In my life, I had a mother who was not nearly as exciting as my father. But my mother was always a presence and I knew she loved me and my brothers.
My gentleman friend often said his life would have turned out differently, if he had had a mother at home. He said this frequently, even sixty years after the time when a mother’s guidance was most important.
The influence of a mother? Not always what a child wants. I just read a book In Pursuit of Radio Mom: Searching for the Mother I Never Had. The author, Terry Crylen, did have a mother, but one she sometimes feared and one who is quoted in the book as saying “I wish to Christ you were all dead.”
“You all” included seven other children in addition to Cryden. And the part about the radio? As a youngster, Cryden would put her ear up to the family radio and imagine that her real family were somehow inside the radio.
Crylen’s mother was many not-so-wonderful things including moody, Here’s a quote from the book:
“On her bad days, the air crackled with tension. From the pantry where I pretended to be looking for food, I’d watch her. Slouched in a chair at the kitchen table, she’d tap her fingers on its Formica top and stare out the window. Too scared to go near her and too scared to move to another part of the house, I’d wait, hoping for a miracle. Maybe this would be the one time when Mom would rise up out of her chair and say something — anything that might indicate that the mysterious black spell had been broken.”
Many more paragraphs are like this, but despite having a dysfunctional mother, Crylen grew up, went to school, had several relationships with men, went to still more school and ended up with a PhD from Northwestern University. Crylen worked as a marriage counselor–all the while being in a not-so-satisfying marriage that “was whizzing down an ice-glazed hill.”
A daughter came from that marriage and then we follow Crylen’s many difficulties with her daughter. “I failed and released a year’s worth of worry, despite my continuing fear that something terrible was happening to my daughter.”
Eventually, we also see a remarkable turn-around inn Crylen’s relationship with her own mother.
At times, I was surprised at the frankness of the story, How can a woman with a PhD and a history with a mother who hated being a mother then have difficulties with her own daughter–and talk about it? Yes, I couldn’t have done it, but I recommend this very well-written book.