Small Town Mother’s Daughter
By Robyn Lawson
by Blog Woman!!! (robynlawson111.com)
Once in a while, my mother plays for me an old country song called, “Idol of the Band.” One of the chorus lines says, “You may just be some small town mother’s daughter, but today, for just a moment, you were the idol of the whole damn band.”
We always have a little laugh with it, but within the mirth is a little wistfulness too. I think that song reminds my mother of a funny moment or two from the bad old days. I share those feelings, but I also feel traces of poignancy that can’t quite be defined. They are flashes of the heartstrings that join us more by fate than by our blood.
I’d heard forever that I am my mother’s daughter. I look a lot like her, and I put her temperament on display now and then, but that was the absolute limit to the comparisons that I was determined to live out. I loved her, but I had every reason not to repeat every aspect of her life.
My mother was that young small town girl who did not dream of escape to the bright lights of the big city. Maybe she’d become a nurse, maybe even a nun, but in the end she longed only for a simple life of family, and hearth and home in the same little town. As it always is, it was about a boy.
Her dreams were devastatingly reshaped when step one of her plan led her into the arms of that handsome young man who soon became an abuser who drank too much. Step two in the unintended reality was giving life to me, then pulling me along on the path to their hell.
By the time she left him, I’d already learned a lifetime of what not to be. There was no doubt that meant being everything my parents weren’t. What I had no way of knowing then was how deeply the sins of the father and mother had already been woven into the fabric of my future.
Like my mother, I was mostly raised in small towns, but I grew up craving the promise of anything but simplicity. I was going to be one of those bright lights in the city. I intended to be the people I saw on TV or read about in books about success. I used the same success examples my mother did, but unlike her novels of romance, I was not going to depend on a man, or have babies anytime soon.
I was desperately eager to be in that new life. Desperation was probably mistaken for boldness and so, at almost sixteen I went off in search of those bright lights. I hugged my mother goodbye. She armed me with a little money, those lessons well learned, and a crock pot.
The years to follow were harder than I could ever have imagined. I began them by piling on loads of makeup and lying about my age to be able to work long days akin to slave labor. When the realization grew that I could be stuck there forever, I added night school to the schedule. It took years, but eventually I got my business titles.
I succeeded at school, I succeeded in work, and I succeeded in social status. I was nothing like my mother’s life. Not until I was. Not until I realized that there was just one thing missing for me, and I would wholly embrace the answer to that, and it would gut everything I’d worked for, including part of the spirit that had carried me away from small town nightmares.
I fell madly in love. He said that I was the smartest, most beautiful woman he’d ever known. He asked, “What can I do to make your life happier”? He said, “I promise, I will take care of you”.
He eased the deep thread of emptiness so common in the fabrics of my kind of past. It was really an unraveling, but I’d grown used to pretending that strand of vulnerability didn’t exist anyway. That was a necessary evil to confirm how much more ahead of my mother I was. So, I ignored the red flags that waved and I said, yes. Just like my mother did.
He swept me off my feet and back into hell.
It was another two and a half years before I was able climb out. By then almost all of my relationships with friends and family had deteriorated, along with all the other areas of my life. The only miracle within the madness was that I didn’t have any children with him. Not that we didn’t try.
Time moves every story along, and it became my friend this round. My bright future lay tarnished on the ground, but I was finished with the idea of gleam anyway. The only choice I could face was to go back to the beginning. A revisit to that place that gives you the so-called strengths you depend on to survive, but really are old scars that need to be opened in order to be properly closed. I survived that too.
I reworked how I defined success and my revised ideals created the roads to more meaningful ways. I learned to accept that healing is never really over, but the lessons begin to bloom more in joy than the scrapes of sorrow. I worked my way to a life that is different, quieter, but true; to one that matters. Just like my mother did.
And now and then, we smile together as we sing those words, “You may just be some small town mother’s daughter, but today, for just a moment, you were the idol of the whole damn band.”
Nicely drafted. Touching too. It’s true that Time moves every story along. Life passes on.
Thank you, very much.
I’m still puzzled by our human tendency to repeat, to unconsciously recreate a dysfunctional situation despite our knowledge of and loathing for the earlier situation. I’ve never heard an adequate explanation for this, though some say it’s from an unconscious magical belief that we can conquer the first situation by re-entering it in this way. That seldom (never) works, of course, so I’m not sure that’s the true cause.
I’ve heard this story dozens of times. A while back, I used it as the inspiration for this wood carving:
I think these kinds of stories likely number in the millions.
I couldn’t definitively say why they continually repeat either, but I think looking back through my own experiences, a lot depends simply on the idea of learning processes. Learning the lessons of life on a – how not to – basis leaves an awful lot of winding routes to get to the -how to – conduits.
If you haven’t been taught how to assess or manage particular issues as you are growing up, then you might have to presume self-awareness beyond capability. Some issues are more obvious for what needs appropriate help and how to address it, but what to do for the less obvious?
Most of us only find out what really is vulnerable about ourselves when we are tested by the circumstances of life.
I couldn’t open your link, so unfortunately I couldn’t see your carving. I am very curious about it though. Thank you so much for reading my story and for your comment.
There’s a curiosity to see inside the lives of others which blog reading makes possible. This story reminds me how blessed I am to have my family and my husband. I had a different cross to bear which left scars and heartache in its’ wake. My nine-year-old son died after a 7 1/2 year battle with leukemia. No one escapes life unscathed. Our battles are uniquely personal and painful. I never expected to outlive my little Christopher. I’m a survivor who has a deep faith in God and a clear appreciation for the gift of life, especially the lives of the unborn. Save the human babies!
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. You are quite right, we all do get tested by life’s challenges. Hopefully we will all eventually find our way to genuine peace too. I truly wish you the very best on the journey to yours. Thank you for reading my story.
I was crying as I read this as I can so identify with parts of it. With a few changes it is my story as well. My life is really good now though, and I am thankful for the lessons I have learned.
It’s always great to hear that someone has overcome negative experiences and made a better life. Hooray for you!
I was quite touched by your comment. These stories we share join up so many of us in various meaningful ways. It’s nice to hear that you too were able to move on successfully. I’ve heard far too many tales otherwise. Keep on taking good care.
She’s quite a lady. Sending good vibes and best wishes her and her Mom’s way.
Thank you for that. I am sure my mother has read your comment and had her day made for her. All the best back to you and thanks again!
We lived a similar yesterdays. Both finally found a life in today- simple pure and true.
Traveling Mercies to you!
Thank you very much for the good wishes, and for reading it. All the best to you too.
I can identify with the redefining of success and living a path that is more meaningful than it is conventionally ambitious.
Yes, there are actually a lot of layers to that process isn’t there? Congratulations on finding yours too, and thanks so much for reading my story.
Beautiful written! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing.
Thank you. I have to admit, it wasn’t easy to finally put it out there, but a certain wise friend convinced me that it was time to let it go. Take care.
I hope life’s journey is more fulfilling for you now. And, life is a journey. All the ups and down define who we are. I think there are a lot of women out there that can relate to this piece. Well done!
Thank you so much for your kindness. Yes, those days are long gone now, and I hope the same for so many others too. Thanks again.