When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

Mother’s Day 2010

By Height: Lee, Mom, Patty, Mark & me (St. Pete, FL, Easter 1969)

May 9, 2010.  While I spend Mother’s Day with my children and husband, relishing in their homemade cards and the flowers they picked out one by one with Daddy’s diligent help, my thoughts stray toward memories of my mother.  The other day I screamed at Sophie so loudly, and for so long, I nearly scared myself.  She kept pushing my buttons, and then pushing them again, until I reached the very edge of my patience: talking under her breath, saying “oh come on,” or my favorite, “what the —,” every time I asked her to do something, arguing about every little word I uttered, and outright refusing to listen and take direction.  Despite knowing she’s ADHD and suffers with significant anxiety, it’s still hard for me to understand the anger and attitude that leads a 7 year old to respond this way without interruption for weeks on end.  I know I tend to be generous with my personal history, especially in terms of the relationship with my parents and siblings while growing up, but I honestly can’t think of a single instance that I spoke to either of my parents the way Sophie speaks to us on what lately has been a daily basis.  And my lack of smart-mouthed remarks and eye rolling was not because my parents instilled the fear of death in me or because I was timid and afraid of my own shadow.  Quite the contrary, I was plenty talkative and full of mischief.  But I was also respectful, and probably more aware of other’s feelings than most kids my age.  So today, on Mother’s Day, I wish my own mother were here so that I could talk to her about these problems.  I also wish the depth and solidness of the relationship with my children, especially Sophie, might one day be as strong as the one I shared with my mother.  I can’t help but reminisce about that time not so very long ago when the roles were reversed, when I was the young child revering her mother.  The hip cat glasses, the way I used to twirl her charm bracelet during church, how I never understood why she wouldn’t get her hair wet in the ocean, and the way she shyly covered her mouth when she was embarrassed; but mostly, how I knew in my heart that she understood and loved me more than anyone in the world.  If I had a bad day at school, my mother would know the instant I set foot in the door, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.  She knew me better than I knew myself, and there was tremendous security in that truth.  As Mother’s Day comes to a close, I wonder whether Sophie will long for me when my life is through the way I yearn for my mother, dead nine years now, every single day.  I don’t mean to sound morose; I’m talking about love, respect, connection, acceptance, comfort and beautiful family bonds.  I didn’t give birth to Sophie, though I wish I had, and I sometimes fear that my lack of maternal authenticity could widen the smallest cracks in our bond  and one day lead to gaping, painful wounds.  After all, Sophie has already lost her birth mother, as has Peter, a fact neither of them has connected yet, at least not consciously, to this annual day of honor.  I want Sophie and Peter both to feel as loved and cherished as I felt by my mother, an imperfect woman just like me.  But because my mother’s love and commitment to us was entirely unassailable, she was everything to me; therefore she was perfect, and still is.  I want to be that kind of mother to my children, and especially for my daughter, who I have so much to teach and from whom I have so much to learn.  But maybe the loss she’s already suffered, a loss I didn’t endure until I was grown, is too much for her young heart to set aside, even for a moment. Until we adopted, I had little experience with anger and primal wounds, scars that run so deep they travel the speeding course of the very blood that fuels their hearts and souls.  I hope I’m the one whose unfailing love can show Sophie that there is a happier, freer, more content way to live.  For Peter, I hope he knows each day that he’s loved, that he’s accepted for who he is, and that his “real” mother, me, would fight entire armies to guard against harm to his beautiful heart and wounded mind.  No one ever told me how difficult being a mother would be, and I guess I’m glad.  Maybe Mother’s Day is really a day of forgiveness.  Maybe that’s what honor means, because all of us, from time to time, deserve a little forgiveness in favor of the good, the triumphs, the happy moments we string together to form for our children a ribbon of silky, lovely, flowing memory.



  1. Your Mom was so beautiful, Mary. I’m sure she would be proud of you.

    Comment by Jen Munn — May 9, 2010 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

  2. “It’s hard for me to understand the anger and attitude that leads a 7 year old to respond this way.”

    Based on what you’ve written about Sophie, assuming this isn’t accompanied by tantrums and rages or other symptoms, I don’t think it’s anger as much as attitude.

    Several of my friends are elementary school teachers, and even their best kids have attitude phases. They’re quite common in strong-willed, smart, and resilient children and adults. If you read the biographies of history’s real movers and shakers (in a good way), this combination of intelligence and strong will is very common.

    That’s not to say that you should let them go as if it’s acceptable behavior. Rather, when they’re exasperating you, it would be helpful to try to remind yourself that it’s a bad attitude, not hostility toward you. By the way, if you think her attitudes are bad now, talk to some mothers of teenagers.

