Carousel

by Jennifer on June 29, 2008

This day, June 29, is an anniversary of sorts, but not one that I celebrate.

I’ve told the story of what happened on this day almost 30 years ago. Every year after, Sue made a point of mentioning or celebrating the date, or I’m sure I would never have remembered it on my own. I don’t remember how she would say it exactly, but it was something like this is the day I became your mother. The day was as sacred to her, as worthy of a card or commemorative gesture, as Mother’s Day.

What is a date? It’s nothing, really, just a way to mark time. One turn of the Earth on its axis. A way to fix ourselves to a place, to a moment, to an event. Yet each day of the year comes around like a painted horse on a carousel and we look up, and even wave.

But what if we want to separate ourselves from the memory of a date? Is there a trick that would work to rub out a memory? It hasn’t happened often, but I’ve forgotten this anniversary before, only to think of it the next day or days later with relief that it was past, the organ music of the carousel several bars ahead already. I’ve never forgotten it altogether, though.

I do know that there are prettier horses on the carousel, other dates that are worth remembering, dates that were pivotal in my adult life. Ones that are painted in bright detail and have flowery wreaths about their necks, that rise and fall to the music. The ones that everyone races to get to first. That aren’t gray and sad and fixed in place.

My children’s birthdays. The memory of a favorite vacation. Holidays. The things that can make me say, “Remember this time last year?”

One would think that after 29 years, almost three quarters of my life so far, this event would fall off my internal calendar. Maybe a renovation is in order. A new coat of paint on that particular horse. Something big or significant in some way to celebrate on June 29 every year. Even then, that other event will be subtext, but it’s worth a shot.

Any ideas?

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

McSwain June 29, 2008 at 9:17 am

Would I had an answer to this one–too many unforgettable private anniversaries of my own. Perhaps, though, you could find a way to turn that feeling into joy–like every time it pops up you take your own children to ice cream or find a way to tell them how very much you love them. Or maybe you could create a little book for your kids and use those moments to write about your present–something they can read in their future to remember the good times. Because after all, you’ve created a different kind of family for yourself.

McSwains last blog post..

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Tina June 29, 2008 at 9:56 am

Aw, Jen. I’m so sorry. I hadn’t read about your childhood until this morning. There is a difference though between remembering and celebrating. Perhaps find a way to celebrate who you have become despite the events behind the memories? Because you’re pretty darn awesome.

Tinas last blog post..Heart of the Home

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Akelamalu June 29, 2008 at 9:59 am

I have only just read ‘the story’ and I can understand why you don’t celebrate. 🙁

Akelamalus last blog post..Saturday Wordzzle # 19

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Daryl June 29, 2008 at 10:30 am

I wish there was a way to forget things like that …if there is I sure dont know it. I have a few anniversaries I would like to forget, purge from my memory .. so far even if I dont remember it on or around the actual date, I find myself suddenly for no reason thinking of it .. and as soon as I do I shake my head and focus on something good .. .happy ..

That’s the best I can do .. I hope you can eventually purge this one ..

Daryls last blog post..

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Hilary June 29, 2008 at 11:26 am

I’m so sorry that you have such sad memories. I sure can understand the need to have a different impact on this date. Or perhaps the blogging about it will help to sever that tie. You’ve certainly come a long way from when you were controlled by this woman. In many ways you’ve grasped the brass ring. Perhaps you can celebrate that concept on this day. You are no longer harnessed.

Hilarys last blog post..Dragonfly Wings

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Jenn @ Juggling Life June 29, 2008 at 11:44 am

I like the idea of celebrating your own motherhood on this day and acknowledging that you overcame your past; not everyone is able to.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..Livin’ In The Now

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flutter June 29, 2008 at 11:51 am

Make June 29th the day that you show your kids how you broke that cycle.

flutters last blog post..inspiration board 6-28

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Madge June 29, 2008 at 12:23 pm

I’m with flutter. June 29 should become your own personal Mother’s Day — as in when you celebrate yourself as a mother and your children. you’re the best.

Madges last blog post..Thanks, I Needed That!!

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Ann June 29, 2008 at 12:47 pm

The only thing that came to mind (knowing the story) is: what about celebrating the beauty that is in your own family? In other words, the Mother that you are? Or, the fact that the chain is now healed (aka, the chain is broken)? I don’t know…maybe that’s too close to home though. This is a tough one. What about simply nurturing yourself in way that you know will always feel “nurturing”, and therefore, “mothering”?

