Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Saga of an Odd Mom

on February 16, 2018

Once upon a time, I was born in Houston, Texas. We lived a Saturday Evening Post – Reader’s Digest sort of existence in a residential area of the city. When I was ten years old my dad decided he wanted to be a farmer and moved us to Greenwood, Mississippi where a friend of my mother’s who had been her Matron of Honor in their wedding lived.

The Mississippi Delta was an eye-opening world for me. It was a William Faulkner – Carson McCullers version of the deep South with a hint of Margaret Mitchell thrown in. My female friends and I pulled in our belts to have a seventeen-inch waist like Scarlett O’Hara. I read Gone With the Wind religiously every three years. People prided themselves on being eccentric and worldly-wise. One of my parents’ friends who lived on a cotton plantation in a neighboring county was the only subscriber of the Wall Street Journal in the entire county. My parents found a place for themselves on the fringes of society. My friends were so unusual I felt the only thing outstanding about me was that I was perfectly ordinary. I also made good grades and was declared the “Most Intellectual Girl” my Senior year in high school.

My college years passed and phased into marriage and family. That was the expected order of things. In college I was an English major, continuing my life-long love of reading. I married my childhood sweetheart – though no fireworks lit up the sky. I gave birth to three sons. Being Mom is the center and soul of my life.

Years passed. My sons began to engage life on their terms. I found space to have my own dreams and allow myself to follow them. God had long been an important part of my being. However, I felt something was lacking in the church I belonged to. I embarked on what I called “my conscious spiritual pilgrimage”. A Pastor at the church told me of a retreat center that offered an amazing new way of bible study. It transformed my life. I decided to study at a theological seminary with the intention of becoming an ordained minister. I thanked the excellent student I once was and upon whose shoulders I now stood. I never doubted I would accomplish my goals. I did. I became Rev.Mom.

I celebrated my fiftieth birthday while I was in seminary. My faculty advisor asked what I wanted to do now that I was fifty. I answered “Become an original”. I wanted to quit living up to what I thought was expected of me. I wanted my “no’s” to mean “no” and my “yes’es”, yes. Several years later, after parting from my childhood sweetheart husband I followed my bliss to Chicago to marry another class mate from Greenwood whom I had run into at our 40th High School reunion.

My second husband and I traveled – a lot. We were in Denver at the Naropa Institute when I heard the poet David Whyte read some lines of his poetry. “Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you.” The “small, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.” The original of me!

Again I moved on from marriage and moved back to Cleveland where I had lived with my first husband. Two of our three sons live here with their families. I did not want to get to the end of my life without living close to my grandchildren. I chose not to end life as a bitter old woman.

Five years ago one of my sons suggested I start a blog. My first theme was the David Whyte quote and a major category was Becoming an Original. I was still on that path. And then a light bulb blazed.

Last Sunday I invited my sons and their families to join me for a local production of Godspell held in my church’s basement and then pizza at my apartment afterwards. In conversation around the table the question of the dates of their dad’s and my birthdays arose. One is on the eighth of February and the other the ninth of December. They had just missed their dad’s because of the confusion. My oldest son Bob said he had a way to remember – his dad’s is the even date 8 because he is sort of square. Mine is the odd date 9 because I am odd. I pondered his meaning for two days and then asked him in what way am I odd. He replied that he knew his mom was odd a long time ago. Other mothers didn’t go to a mountain retreat center that the Appalachian Trail runs through and certainly not to Chicago to attend seminary once a quarter for five years. And then I got it. Odd in his eyes is not a bad thing. There is nothing like your child’s “getting” you. I am on top of the world. It’s like finding the bluebird of happiness in my own backyard. I am even forgiving myself for not being a typical grandmother. As I consider how my sons’ lives unspool I realize that I passed on some of my oddness to them, and even to my grandchildren.

28 responses to “Saga of an Odd Mom

  1. Pastor Kris says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Our stories are parallel in several ways — most especially being in seminary at age 50! And we’re not done yet, are we?!

  2. I love this! Thanks so much for sharing all about you! What an amazing person you are! Wow!!! I feel yes that I am odd in many ways as well and my kids always laugh and so”that is such a mom thing to do” when asked they said you know mom is herself and does her thing! Love this Ina!

  3. Eric Alagan says:

    Thank you for sharing, Ina. And all good wishes for the journey that awaits šŸ™‚

  4. jabrush1213 says:

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. duskalert says:

    You’ve gone through many ups and downs but still you’re strong and an independent woman. I love that. Stay the same.šŸ˜Š

  6. vivachange77 says:

    Thanks for your affirmation and good wishes. ā¤

  7. I feel honored that you shared this with us – odd, perhaps, but wonderful for sure – you have been many ways blessed and I’m very pleased to know you

    • vivachange77 says:

      Heart-felt thanks. One of my blessings is to know you, Paul. I love the way you commented on my post as “odd, perhaps, but wonderful for sure”. I’m learning to affirm my odd original self.

  8. So Viva C., We’ve led country-mouse-city-mouse, deity-vs-non-theist lives, yet I can relate completely and so enjoyed your post! I thought I was oddly-better-than as a young person, oddly-no-as-good as a young woman, and now at 78 I’m part of an ongoing poetry group for over 60’s … and I’m just odd, like everyone else!

    • vivachange77 says:

      I enjoyed your comment. Wonderful conclusion – we are all odd. I just joined a book group whose members say that they are different from their friends. I really fit in! I guess one of the joys of aging is hobbling to our own drum beat.

  9. What a lovely summing up. Your writing is spare and full at the same time. No easy feat. A very nice piece.

    It’s interesting our parallels. At fifty, I entered graduate school; at 52, I entered seminary and was ordained. After staying single for many years after my first marriage, I married Cliff. And my sons, grandson, and now great-grandson are the shining glories of my life. It took me several years to forgive myself for being the mother I was, and yet, they have always forgiven me. Ah, life. What a glory in it we’ve had, Viv.

    • vivachange77 says:

      Thanks for your comment on my writing. It’s good to hear the ways our lives parallel. Rich years and a glory to us, Janet. I also have taken a long time to accept my imperfections as a mother. This post drives home to me that my sons have known me as an odd mom and loved me anyway.

  10. Lovely post, really enjoyed reading it. Always lovely when our children show their understanding and appreciation of us .

  11. I loved reading your story, and I am inspired

  12. hbsuefred says:

    Thanks for offering a larger peak into your life’s story. I hope to someday see the light of understanding in the eyes of my own children. How long do you think that takes, anyway? šŸ¤­

    • vivachange77 says:

      Thanks for your comment. As to how long it takes for our offspring to see and understand, in my case it was unanticipated and came in reply to a question I asked about how my son saw me. Surely your time will come.

  13. Christy B says:

    I enjoyed learning about you so much from this post. Your words, “I chose not to end life as a bitter old woman” are powerful. I’m so glad your son encouraged you to create this blog and share your lovely poems. You’re a friend to me and so many others.

  14. Resa says:

    So, you’ve been an original all along!

  15. JoHanna Massey says:

    A very high compliment indeed. Engaging self disclosure. Thank you.

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