411 Focus

I know I was a challenge for my stepmother. I didn't mean to be ...

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Mother... the longest trip

Mothers didn’t have it very easy delivering babies when I was born. It wasn’t like what we saw on “Gunsmoke” or other westerns popularized on black and white 21” diagonal screens for those with a job “in the city” to present to their parents, the boiling water and towels... Neither was it anything like today.

However, back when and where I lived, a doctor for anything other than high blood pressure was “darn near” never heard of. They gave shots in the gym of the high school “down-town,” and pulled a tooth with an achy hole that threatened to keep a senior from taking the tests required for admission to SIU.

To tell the truth, I never got the story of what my birth was like. My mother was there, and if I remember correctly, the doctor came in time to deliver me. However, I can’t swear that that’s accurate either. See, my parents divorced when I was really young, probably around todd-ler age, and I never learned much about my mother until I was older, and even then, not a whole bunch. I didn’t even know why my father and mother didn’t stay together. Folks didn’t talk about “grown folks’ stuff” with kids. I suspect the 20-year age difference may have played a part.

As I’ve written before, I was raised by my stepmother, five years older than my dad, who had never birthed a child, but raised an“angel,” her first husband’s grandchild, leaving her fully unprepared for me, angry and confused at five years old, having lived for at least two years from one “church lady” to another. Looking back, I guess I was confused, and the matchup, though stabilizing, was more “mis” than “match” most of our years together.

Mother, my stepmother – we distinguished between the two with “first” – was almost fifty when she married my father, so, looking back, having a 6-year-old in those days had to have been a challenge! A mere child, I had, of course, no idea of what “mother and child” was sup-posed to look, feel, or be like. We were an ungodly mess! Baffled, hurt, and angry, I was more of a challenge for her than my brothers, two and four years older! Add to that the fact that they had been with our father all the while, so life wasn’t as tumultuous for them, especially for the middle one. He was a “daddy’s boy, while the eldest, four years older than I, preferred our mother, and took to our stepmother. I was the “wild card.”

I know I was a challenge for my stepmother. I didn’t mean to be, but, separated by what was, in reality, two generations, it was a no-win situation. Life got better as I aged. She taught me how to sew and how to cook, and, I must say, she really tried to be my mother. How-ever, the two-generation gap was just too wide to span, and the fault lay at neither of our feet.

My stepmother and I finally became mother and daughter after I became an adult. There were times when we got close to reaching that point, but we never crossed over… until I became a mother, giving both of them shared space to love freely without restraints, without boundaries… nothing but wide open territory large enough to encompass two hearts brimming with love.

…And isn’t that what mothers want anyway?

Story Posted:05/12/2018

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