One of my children, (I will refrain from using names or ages to protect the innocent) has a recurring dream about Hitler. Yes, Hitler. We have tried to pinpoint what led to this dreamland interference… but, nothing stands out — no books, no documentaries, no school discussions. I know if some dream therapist is consulted as to what this dream means, he will say that Hitler represents me, the mother — it’s always the mother’s fault.
The list of things that we blame on our mother’s is endless: my clothes are too small, my clothes are too big, my hair is curly, my hair is flat, I missed the bus, I don’t like dinner — endless.
But, we somehow manage to carry on.
I’ve decided this must be due to the thing known as unconditional love. We know that our children can blame everything that goes wrong on us and we will still love them, we will still come back to them, we will still allow them to blame us. Of course, until I was a mother myself I was on the other end of the blame.
In the 1950’s, autism was blamed on mother’s. I found this explanation in Wikipedia (What? You know you use Wikipedia too.):
The term refrigerator mother was coined around 1950 as a label for mothers of children diagnosed with autism or schizophrenia. These mothers were often blamed for their children’s atypical behavior, which included rigid rituals, speech difficulty, and self-isolation.
The “refrigerator mother” label was based on the assumption — now discredited among most, though not all, mental health professionals — that autistic behaviors stem from the emotional frigidity of the children’s mothers. As a result, many mothers of children on the autistic spectrum suffered from blame, guilt, and self-doubt from the 1950s throughout the 1970s and beyond: when the prevailing medical belief that autism resulted from inadequate parenting was widely assumed to be correct.
Can you imagine, a disorder as wide spread as autism blamed on mothers? As a mother, we really have some ground to make up. Or do we? Maybe this is our time to re-claim a guilt-free existence. To stop accepting the blame for all the world’s ill-fated ventures. To let the chips fall where they may. (Yes, I know — not going to happen.)
Today alone, I will be given and accept the blame for: my oldest daughter’s room being painted a color she no longer wants (yes, she picked out the current color just last year), my son’s unfinished book report due tomorrow (yes, he received the assignment two weeks ago), and my youngest daughter’s favorite pink Dora popsicles are all gone (ok, I do have to take responsibility for that one).
When my mother first became ill and moved in with us, she was in a wheelchair. If she needed to get up at night, she would call and I would come. This night, when she called out for me, I was completely in the state of disorient that can only be described as that lack of sleep when you first bring home a newborn and everything sounds like an echo. I raced down the stairs still in my semiconscious state and missed the last two steps. I slid down hard on my bum — it hurt. My mother immediately apologized saying it was her fault for needing my help. I laughed. She laughed. Why is it so easy for us to accept the blame?
I can still try to blame things on my mother. It’s her fault that the laundry I folded for her some nine months ago is still on the dryer, with no one to wear it. It’s her fault that her purse with all its contents is lying in the bottom of her closet with nowhere to go. It’s her fault I stare daily at that half empty bottle of perfume because I can not bring myself to toss it out.
At some point, I’m sure we all become adults and accept responsibility for our own mistakes, for our own short-comings, for our own happiness. To blame is easy, to accept is not. But, to move on is the key.
As the mother, I know I’ll be given the blame — as the mother, I know I’ll accept the blame. So, I’ll pick up paint chips for the bedroom, I’ll edit the book report, and I’ll go to the store for pink Dora popsicles. And, when Hitler makes his way back into dreamland, I will be waiting to chase him away. When it’s all done… I’ll get the hugs and the kisses and the love. Which is really what matters the most.