Exploring the poetry of everyday life

Saga of an Odd Mom

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.