Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Mom---The Silent Parent

Today is my mom's birthday. She was born on February 12, 1931. She died on November 20, 1998. She would be 77 years old if she were still alive. I feel sad that she died so young. It will be 10 years since her death on November 20, 2008. Sometimes I remember her birthday, like today. Other years it slips by and then I remember, "Oh yeah, February 12 was Mom's birthday. I totally missed it this year."

Mom was born as the ninth child and baby of the family to a farmer and his wife. I am told that she was the apple of her daddy's eye as most baby girls are. My grandfather was in his 50's when Mom was born and my grandmother was 33 years old when she had her last baby. Mom weighed 12 pounds when she was born. Mom had already lost her oldest sister who was 18 when she died of tuberculosis. Her sister Maggie nursed a couple who had tuberculosis. Maggie caught it and died before my mom was ever born. Mom's two oldest brothers died before Mom was born also. One died of appendicitis and the other somehow as a baby climbed into a fireplace and burned to death. Mom's other three brothers and two sisters were all much older than she was. She was essentially raised as an only child. The sister closest to Mom in age was 10 years old when Mom was born. Mom quit school in the seventh grade when she thought she was going to be failed for missing too much school that year because of a major illness.

I was raised knowing, sensing, that my mother and grandmother loved each other and were angry with each other. I have discussed that in another one of my articles Family Generational Patterns of Behavior found at http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2007/12/family-generational-patterns-of.html . My grandfather died in September of 1953 when I was two years old so I don't remember him. I did have a very special bond with my grandmother. When I was two years old and got the whooping cough, my grandmother took care of me so that my brother who was a baby wouldn't get it too. That is another story.

I have told you all of this to give you some background information about my mother.

The mother that I grew up with was silent and detached from her life, her emotions and her husband and children. When I was three years old, I knew that my mother didn't feel anything. At that time, I remember making the decision to be her protector. She was never mine, other than allowing me to be born.

When I got into Al-Anon, I found out that Mom use passive-aggressive behavior to express quite eloquently how she felt about everything---ANGRY. My dad was the dictator. My mom was the follower who never questioned his decision and never made any decisions on her own. When we asked her a question, it was always, "Go ask your dad." or "I'll have to ask your dad." She was not allowed to work outside of the home, outside of Dad's influence, except for two weeks that she worked in a sandwich factory when I was seven years old. That may have been to help pay for a week in the hospital when my dad got sick. She wasn't allowed to get another job until I was a Senior in high school. My brother and sister and I were never allowed to work either until we each left home.

No one really knew my mom. She didn't have any friends that weren't my dad's friends. Our family lived totally under my dad's control. As my title says, mom was the silent parent. I loved my mom and I always told myself that she loved me. It was so important that I hold on to that belief. I needed to feel that one of my parents loved me. I didn't believe that my dad did since he molested me. I kept silent myself for a lot of years because I didn't want to hurt my mom. Rmember, I had been her self-appointed protector since the age of three. By the time that I was 11 and the incest started, it was an ingrained habit for me. Protect my mom at all costs. I always put her feelings above mine.

I continued to protect my mom, even as an adult. My mom ended their marriage when she found out about my dad's girlfriend. They were divorced when I was 32 years old. I talked with my husband and he agreed that I could bring Mom to live with us. I took my protecting her to the next level. I told myself that finally she would love me if I told care of her by bringing her into my home. I was truly co-dependent. I learned that in Al-Anon too. She lived with us for 14 years.

Four years before Mom died, I was healthy enough in recovery to bless her and let her go. She moved in with my sister and lived with her for four years. A few months before her death, Mom finally got a place of her own. She loved it. I did my mom and myself both a disservice by telling her she was going to live with us. Desperation does that to a person. I was so desperate for my mother's love that I would settle for whatever I could get. I have actually said that I would settle for her physical presence if I couldn't have her love.

I have worked to forgive my mom and myself for the parts that each of us played in my life.
Here is a poem that my friend Sherryl gave me when Mom died in 1998. I will end this article with it. It states the way that I always wanted my relationship with my mom to be. The reality is that it never was. Today, I am ok with that.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

(I don't know the source that originally wrote this poem. Thank you to whoever you are.)

Remembering Mama

In the evening, by the twilight
Alone in your old rocking chair
I remember Mama
And the silver in her hair.

I remember all the stories
She used to tell me,
When I was but a little girl
Sitting on her knee.

I remember Mama
When I'd have bad dreams at night.
How she kissed away night tears and fears,
She took away my fright.

But now she's gone to be with Jesus,
In the city streets paved of gold.
The old home place seems empty,
So rustic and cold.

But I know wherever Mama's at,
She's happy as can be.
I remember Mama.
And she'll remember me.

In Memory of Cordelia Caldwell, 1931 - 1998
I love you, Mom.


jumpinginpuddles said...

parents are complicated and its hard when they have such a complicated life themselves, the way you wrote gave us such an insight into you and your mum we felt like we had just shared soem of the journey with you and her, you are a great writer. Thankyou for what you shared

Patricia Singleton said...

JumpingInPuddles,Thank you so much for your comment. When I started writing, I had no clue as to what I was going to say. Once I started, the words just flowed and I let them. Sometimes that is the best way to go, just letting the words write themselves.

Anonymous said...


I've mentioned to you before that I do believe we plan ahead of time exactly who our parents will be and the life lessons learned from that choice.

One day you will have the answers all before you.

I am glad you were able to 'bless her' in this lifetime, it must have contributed to your spiritual growth.

xo xo

Anonymous said...

A very touching post, Patricia. I'm sure your mom is so proud of you!

