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Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Dimensions of my Lost Mother

By Joy Lieberthal Rho, LCSW

When I think of mother, I think of a blonde with German and Irish roots, the bluest of eyes and fairest of skin. Humor, wit, unpredictable, punitive, sacrifice, guilt, kindness, cold, more guilt, insensitive, anxiety and fear come to mind all at once. One “oh hi J..” and I know exactly what direction the phone call will go. This mother is real, three-dimensional and known with a wide range of feelings that erupt inside when I think of her. This mother is not the woman who gave birth to me, lived with me for the first three years of my life, nursed me for months, slept next to me. She is not the woman whose scent I chased for decades. Even so, I didn’t grow up wanting that woman. “Mom” was a word I still could say out loud, I wasn’t without.

I was lost to my birthmother, my Umma, for over 21 years. In the losing of her, I lost my memory of her. Her face was even transposed with another family member in my mind’s eye; the one teary eyed snapshot of waving goodbye from a car window. She didn’t exist in my every day consciousness.