Single-Minded: Sending My Mom Love on Father’s Day

No one can be both a ''mother and a father'' to their kids. I'm so glad that my mom knew this.


My mother was crushed when she heard this. Not only because this rumor was, in fact, a truth, though more complicated obviously than a child would make it. But because it was Libby, the girl who taught her about love for women before she learned how to divide. This wasn’t the first time my grandmother had been taken to the ”hospital.” My grandfather wasn’t the nicest man and had driven her mad with a rotating schedule that involved many other women, many other children and many punches.

Those parts of my mother’s childhood I do not envy. But she always remembers them as if they don’t count for much of her now. As if those bad memories–and there are many–weren’t nearly as a heavy as all the other ones. The ones she’d memorized and retold like bedtime stories. To hear her tell it, Frances’ girlhood was something supernatural. Her stories were stuffed with penny candies, backyard circuses, crossed eyes, fear of canned fish and matching Easter dresses. Sometimes I wanted to be her sister, not her daughter. Funny thing is I almost wasn’t. Her daughter, that is.

”They told me to get rid of you,” she whispered to me one afternoon, sitting on the floor in my first real apartment the same day as my ”crying in church” episode. She didn’t look at me. We were trading secrets like Halloween candy. I was being thrust into adulthood, and she wanted me to know some of her growing pains, I guess.

It might make other people uncomfortable to know that they could have been aborted. That they could very well not be alive, conscious, in existence, present or whatever right at this moment–as they think, process and type. Not me. Well, not me, really. I was chosen. Chosen. Didn’t that count for more?

My mother signed off all her letters ”Mom/me.” At the time I thought it reflected her lack of fundamentals in spelling, but now I assume it was her attempt to preserve us. I am her only child, after all, her ”first and last.” No matter how far away from one another we were it would always be Mom/me.

Just the two of us.

Helena Andrews is a regular contributor to The Root and author of Bitch Is The New Black, a memoir in essays.. Follow her on Twitter.

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