Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba
Taken from Huatusco, Veracruz, the closest town to Margarita's family's ranch.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Unconditional Love

What is unconditional love?

I will make a blanket statement from limited experience;  All middle children (the second child of 3) understand that their parent or parents pay more attention to the first and the last child.  The first child is raised with the responsibility as the leader of the siblings and the 3rd child is the baby, cherished and showered upon with gifts.  Somehow the middle child becomes lost between the two.  I'm the middle child between two females who grew up with only a mother.  My friend Jerome mentioned that his father always ignored him...  We see how Alejandro's wife Rejina mistreates her second son of three Pablo and how he suffers for her attention...  In my family Sheri was always treated as the one responsible for us when my mother wasn't around.  In turn, she appeared older than her age when we were growing up.  The adults loved Beth because she was always talking.  In fact, she was nicknamed, "Motor Mouth."  Imagine a cute little girl buzzing around like a bee with a mouth twice her size...Because of all the attention Beth received, she learned early on that, if she asked for something from someone, she would receive it.  I on the other hand was very quiet.  I didn't ask anything of anyone, only of my mother; her attention.  I remember one day returning home from going out with my "Big Brother" Ron, I mentioned that I was hungry.  My mother asked me didn't I eat with Ron.  I said, yes, but only one hotdog.  She asked me why I didn't ask Ron for another one.  She said, "but that's what he's there for..."  I just shrugged my shoulders.  The truth was that I was afraid of imposing myself upon other people.  I was so shy that I didn't know how to say thank you to my aunts and uncles.  My mother would suggest I call them to thank them for a gift or to ask something of them, whatever that may have been.  She suggested I call Ron to ask him to do something with me if it seemed I hadn't seen him for a while.  And, for the life of me, I couldn't pick up the phone.  I couldn't go through with the calls.

What does this have to do with unconditional love?  First, unconditional love is a fantasy based upon the need to believe that there is permanent bond with someone.  Love relationships end.  Friends get married and become immersed in their lives distancing themselves increasingly with family responsibilities, career responsibilities, new friendships.  Friends move away...  However, the parent supposedly always is there...

Maybe someone invented the concept to protect the children from neglectful parents...  It's kind of like the belief in God.  If you don't believe in God, you'll go to hell.  If you don't love your children, you are first a bad parent, second you are ill...  The law may protect the children from abusive parents by putting those parents in jail or by removing their children.  However, isn't it better not reaching that point?  Somehow the parent must delude themself into believing that they love their child and for that reason they will not neglect that child nor abuse them.  However, I believe we know enough people who grew up with parents who truthfully didn't want their children there with them, they felt that the children were a burden.  Raise your hand if you know a parent who felt that way TO YOU...  I believe I just read about that story yesterday.  The couple or the person falls-in-love with the idea of having a baby, especially as a representation of the new love between the couple.  But, not long afterwards they awaken to the reality that maybe they were a bit more selfish and unprepared for the self sacrifice required with parenthood.  I also know a lot of people who absolutely adore their children and love the experience of parenthood and watching their children develop.  One doesn't negate the other.  However, the concept of unconditional love condemns you to feeling there is something wrong with you if you don't feel that way towards the other family member...  There are women who just can't enjoy their sons.  There are women who praise their sons and neglect their daughters...

So, if there are so many people who don't seem to truly love their children, who metaphorically mark off the days on the calender counting how many remain until their children leave for their own lives, what does that say for unconditional love being that inherent bond between the mother and the child?

Thinking about this much over the years, I came to the conclusion that the unconditional love is more probable coming from the child directed at the parent.  The reason being because of the complete dependence that the baby turned child has upon the parent.  The baby is born into a completely unknown environment and is horribly scared.  The nurse almost immediatedly places the baby in the arms of their mother which become symbolic of protection and comfort.  The mother's breast becomes symbolic of nurturance.  The mother's body heat removes the baby from the coldness of the air.  However, what if upon being born, the baby is handed directly to another adult and the mother disappears?  What if that adult is a male and sooths and nurtures the baby?  Logically the baby will develop a bond towards that male.  All we want is protection, comfort and nurturance.  If the priest raises the baby with love, the baby will grow into an adult loving that priest...  But, what you must understand is there are conditions.

If you put the baby up for adoption and never tell that baby become a child become an adult that you are not their blood parent, there is no conflict.  If you create a loving and nurturing environment for your adopted child, they will grow up equally well as that child who was not put up for adoption and who was raised within a loving nurturing environment.  But, you as an adoptive parent cannot experience unconditional love for your child because they weren't created in your womb. And because you are not biological mother, that child can't have that bond with you because they were nurtured by your umbilical chord.  Where am I going with this?

The idea is that there is a lot of myth in the fantasy of love between parents and their offspring along with between siblings.  These are fantasies of wishful thinking, hoping that love could save the day from the beginning of time.  Less work.  Less thinking.  Less responsibility.  Less concern.

What does this have to do with my mother?

Neither here nor there...  She pushed me away.  She was there during the surgeries. She was there for the hospitalizations after the suicide attempts...  She appeared at my baseball games.  But she wasn't there for me emotionally and she said some horrible things throughout my childhood.  She contradicted herself.  She had a horrible temper and a hurtful tongue.  But I'm still connected with her.  She tells me that I am the child most like her (maybe because we both are middle children?).  As an adult she tells me that I am her most intelligent child.  I needed to be that intelligent child as a child.  I needed her respect for me being most like her when I was developing my social/interpersonal and academic skills, when I needed to learn respect for and confidence in myself.  I was beat down for so many years and those beatings began with my uncle Stan, continued with Sheri and my elementary school peers and remained a constant with my mother.  What I learned most was to beat myself down and not believe I truly had a chance.  Should I publish my writings?  Should I devote my life to my artwork?  Should I open a restaurant?  Should I run for political office?  Should I have become a teacher after college?  Who believes in you if your mother doesn't?  Conditional Love.

Alan's parent's believed in him from the day he was born until today, legal representative for Google in Washington.  Because his parents believed in him, he learned to believe in himself and, for a very long time, everyone believes in him...  Put the two sons next to each other and try pointing out the failure; the loser.  Is one more intelligent than the other?  I truly doubt it.  I think I could have become that N.I.H. cancer researcher as I had told you of my fantasies during that small window of hope in junior year of college.  I know I could be a great chef and possibly even a famous artist.  But, the carpet was pulled out from under my feet before I had the chance to step upon it.

I am always working backwards; trying to repair the foundation of the house before the roof falls.  It's very frustrating.  You decided to be my loving mother so many years too late.  You know that.  You know the deficit.  But you can't go back in time.  You just accept the failures within your one shot deal...  It's very difficult for me to accept those failures because I am a male.  Non-gay males don't seek an economically stable significant other.  The post-feminist woman can be that successful worker with a wonderful career.  And she can be a stay at home mom.  Sheri and Beth had the security of having their mother, since each gender truthfully needs their respective role models whom have been there before, such as when the girl has her first period and when it becomes time to start wearing a bra or when they start using cosmetics or when they are pregnant and about to give birth.  The father isn't good for much during those milestone bonding experiences.  What should the father say to the daughter when she enters her first sexual relationship? Maybe the mother has some useful tips etc...  I can't even begin with the father as a role model.  I didn't have that.  But I didn't even have a mother.

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