this is a letter i wrote to my mom. she's a single mother of three and has had to work hard since the day (actually, more like 9months before) i was born. ever since i was in high school, she has been trying to find a man...she wants a companion more than anything (i'm not trying to make her sound desperate, so please don't take it that way)...but she's getting older and doesn't want to spend her life alone when all her kids graduate. also, the simple fact of the matter remains that her life would be, economically, better. plain and simple... some of you might be able to relate...others won't. take it for what it is...but i just wanted to post it b/c it's the most honest thing i've written lately (by that i mean, it's the most truthful thing that i have written from my heart in a long time).oh, and there's a section in it where i talk about men in general...and by men, i mean patriarchal culture...not all men...so don't get your undies in a bunch.
i can't sleep, so i thought i'd write you an email. i've been thinking about you a lot lately and hoping that you are doing well. and i also want you to know that i've thought a lot about life and our relationship in general...and i think i'm finally at a point where i can say that i understand a little better about some of the decisions you've made that have made me really angry and hurt...and i'm not hurt or angry anymore.
i know that i was really a rotten little shit at times and for that i'm really sorry. i really gave you a hard time and made things really difficult. and you could have reacted much worse...but you didn't. you were always really patient with me and never tried to intentionally hurt me or limit me.and lately, i think i've come to understand as to why i get so upset about the thought of you dating...so here are my thoughts.
i think the main reason why it frustrates me is because we live in a patriarchy...no matter how long the women's movement has been going on, we're still having to struggle with it...the only problem is that it's become more institutionalized, thus making it harder to point out and attack. where exactly is this going? well, i just want the best for you. i always have and i will continue to do so...and the thought of all your problems being solved by some man just plain disgusts me. not because i don't think anyone will be good enough, or that i don't want you to be happy (b/c i do think there is someone out there for you and i do want you to be happy)...but b/c it's true that all your problems could be solved if you found some rich man who just wanted to take care of you and sweep you off your feet.
the thing of it is, i'm really convinced that you are a victim/survivor of sexism/patriarchy. what i mean by this is, i think that the problems that you have had to continually struggle against have been mostly due to a system that has been set in place to hold you back - to make it harder for you to make it on your own. if you were a single, childless woman, things would be different. however, b/c you're a single mother of three children, the chances of you being able to make ends meet, and then some, become next to impossible. in a country where we are supposed to believe in and reach for the 'american dream,' how and the hell is this supposed to happen if you have to work just as hard as any single man (or a man with a childthat he doesn't take responsibility for) just to get enough money to pay the bills, have food on the table and a roof over your head?
now, i know you know all of this...and i know that i know all of this...and that the two of us have known all of this for quite some time...but, a giant lightbulb has just gone off in my head...and it has caused me to take another look at you, and our relationship, and our lives...and why i react so poorly when you try to tell me about a possible relationship.
finally, i just wish that you didn't have to rely on a man. i wish that we lived in a world where you could 'pick yourself up by the bootstraps'...i think that, until now, i saw reliance on men as a sign of weakness and i didn't want to think of you that way. but now, i don't think that...now, i think that it just plain stinks that things are the way they are and it's going to take a lot longer than 100 years of the women's movement to see the world i want.
however, i know you're looking for an escape...truth be told, me too. i think about it all the time...i think about what i could do that would help you out...but i don't know what i could do at this point in my life...all i know is that i want to.so, as i lay thinking in my bed this evening, trying to fall asleep (i had two cups of really strong coffee this morning, not a good idea)...i had some thoughts that i wanted to share with you.i think i would really like to say this to our entire family and i hope that if the opportunity arises, i will have the courage to say it:
i think that if we could all spend a little less time judging each other and more time trying to understand each other by putting ourselves in each other's shoes, then maybe we could help each other out a little more...i think if we could do this, then maybe we wouldn't feel so forced to try to find comfort, safety, security,acceptance, etc. in other places/things...instead, we would know that we could find them in each other...like we're supposed to be doing.
however, that has been made virtually impossible b/c of these barriers of fear that we have surrounded ourselves by....whether that fear be of rejection or fear of things that are different, or fear of things we don't have the patience or willingness to understand, it's stillthere and it's getting in the way of making the best out of our lives...family and friends are what is most important. but the more we push them away, the unhappier we will all be. if we can't rely on them, then who can we rely on? this, i think, is the main downfall of american society. the fact that we don't allow ourselves to feel or that our families or friends aren't approachable...we're so individualistic that we've lost sight of how important community is.
that is what i would say.
also, i know that a big reason you are unhappy is because of your own relationship with your mother. this makes me really angry and sad. i am angry that grandma is so stubborn that she can't see how much she hurts you and everyone else in her life. i am really sad b/c too many relationships have been damaged and seem irreparable. it also makes me really sad for her. i think i am more sad for her than i am angry. she is really missing out on so many opportunities to have happinessin her life b/c she focuses on the negative. instead of turning to her family and friends to find support and strength, she rejects them and isolates them.
i am very proud of you for not taking this personality trait for your own. i know that i was a lot like grandma in high school...and all i can say is i'm glad i nipped that one in the bud.we always say that we never want to end up like our mothers...and truth be told, it's true. i don't want to have to struggle like you have...but i know that if i have to, i can do it...b/c you're doing it right now, and you have shown me that it is possible to make it out alive. but, what you rarely hear these days are good things about our mothers...things that we are proud of. and i am very proud that you are such a caring, loving, understanding, strong, and giving person. i am more proud to say that these characteristics are things that i have learned from you, and i believe they are very admirable and good.so thank you.
i love you a lot and i miss you so much. i think about you all the time, even when i don't call you to tell you. you're not a bad mother at all. if you ever thought so, or had the impression that i thought so...well, it's just not true.
i don't know if you have ever felt that way, but just in case, you're wrong.
another downfall of american society is it's downplay of the importance of motherhood. it's the most difficult job in the world...and to be very honest, i think that's what's got men all uptight...they can never give birth or bring forth life in the manner that a woman can...and that is real power...and they are scaredshitless of it.