Anns last blog post..Cell Phone Hickie, With Lemon Tart

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Kellan June 29, 2008 at 1:49 pm

I’m sorry about the memories that surround this date. But … I completely believe that all that surrounds this woman – the bad and good – the turmoil – is what has rounded you into the fabulous woman that you are – created a fabulous writer that is able to tap into those emotions and memories to bring out the fabulous stories and writings —– do not wish this date away—– it is your life as hard as some memories and realities might be. It made you who you are and you are FABULOUS!!!

Take care – Kellan

Kellans last blog post..The Sweetest Baby

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Lisa Milton June 29, 2008 at 2:23 pm

I never know what to do with these sort of dates, etched in the mind & soul. I like the idea of doing something great with your kids, to ease over that hurt and create something new.

Or maybe it’s a day you spend playing poker, on a drive?

I don’t know.

(Incidentally, my wedding date marked another not-so-happy date for me. At first, I was bummed out by it, but now I just think the 25th is a big day for me – good & bad – and it doesn’t hurt so much anymore.)

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rima June 29, 2008 at 2:36 pm

I love the idea of making something else to “celebrate” on the 29th, instead. Unfortunately, I’m kind of short on specifics. But yes! It’s time to take back June 29th!

rimas last blog post..You Can’t Take It With You

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TEOM June 29, 2008 at 4:19 pm

How about writing something like “this is the day I am no longer your daughter” and burning it?

TEOMs last blog post..I think I may have overstated how good I am at climbing trees…

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Tootsie Farklepants June 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm

*jumping up and down* I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW!!! This will be the day that you throw out your entire wardrobe and BUY ALL NEW CLOTHES! Because if I were going to invent an annual holiday, that would totally be it.

Tootsie Farklepantss last blog post..We Pause for this Moment of Awwwww…

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Jennifer Harvey June 29, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Tootsie, we may have a winner! 🙂

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Dharmamama June 29, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Do you hang out with any… uhhh… crunchy, earth-mama, celebrate the solstice types? Because maybe you could have a one-time ritual to “cleanse” the date, with your women friends and their kids (or just women), a ritual with *drumming* and chanting, candles, sage… That kinda thing can be very meaningful and powerful.

Dharmamamas last blog post..Mostly Wordless

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the mama bird diaries June 29, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Love the other ideas here. Maybe June 29th should just be a simple day of gratitude where you give thanks for everything you have over come and become. And you reward yourself with every treat imaginable on this day.

the mama bird diariess last blog post..i’m a little bit country

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JCK June 29, 2008 at 10:31 pm

I like Flutter’s idea, too. I’m a big believer in creating special rituals. You could have a ceremony, burn sage to clear the bad memories – asking them to move on and leave you in peace. Light a pure white candle, read lovely poetry on mothering – write something beautiful yourself, as you always do..

OK, I’m going on…and on..

Great that you are wanting to turn the day around. I know it is painful.

JCKs last blog post..Do not hate me because I don’t get Twitter…

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Mrs. Chili June 30, 2008 at 3:42 am

I don’t know if “forgetting” is the right tactic. We are who we are because of all the things that have affected us, and even though this isn’t a HAPPY thing, it certainly did affect you in positive ways. You’re a far better mother for it, for example, and, I suspect, a better human being.

If it were me (and, honestly? It is), I’d continue to let the day pass by without recognition, though if you feel you need to do a counter-celebration, turn it into a Mother’s Day for YOU. Take your kids mini-golfing or to a movie or do something with them that will help THEM remember the 29th as a day that was joyful and fun. Celebrate the mother that YOU are, and all of the little things that conspired to get you here.

love.

Chili

Mrs. Chilis last blog post..Happy Anniversary

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Mary Alice June 30, 2008 at 5:06 am

I love rituals and am particularly fond of walking the labyrinth, which in many ways is a metaphor for life. My suggestion is to find outdoor labyrinth that you could walk….at night is especially powerful….and carry in your hand flowers or small tea candles to light (if they are allowed) Along the walk drop your flowers or light the candles and leave them in the path and say a blessing with each one to honor particular women in your life who have served a strong female roll models/mentors and who have helped you on the path to who you have become. Honor those women and the mother you have become.

Mary Alices last blog post..Open House Friday

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Julie Pippert June 30, 2008 at 6:58 am

I would write notes about her or things that came from her and tie them to rocks, which I would chunk (such as into the water or off a cliff), or to balloons, which I would release (and maybe shoot down) (kidding!) (mostly).

I have a vengeance streak and feel better for taking some sort of power over things that happened to me, when I had no power for some reason.

