I was born without a mother. Well of course I came from a mother, not a test tube, but I came home from the hospital, and she did not. She didn’t die or anything so drastic as that, though. She was having her first schizophrenic episode. She did eventually come home from the hospital after 6 weeks, but continued to go in and out that year and throughout my life.
What happened to her? Her mental condition may have been sparked by postpartum psychosis, which is a more intense form of postpartum depression, and not actually all that rare. Her treatment morphed over time into an unending repertoire of drugs, shock therapy, depression, and eventually cancer. I, in the meantime, back at the ranch, proceeded to grow up without a mother. I was OK with that as far as I can remember. I had a dad, and three siblings. And, well, my mom was there, sort of, on and off until my parents divorced when I was in the third grade. What I mean to say is, she was physically there.
“Mom. Mom. Mom.” I can see her so clearly now, sitting at the dining room table, with the light coming in from the backyard, and she’s looking outside. My second grade little body goes up to her and calls her name. “Mom. Mom. Mom.” (Any mom knows that mom’s name is actually Mom Mom Mom.) And she doesn’t budge. She doesn’t look at me. She just keeps staring outside. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I found out, that when she got like that, it was because she was listening to the voices in her head.
And then there was none. I remember the day I found out they were getting divorced like it was yesterday. I had been to the hardware store the night before and had purchased some balsa wood and marbles. I was going to make a marble run. This was before the days of crafty kits and marble run sets. I was in the living room when the news was broken to me. I ran to my bedroom. I never made a marble run.
The power of brothers and sisters. With the cutting edge family therapy of the time (sarcasm intended), I remember sitting with my siblings and a therapist, each of us being asked, oldest to youngest, who we wanted to live with. Pat said, “my dad.” Cindy said, “my dad.” Pam said, “my dad.” and I was like, uh yeah, duh, my siblings, so I said, “my dad.”
Nothing against my dad, he was and still is a great guy. I’m just saying that my 3rd grade self didn’t take that into consideration. My whole beingness just feared separation from my sibs. And so it was that my mom moved out, and my dad took over.I don’t remember missing her. What does this bring up for you? Please comment