If It’s Not One Thing… It’s Your Mother

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We think our life is someone else’s fault. As victims of circumstance, blown by fate and buffeted by winds, we need somebody to pin it on. Our father often takes the heat, but usually it’s our mother. We also blame the schools, the government, and the past. If it has anything to do with missing homework, we blame the dog. If we’re dyslexic, we blame God—unless of course you were raised in a happy-clappy church. I wasn’t. I was raised Roman Catholic, the religion of rules and reservations, especially about sex.

Cathy Clemens 1949, Sonora

Cathy Clemens, 1949

Once we find someone to take the fall, we squander our life living in if only. We waste our energy wandering along the yellow brick road and wailing: the sky is falling, the sky is falling! Bonding with doom and gloom, grist and gossip, bad news, bad skin, and bad hair, we become skeptical and cynical, residing in complacency and complaint. It started when we were small children and became separated from the soul with which we were born, when our spirit was quashed. Oh to be able to reconnect with that sweet soul we left behind; if we could, perhaps the world, our small piece of it anyway, would make more sense. We could be ourselves again.

It only takes a slight course adjustment to reach a different destination, and I’m two-stepping on a repaved path. I can’t change my history, genetic blueprint, or my family, but I can change how I choose to live my life. So I practice breathing, and living inside my body. I practice gratitude and generosity. I practice patience. The rest of the time I just try not to holler at everyone.

Catherine Sevenau, 2013

Catherine (Clemens) Sevenau, 2013

In the journeys of my life—from wondering how I got here to knowing where I am, from falling down the rabbit hole to dancing with the stars, from having my mother show up in my stomach, bones, and dreams to writing a book about her so as to meet her, and meeting myself instead—I find I’m not about the pearl, but about the sand that made me. Mine was not the childhood I wished for, but who am I to question grace?

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  1. Susan Dalberg says:

    Each of your writings just makes me love you more! Thank you for sharing you!!!

  2. Jeff Elliot says:

    Beautiful, graceful writing, striking a bit too close to home for my comfort. Although I somehow avoided the blaming part, I still feel estranged from my true soul and spirit, and the seeking seems more important as the years pass. So we find what ways we can to keep on keepin’ on.

  3. We have known each other for centuries. But blindfolded I would not have known who you were from your voice. Dear Catherine, it was a pleasure to hear your voice together with your beautiful words so elegantly spoken. Long we may remain beautiful friends. Colin

  4. Susan Price-Jang says:

    Good one, Cathy. I admit to being wary around my mom – she is 90 and still going strong. It has been a long, complicated relationship. I wish there had been more nurturing and less criticism, but I guess, this was not uncommon in our early days. I am just lucky to have had my mom around and still around.

  5. Mary Munford says:

    Beautifully written and deeply thought. Thank you.

  6. You are the pearl, product of the dirt and ocean waters that created your luminous self!

  7. Really, really important message that a number of different people are speaking, but none more eloquently than you.

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