Shawn Maxam discusses the figurative death of his mother and what it means for his identity as a man.
I am a flawed human being – a far more flawed human being than you realize.
Have you ever had realizations so jarring that your emotional psyche is forever changed? The landscape of a basic belief you probably held since childhood is destroyed and gone forever. Akin to when you were told Santa Clause doesn’t exist or the Tooth Fairy was just a bullshit story concocted to make the loss of your teeth seem more enjoyable. Less than twenty fours ago I had an adult version of these childhood WTF moments.
My mother died yesterday. Or to say it more accurately my idea of who a mother is and what she does died. The thoughts are still unclear in my mind but every minute the mist is starting to disappear. I think (or I guess thought) of mothers as guardians. Soothsayers. Wiser and older individuals (sorta of like The Oracle in the Matrix Trilogy) who because of lived experience gave you guidance and counsel throughout the duration of your life. My mother is no longer that person to me. I am not sure she ever was. I am a thirty-one year old man, married, childless and embarking on a journey towards two masters degrees. My mom at my age was a complete different being. That isn’t to slight her in any way. Her bravery as an immigrant woman who raised six kids with only a fourth grade education can never be quantified!
Yet through a myriad of circumstances, including my Bipolar Disorder diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I know now I am far more emotionally mature than my mother. Talk therapy has given me a tool-set for self-reflection that my mother still has yet to grasp. To put it plainly my mother still makes dumb choices. It is sad and disappointing but it is the goddamn truth. In a earlier post I wrote about adulthood and emotional maturity I realize now I could have been referring to my mother all along (you can throw in a bunch of other elders in my family as well). Human beings are flawed creatures and are not mothers also human?
This whole post is probably considered blasphemous especially within Black and Caribbean communities. We deify our elders and especially mothers. We should hold mothers in high praise but as with everything nuance should be applied to this assessment. I still deeply love the woman who gave birth to me and raised me. I just don’t know if she is my “mother” anymore.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
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