Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Yellow Jacket

Holidays are tough for me and Mother's Day is coming.  Sometimes I can feel very lonely, whether it is a day spent by myself because my family is far away or if it a day spent in a room full of people--even people I love.  Sometimes holidays can feel like a reminder of what was lost in terms of hopes and dreams--for myself and my parents.  There can be sense of failure.

Last summer before I moved from Pittsburgh, I spent time purging to lighten the load to pack.  Overall, it felt really good and freeing.  There was a bunch of stuff that I gave to my mom to pass along to my goddaughter.  I figured she would appreciate it more than sitting in my closet or on a shelf collecting dust.  It felt good.

Then a few weeks ago my mom forwarded me a picture of my godchild, O~.  She was wearing my yellow spring jacket that I had as a small child.  My mom explained that when my cousins came for Easter, the girls wanted to go outside, but it had grown chilly and O~ didn't bring a coat.  So, my mom went into the closet and found the jacket and offered it to her to wear.  It fit her well and she wore it home.  In fact, she enjoyed the coat so much, my mom said she could keep wearing it.  The picture my mom sent over the phone was of O~ and LJ going for a walk in the woods in a park near their home.

But somehow this picture did not elicit the same feelings of when I gave O~ the Teacher Barbie and children's books.  My heart was sad, and then I felt guilty.  My mom had always said that she saved some of my old clothes because she thought that when I had children that maybe they could wear some of them.  What was once something I imagined would be for my children, was now being worn by someone else's child.  And I cried.  But, I did not let my mom know.  I didn't have the heart to tell her.  She was so excited and happy to share that O~ loved the coat and was so proud to be wearing it.

I mean, I had given pause in the summer when I gave my mom some of my stuff to give to O~, but that stuff didn't seem to have as much meaning.  The children's books were kind of a helpful reduction in the mass of books I had collected for my classroom library.  In fact, I told my mom to share with my cousins that if there were any books that they didn't really like, to just give them away.  The Teacher Barbie was something A~ gave to me as a Christmas present when we were in undergrad together.  I went back and forth on that one.  It spoke to my roots in teaching, but I kept thinking about him when I saw it.  I figured O~ would have more fun playing with it. 

But, what I had held back was a little pearl necklace.  I don't remember how old I was when my parents gave it to me, but I do remember feeling like it was one of my first real pieces of jewelry.  It is a kid's version and not real, but it was close enough as a kid.  I went back and forth.  Why should it just sit in a jewelry box when O~ could probably enjoy it?  But the nagging thought was, what if I have a little girl someday and I want to give it to her?  Would I regret giving it to O~?  If I gave it to her, would that be giving up on my dream of being a mother?  Would I be giving something away in haste and later have regret?

Somehow the yellow jacket had more meaning for me, too.  I think it goes back to how items of clothing can carry so much more meaning for some people.  And even though the jacket was mine as a child, was it mine to give away?  This jacket really belongs to my mom and it is really for her to decide in some ways, I think, maybe.  So if that is the case, what does that mean?  Has my mom given up the dream that I will have a child someday?  Has my mom given up the dream that she will have a grandchild?  I thought that coat was special.  Maybe it doesn't carry as much meaning as I thought it did for my mom?  Or maybe her intent is that O~ can borrow it and then return it when she grows out of it?

I don't know.  I just know that I feel terribly upset about it, and I feel incredibly guilty and selfish for feeling sad about it.  My heart hurts in so many different ways.  And in the picture O~ just looks so happy and like she is having fun wearing the jacket.  How can I feel so sad when it makes O~ and my mom so happy?  At least I know that by my cousin taking a picture of O~ wearing the coat and sending it to my mom she knows it is important, has meaning and will take care of it.