It’s been said that for the most part that gay men have strong bond with their mothers more so that straight men. Well, I guess that I am one of the exceptions to the rule.
First, as an adoptee I always felt that I had to be loyal to my adopted mother, since she was the one that took me in. (At least that what was drilled into my head.) But, I also had a longing for my “other” mother and that was the one that gave birth to me. Not to mention the fact that my maternal grandparents lived with us and my grandma was the one who loved me unconditionally so, in essence I had a 3rd mother. So, over the years, I have had sort of a mixed up definition of mothers and what they entail feuding in my head.
Don’t get me wrong, for the longest time, I loved the mother that raised me even through the verbal abuse, threats, guilt trips and other things that I care not to elaborate at this time, she was still the my mom.
I was told I was adopted when I was 11 and up until then, I believed her to be my “real” mother although I never felt that connectivity that I saw between my friends and their mothers. There was always that distance between us that until then I couldn’t quite understand. Although I was raised in a first generation Italian family, there was never the closeness that one expects. We didn’t hug or show outward affection and the words “I Love You” were only spoken at birthdays, Christmas etc. It was almost as if I was reared in a WASP family, rather than one whose culture was defined by it’s familial love.
She was (and is) the type of mother that no matter how hard you tried, in her eyes at least, you weren’t good enough. “So and so’s son got 5 A’s on the report card how come you only got 4? “, “What do you mean you me you want to be a Funeral Director? ‘B’ is going to med school!”, and on and on it went throughout my life. I never had a good enough job or apartment, big enough house or my kids were spoiled or my wife was to lazy, I was too.. or not enough…. See where I am going with all of this?
When I turned 40, I finally told her that I had been searching for my birth family. I tried to explain that I needed to do this for myself. I needed to have not only a medical history for me and my kids, but I also needed to know where my roots were. Up until this point, my adoption in her eyes was a non-issue. It didn’t exist. Not because she “loved me as if I were her own” but because it was a secret that only family knew about. When I told her that my kids knew since they were little, she hit the roof. “It’s not their business” she yelled and “Why did you have to tell them?” No matter how I tried to explain to her that my adoption was something I was never ashamed of and my search was more about and for me, the more she closed me out.
Then it finally hit me, she never resolved her in-fertility issues and the fact that in her mind she wasn’t a “complete” woman. Back when I was adopted there was no such thing as therapy for infertility and adoption was very hush-hush. No one had to know unless you told them and some women even pretended to be pregnant to carry the masquerade even further. So in light of this, I tried my best to understand where she was coming from but no matter how hard I tried to sooth her fears, she pushed me even further away. When I found my birth family and told her that my birth mother was dead, but I had siblings she didn’t talk to me for 2 months. I had broken all the rules as far as she was concerned, and I could be with them if I want. WTF??? Unlike other adoptee reunions, she didn’t have another mother to “compete” with, which was an issue that I had heard about with other adoptees so what was her problem? I tried for another 5 years of pampering and cajoling her and I very rarely talked about my “new” family lest I upset her all over again even though was were coming together and working out our issues how could I explain her to them.
All my life none of my issues mattered. It was always about her and how she would “explain” things to others. Not to brag, but I almost always made honor roll, paid my own way (even for Catholic High School) since I was 14, bought my own clothes, cars etc, and went to college on 2 scholarships but yet in her eyes it was never enough and still isn’t. The one thing that confounds me to this day is, my grandma (her mother) showed nothing but love. She never demanded or expected anything else but you do your best and loved you no matter what. How in God’s name did she raise a daughter who was so self absorbed, I’ll never know and I am at the point where I don’t have the time or energy to figure out anymore.
So how am I going to “celebrate” Mother’s Day this year? I am not sure, but I do know that this Mother’s Day, I won’t be made to feel guilty or worthless again. I do know that I will give my daughter a card as well as one for my “ex” after all they have redeemed the meaning of Motherhood in my eyes.