Patricia Singleton said...

Thank you, Slade. I know she is.

Patricia Singleton said...

Deb, I agree with you about picking our parents before we were born. My friend Carol taught me that. I resisted that idea for a long time before I finally accepted it. I also believe that we choose the lessons that we will learn also. I know that is what the incest is all about---lessons. I have said it before, my parents were my best teachers. Today I can bless both of them and tell them thank you for the lessons that they helped me learn.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful tribute to your mother who did the best she could with what she had.

Now, you are your own mother. And you are finally loving yourself.

And we are all loving you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Corinne,Thank you. Your articles are enriching my life too.

Your comment about my mom doing the best that she could used to infuriate me when people would tell me that. It seemed to negate everything that I was feeling at the time. Then someone said she was doing the best she could with the tools that she had. I didn't feel any different.

Then a very wise friend who was also my counselor at the time said, "Your parents did the best they could with what they had and it wasn't good enough." Bingo! That helped me to be ok with the comment. I wasn't looking to blame them. Some behavior isn't good enough. Some behaviors, like incest, just aren't acceptable and no apology is going to make it ok. That is what the first and second comment were saying to me. Incest is never ok or acceptable.

I love both of my parents. I always have, even when I was so rageful and hurting and hating my dad. I have since learned to love the person and hate their actions. Al-Anon taught me that. Have a glorious day and comment any time.

Michael Howard said...

One thing I love about reading your writings Patricia is your depth and honesty. Thank you for this glimpse into your world concerning your relationship with your mother!

Anonymous said...


What a revealing story about your Mom, the silent partner. I was able to imagine what it was like just by reading of your experiences.

I hope you don't regret having her live with you even though deep down you think she was denied an opportunity to live on her own. Everything happened for a reason and it was a perfect reason - whatever it was. That's how I see it.

I agree with the comments above that your Mom would be damn proud of you!

Anonymous said...


When i first started reading it, I thought: 'I should offer her some Reiki healing.' Then I read on and realized: 'wow'. Birthdays of 'pain' and 'disappointment' can be as hurtful as the moment when they first occured. I am proud of you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Astrid, thank you. I have taken Level 1 & 2 Reiki classes myself. I regularly use it on myself and others who ask. I appreciate your thought of offering it. Thank you. I am proud of myself when I look back and see all of the work that I have done.

Patricia Singleton said...

Stephen, I don't regret a day that my mom lived with us. I know it was an experience that we all created for our mutual benefit. My daughter who also subscribes and read my articles, emailed me earlier and said that she was glad that her grandma lived with us all those years. Christie has always felt close to my mother since she lived with us until Christie was in high school. We all learned from the experience.

Patricia Singleton said...

Michael, thank you. This article just kind of felt like it was writing itself. When I sat down to write it, I had no idea what I was going to said or in what direction I was going with it. I appreciate your words.

Marj aka Thriver said...

I can relate to so much of this. Thank you for sharing.

Just wanted to let you know that I got the Feb. edition of THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE up at my blog. Thanks for participating. Won't you stop by?

Patricia Singleton said...

Marj, thanks for your comment. I will definitely check out the Carnival.

Anonymous said...


I think when reading your post it would be impossible not to make a connection with one's own mother or her memory. That was certainly my experience. And a valuable one at that.

Once again I say thank you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Barbara, you are welcome. In some ways, maybe because I am a woman, I understand my mom and in some ways it was more difficult to understand her because I am a mother. I would never be so shut down that I couldn't see the pain of my children.

Chris said...

Hi Patricia,

I am torn as to what to say. Part of my wants to console you, while the other part wants to applaud you. Neither one is completely appropriate, so I'll just empathize with you.

You have my respect. You are a strong person.


Patricia Singleton said...

Chris, thank you for your kind words. Whatever you feel is appropriate. Thanks for the empathy. As I said on your site, your little girls are blessed to have a special dad.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Reading this again, I still cried. It is amazing how much we can grieve for something we never had. I'm so glad you were able to bless your mother and let her go. That's huge. Thanks, again, for letting us use this for the blog carnival. It's a great contribution.

Patricia Singleton said...

Marj, I was glad to be able to send it to this month's Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Thanks.

me as i am said...

thank you for sharing this post at the carnival, patricia. birthdays of our parents can be tough times, but also meaningful opportunities to reflect on our journeys with them and after them. i could relate to many of your feelings about being the protector of your mother, and your anger at never having had the parent you deeply wanted (and deserved) - though that in my case was my father. i think it's wonderful you were able to heal and grow so much in your life with respect to your mother and your relationship with her. to be able to see her as a human being. and i'm so glad for you that you reached a place in your life before she died that you were able to let her go.

your writing continues to be a source of inspiration to me and each post offers me ways to connect to my deeper self. thank you~

Patricia Singleton said...

Katie, you are welcome and thank you for sharing your thoughts about my writing. Sharing my journey with others through this blog is what helps me to make sense of it all.

Anonymous said...

Relationships with parents can be so complicated. I know mine were. I really appreciated your insights into your mother and into your relationship with her. It is nice to see how you were able to grow and change your relationship with her.

Patricia Singleton said...

Anonymous, thank you. I agree that relationships with our parents can be very complicated.

Onesurvivor said...

Hi, Patricia, wow...what growth. How awesome to see the flow of things and how you were able to figure out what was happening between your mom and you. So many people never really get it. You did get it...and you made positive changes as a result. Way to go!

Patricia Singleton said...

OneSurvivor, thank you. It took years but yes, I finally did get it many years after a friend of mine told me that I needed to divorce my mom. He meant that I needed to cut the ties and separate myself from her.