My Number One Surprise this past year? Coming to terms with my mother’s role in my life. For years I’ve harbored cold resentment toward her. Much more than I have toward my father. Yet in this first year of blogging, I’ve done an about-face.
Here’s a dream I had about her in August 2012. In the dream Mom is an attractive, even endearing figure. Where did this come from? I’m still not sure, but here it is, followed by some of my reflections.
17 August 2012
I’m in a rink-like area with other women. A woman in the rink is telling us about the new surface that’s just been completed. It’s so smooth that no ice or roller skates are required. Just regular flat shoes. Several women are trying it out.
I’ve just arrived, and know my mother is nearby. I call out for her to come and see. The minute she hears how it works she gets in the rink and takes off in a graceful glide around the far end of the rink. She does a beautiful leap, turn, and ballet-like move, lands smoothly, and keeps going.
She’s smiling, happy and totally healed in her body. Her hair is cut short. It’s dark auburn, wavy, and lovely. She’s wearing a skating/ballet-like outfit with a short full skirt that floats into the air as she leaps and comes back down. She looks youthful and mature—perhaps in her late 20s or early 30s. She’s beautiful and obviously accomplished. I feel proud that she’s out there doing her thing.
Is this Mom?
When I wake up from the dream I feel surprised, happy and sad all at the same time. I recall a fragment of another dream I had several days earlier. I’m in a room. I don’t know where. I’m standing behind a woman seated in a chair. Her back is toward me, and she’s leaning over something she is creating—a work of art? I’m not sure.
My attention goes to her beautiful hair—just like the hair I see on my mother in the skating rink dream. However, in this earlier dream I don’t recognize the woman right away as my mother. I know I’ve seen hair like that before, and when I look at the sliver of profile on the right side of her face, I’m surprised and delighted to see this is my mother. She seems totally at ease with herself and focused on what she’s doing, even though others are in the room.
I don’t recall many pre-polio dreams about Mom or about her looking this young, content, rested, and energetic. When she married my father, she seemed to accept the world she entered. Yet my writing project highlights not simply how damaging that world was to me, but how damaging it was to her. Yes, she was my father’s collaborator.
If, however, I put her role in the context of human trafficking, she becomes a victim collaborator—like other women victims who earn the trust of their male ‘owners.’ It seems they survive by denying human bonds of affection or compassion for the victims over whom they are given limited power.
In Our Backyard by Nita Belles includes a chilling story that suggests this. A daughter and then her mother get lured into human trafficking via a modeling agency. The mother eventually becomes trusted enough to pave the way for new recruits, and is allowed limited ‘freedom’ to carry out tasks on behalf of her traffickers. One day, this mother sees an opportunity to escape, and takes her daughter along.
It seems only a mother would remain connected enough by human bonds to even dare this—risking her own freedom and life by bringing her daughter along. Ironically, however, this tiny crack in their prison was made possible by first demonstrating she could and would treat her daughter no differently than she treated all the other young women.
Though my mother collaborated with my father, she retained her capacity to relate to me, especially after I was married. I’ve often regretted that she died before my father. Perhaps a bit of my stumbling courage when I confronted my father openly in 1993 gave her permission to own her own humanity and womanhood.
A New Year’s toast to Mom: My Number One Creative Ally!
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 December 2014