“I wish you could be my mom.” I said as I sat on June’s lap.
June (not her real name), was my favorite visitor when the neighbor ladies would gather for coffee clutching, as they called this social time. Most women stayed home and didn’t work outside of the home then. These mom’s would take turns being hostess each week.
My own mother was at the kitchen sink tending to some dishes. I was only three years old. My siblings were at school. Three other women sat at mom’s table with their coffee and their jaws dropped at my announcement.
Mom just looked my way and shrugged the statement off. I remember looking at her after I said it. I sensed even at that young age, I said something that might upset her. It should have. I think deep within me I was hoping this got her attention and she would encourage me and reassure me that I was dearly loved by her.
As soon as June took her seat at the table she invited me to sit on her lap. I was always standing near her when she came. I crawled up and we exchanged smiles and she took my hand and stroked my hair. She had two children of her own by now but all in school. A boy and the eldest a girl. June was always laughing or smiling.
I remember her nails, a pretty shade of red. Long and neatly shaped. I would run my tiny fingers across the nails. I enjoyed the comfort and ease I felt in her lap. I felt I belonged there. There was nothing cold or tense about June.
She would run her hands through my hair and sometimes wrap a clump of strands between her fingers. It relaxed me and I would start to doze off. I was never stroked like that or held so lovingly that I could recall, from my own mother. I looked up at June, and this day I desperately blurted out, as young children sometimes do….my wish. “I wish you could be my mom.” I was just three. Innocent of the crime I felt, in my own young conscience mind.
How does a three year old girl choose her own mother? They don’t, they can’t….but that day, in my mind, I adopted June. I am not sure what mom thought of my statement. She never held me tight to reassure me that she loved me. I am sure she did. She just didn’t know how to give me what I needed for some reason.
I have had to read many self-help books to try and figure this all out and other things going on in our family dynamics. I know that more than once I had lashed out at mom in frustration. She had her favorites and we all knew who they were in the family. I was not one of them.
Mom was good to us all in providing what we needed physically. She was lacking in the emotional support, at least towards me. Her favorites got all her attention. She would even sit at the table and enjoy a cup of coffee with a favorite child when they were older. It was always obvious, crystal clear.
Thankfully, from my own analytical studies, via my books I was reading on psychology and conversations that would come out about mom’s history and our family, I learned a few things.
Mom had a dark past, so I was able to give her some grace. She just never got the help she needed with her own baggage. Eventually, she got some help. It was a little late for us kids since we were all adults and raising our own children, but at least it was a start and she seemed happier too.
I remember when I was little tyke but not in school yet, she would suggest I go visit June. She was just across our property, the next house on the same side of the street. Just a few yards so I couldn’t get hurt or lost finding her.
I think I was craving something from mom only June could give me. Maybe mom knew it or was resentful or just annoyed with me.
I will never know but it must have been a challenge for mom to deeply love a whiny and emotionally needy child. I was always glad at the suggestion to go visit June.
I would run to June’s house and watch her peel carrots. She would let me eat the trimmings and would laugh because I liked them. Then she would invite me to sit at her table and give me a cookie. We would talk about things unremembered. I always felt love and affection with June. She was God’s gift to me as a little girl because God knew I needed that in my life.
Eventually, I would just ask to go, on my own without her probing. I didn’t feel like she was trying to be rid of me or feel rejected by her. In a way, I guess I might have been.
I am too stupid to play the victim. It must be a defense mechanism built in me, I guess. I will never be a victim to anything. It must be the fight in me. I keep getting stronger the more I am crushed. I don’t engage though, or try to start an argument….that is the flight mechanism in me. I will run if things get too heated, or walk out of a situation. Easy!
Mom was a good mother, just missing some of the affectionate side a mother can give. We had good meals, warm beds, clean clothes and regular bath times. Dad came in each night to read us stories. Mom never did. No snuggling with mom, or singing or humming us to sleep. No tickling and giggling with her. All seriousness and routine and schedules.
I do remember when she would tie up our hair in rags to make ringlets in our hair. After many years later, she grew tired of it and had us all get pixies. This was my least favorite haircut and I remember being so embarrassed to go to school the next day.
Now both mom and June are long past. The were best friends and died within months of each other. Mom gave up her battle with cancer and ended treatments once she heard June had died. Dad was already gone. I have had other mothers take their places in my life.
We only have one mother that is biologically connected to us. But if they are not connected emotionally to us, God will find a mother to fill the void. God loves me so much and always provides what I need. What was missing in my life as a little girl, he supplied for me in abundance, not just at age 3, but all through my life wnen I needed to feel the warmth and love of a mother.
Now, with children of my own now grown and grandchildren in my life, I have enjoyed spending time with each of them on my lap. If they never had to find a June to replace what they needed from me, I hope that I will have done a good job. I know there is always a hole in each of our hearts that only God can fill. But I hope still, that I have given each of my children and grandchildren, the love they needed from me, that only I could give them.