    At the same time, if they start to be accompanied by signals of real anger, depression, or hostility, then it’s becoming more than a benign attitude phase and could be a symptoms of a clinical condition such as ADHD or recurring PTSD. In addition, given your unique situation with Peter, it may be her way of trying to get attention, especially the cursing.

    Your story and the way you express it are incredible. Good luck to you.

    Comment by FL — May 9, 2010 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

  3. Dear Mary,
    This passage touched my heart deeply, the reminiscing as well as your present predicament with Sophie. As you know I lost my Mom when I was only eleven. Still today, I believe that she guides my steps and sends me grace and wisdom.
    We must remember that sometimes when there is a loss we seem to remember incidents a little deeper. We hold them tight in our hearts, for we know that they will no longer be. It is our way of bonding and always keeping the connection. With Sophie it is more complicated then that. She cannot verbalize it but somehow the connection with her Mom is non-existent. Although she recognizes you as her Mom, intuitively she fights your ability to love her in all that you do for her. This is not what she was used too. Life at the orphanage taught her differently. Although she recognizes that your love is what she needs, her being needs to learn how to assimilate such a gift. You said it so well, Mary

    ” I want to be that kind of mother to my children, and especially for my daughter, who I have so much to teach and from whom I have so much to learn. But maybe the loss she’s already suffered, a loss I didn’t endure until I was grown, is too much to set aside.”

    As Sophie grows into herself she will be able to process more and hopefully relinquish the inner turmoil that she has. As mothers our job is to wake up each morning and be the best we can be. We can’t ask ourselves to do anything more. It is our energy that will prevail. I believe that Sophie and Peter will remember the underlining message of love that you give to them. And yes when you leave this earthly ground like yourself with your Mom, they will ultimately live their Mom’s message.

    God Bless You Mary, The bonding and learning that you all will experience from each other has only just begun. We gain true wisdom from our children. They teach us how to grow. I see this now from my own children. Somehow it all comes together. We must be patient and know that we all are traveling different paths. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts with me.

    Love Loretta

    Comment by loretta pitilli — May 10, 2010 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

    • You’re absolutely right about Sophie, Loretta. And I hope that you’re also correct that if we keep trying, all of us, our lives will one day come together. I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. It is beautiful here, though cold, and the kids are growing like weeds. I sure hope we get to see you soon – you know you are welcome any day, any time. Love Mary

      Comment by whenrainhurts — May 10, 2010 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

  4. Mary dear,

    Your heart is so full of love for your two children! Yes, it is so difficult to guide them and to respond to their shortcomings in a loving way; but I know that you do your very best. You do not have an easy job dealing with all that comes with Peter and Sophie’s souls. None of us are perfect; we do the best that we can and hope that with time things will get smoother. These children will always have your love in their hearts even though it might be difficult for them to express it. I, too, had my mother for a very short time in my life but she remains part of me even at 63! You will always be a part of Peter and Sophie; the part that knows that even though you may not always be pleased with their behavior, your love remains constant.

    Love you, Connie

    Comment by Connie Coleman — May 11, 2010 @ 8:48 am | Reply

  5. Mary,

    Yep, I’ve even scared myself too. The wt_ has run through my mind many times… I love your humor. All I know is this – I am a much stronger person today because of my kiddo than prior. I like you, can often just ‘feel’ the emotions of others. It can be a burden. I’m learning to keep an emotional distance in a way that I can still parent with love without being too pulled into the current drama my daughter is exhibiting, and like your Sophie, can be a week or more on end. It’s quite the endurance test isn’t it? Yow, is all I keep saying to myself…lol Of course, luckily, my kiddo says to me, “What’s with the yow all the time momma?” lol At least I have her attention then. From there I explain how maybe, just maybe, life just might be a bit easier for she and I if she might just stop for one little moment and take a really big breath, and stop and think please… Once again, I find the moving in slow motion stuff to focus my kiddo off of the high aggression. During the holidays, I thought a beaver or something got into the house. Just joking. My kiddo was chewing away on her wood bed. Not pretty. Worst of it was the stomache ache after for her. Not really good on the little tummy the painted wood bed. So, it was set to the curb for trash haulers. Now, she’s back in a metal bed. Ikea. 🙂 So, anxiety, aggression, mixed in with the over hype of the holidays from school parties, to other stimuli. I tried to contain it. It never works. I love the holidays. I want my kiddo to also. But, it has to be in small doses…

    I’m glad your mom was the type to be supportive. I wish I could say the same. So, we each have quite the path of life in supporting these kiddos. Thank God for love. It’s all that makes it through the day sometimes when my kid is on ‘overdrive’ lol as I term it.

    I love your blog. Can’t wait for your book!


    Comment by Lori — May 12, 2010 @ 9:52 am | Reply

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