Yesterday March 19th was my mother's 89th birthday and I was not there with her to celebrate it. I live in California and she in Massachusetts and I can no longer fly home whenever I feel like it due both to financial and physical limitations. Every year that she gets older so in fact do I, and now I am too old to wish myself into a new life like I have so many times in the past. Now I am pretty much stuck with both the body, mind and life I have created.
So here on the first day of Spring in 2010, I get to size myself up and ask if it has been worth it so far....after all I have no children, the mark in an Italian family of value and worth as a woman. I forfeited that reality for both emotional and physical reasons and because as they say "it was not in the cards". Actually looking back now the choices I made were all pretty much made when I was about 8 years old.
The blog below this one pretty much explains it all: I rejected 100% the path my mother had laid out for me. At least the surface path. Because I think underneath that surface path, the roles decent women should take, which in her opinion were clear in the 1950's and 1960's, she watched and waited and, dare I say, hoped for my rebellion. I think I was her under the surface path where she had so long wanted to walk but could not because of fear and the oppressive nature of being a woman back then and of course, my father, the eternal chauvinist.
I never received much encouragement to be who I wanted to be. I risked the ire and rejection of my mother and my older sister if I did and yet here I am today: a filmmaker, an actor, a writer, a college professor, owner of a beautiful home, with great and remarkable friends, foster mother to children in Bolivia and Cambodia, and embarking on what is most likely my most intimate and longest relationship to date with a man I have known for 25 years.....all signs of health and growth and commitment.
I wonder about the other women in my family from later generations, nieces most especially. I have 4 nieces, 3 of them who ended up having children and one who seems lonely and a little lost although she still has time to find herself. I wonder how strong their mother's voices were in their heads and if they had the courage to stand up to that figure and speak the truth: To say with deep conviction: I am not you, mother. I am independent of you, both emotionally, financially, spiritually and every other way and this is my life, not yours. Of course, maybe you do not need to say that unless she refuses to let you go. Then I suppose a dramatic scene is called for if only to act as a breaking off climactic moment. But doing it in your own mind and heart is pretty much the only way you ever do claim your own life and "grow up", isn't it?
It is the first day of spring. I am truly blessed to have this life, to own this life I have created out of dreams and whispers. It's also the first day of the rest of YOUR lives, nieces. As an act of faith in yourselves, you might choose one thing you are afraid to do...write that children's story, draw that picture, make that movie, dance that dance...you only have so many springs and yours are winding down...so get to it...don't waste another moment...find the time, make the time. Reclaim yourselves.
When mom is gone either metaphorically or for real, make sure you are able to locate that under the surface path because, truthfully, it's the one she really wants you to walk anyway, despite her fears and protests. Trust me, I know.
Today is the first day.......