’s end. She didn’t complain or whine about her lot in life. She was 67 and had already raised eight of her own children — the youngest was/is my mother. You’d think that someone who’d worked so hard her entire life would be ready to have some peace in retirement. Nope. She was always receiving other peoples’ kids for periods short and long when their parents were going through things.
She didn’t say anything ill about it. We said we wanted to stay. She took us to school the Monday after Labor Day (school was already in session here by then) and enrolled us. Then she found a lady to give us piano lessons.
I don’t complain about my childhood from age eight going forward. It wasn’t at all tumultuous. I got everything I needed and a lot of what I wanted. I grew up to be a generally polite, pretty moral (though occasionally sardonic) woman. I know my grandmother loved me or she wouldn’t have taken me. And I loved her. She was one of those people with a protective energy that people want to cling to.
I guess my mother loves me. I guess. She says she does. (I can’t refute that because I’m not a mind reader.) She also thinks I’m disrespectful and hateful. *shrug*
I have absolutely no ill will towards her about “giving” us to her mother (my sister did eventually go back to the city). If anything I have a MAJOR dose of curiosity about how she endured it. She said she missed us and wanted to take us back. (I wouldn’t have gone back, but that’s a post for another day.)
When I look at my kids and think about packing up their little suitcases and sending them away, I want to wrap my arms and legs around them and bar the doors. I can’t imagine not looking at their little faces when they sleep. I can’t imagine not yelling at Rosco in the car because I see him in the rearview mirror poking Em. I can’t imagine not seeing them meet their milestones and marveling about how smart they are. I look into their eyes and see how they look back and already understand so much.
Can you imagine it? Your kids calling someone else “Ma?”