Then I’d go celebrate by doing something fun. Maybe that’s with kids, maybe it’s not. It depends on the person.

I think I’d want to be with someone but I’d like to choose a friend or an older woman who is a friend or mentor. I’d want the day to be healing for me, the child in me,and maybe mothering is that for some, and even for me at times, but, err, I guess that day I’d like to be healing me by focusing on me.

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cindy June 30, 2008 at 9:39 am

Geez. Dunno what to say. I think the reader who noted that everything that happened to you made you who you are is on to something. But, goddamnit , I know you would still be fabulous if you didn’t have to endure all that shit.

How did you like The Gathering? I just finished it and am getting ready to go buy my next pile of books for my vacation. My take on The Gathering: great depiction of family dynamics, good character development, love the device of the unreliable narrator–gets me every time.

cindys last blog post..My husband is absolutelypositively going on vacation

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apathy lounge June 30, 2008 at 11:27 am

Well…if I lived closer I would bring you homemade chicken soup and homemade bread. We’d have a bowl and a glass of wine (or two) and talk about how you determined a different course for you life. Some people use abuse as an excuse to perpetuate with their own kids even it after they’ve escaped its clutches. You went a different way and as Robert Frost wrote, “that has made all the difference”. Others have pointed out that there is a huge difference between remembering and celebrating. And Tootsie’s brilliant advice about buying clothes is one I can totally get behind. In remembrance…I’m headed out to buy a new pair of sandals. Thinking of you yesterday AND today.

apathy lounges last blog post..Even if my dysfunction had been funny, I still wouldn’t be able to write a book about it.

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Bruce June 30, 2008 at 11:35 am

Life….it is different for everybody. Your adopted mother may have terrorized you as a child, but would it have been more terrifying not to have had a mother at all? Hard to say, depends on the individual and how we handle adversity at our core. How do I handle the passage of time and the reflections on days past. In solitude and in the wilderness if I can. Society amplifies our problems at times instead of solving them. Only we can solve our own problems. Alone in the wood or by a waterfall, the puzzle peices fall into place much eaiser.

Bruces last blog post..My – MP3

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anymommy June 30, 2008 at 5:21 pm

I just wanted to say that I read both posts and was so moved by your words and your courage. I love the ideas here for changing that day. The cleansing rituals speak to me, but Tootsie’s idea is my favorite!

anymommys last blog post..Game Over

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Manic Mommy June 30, 2008 at 5:43 pm

I’ve got nothing. But I do feel for you. How dare she take even one day from your whole life?

Manic Mommys last blog post..Like The New Girl Always Says: "Ask the Internets"

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Rhea June 30, 2008 at 7:18 pm

Wow, that’s an amazing post and an amazing story. You’ve been through a lot, girlfriend.

I have a new site and address if you want to stop by.

Rheas last blog post..Attention!! Important announcement

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Meg June 30, 2008 at 7:35 pm

Jennifer, I am sending you hugs all the way from Texas sweetie. Of course this day stands out after so many years, but one day, soon, hopefully your heart and your soul and your mind will all finally get together and decide to leave her and all the ugliness that came with her in the past. I can relate to what you are feeling, my daughter went through a lot of ugliness with her stepmonster before I could stop it. She lost her relationship with her dad over it, but we have moved on and I can’t take what happened to her away, I pray every day that her heart will continue to heal. I will keep you in my prayers when I think about that now too. You have so much to be proud of! You turned out to be an incredible writer, a great mom and a fabulous women!

With total respect,
You always have a friend in Texas!

Megs last blog post..FABULOUS Shoes

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melissa June 30, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Hugs to you. Just how you’re raising your children now says so much about the person you are despite the example you saw.

melissas last blog post..Mountain Mama

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Sandy (Momisodes) June 30, 2008 at 8:11 pm

You are such an amazing woman and mother. Take this day back, give it a fresh coat of paint, and claim it for your own. *hugs*

Sandy (Momisodes)s last blog post..Droppin’ Like Flies

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Autumn July 1, 2008 at 7:16 am

There are a lot of great ideas on here. I’d grab a handful and try them, see what makes you feel better. Just remember, it’s only a date- she never, ever truly “became” your mother. A piece of paper does not a parent make. Neither does DNA, but that’s for another post, yes?

Celebrate you- all you have become, all you have had the voice to speak up and say, and all you have done to be better. Because you are.

Autumns last blog post..Life is In the Making

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Emily R July 1, 2008 at 12:59 pm

I think perhaps the date needs to become a celebration for you. You will never forget it, but you have taken control. Own the date as a liberation — she no longer can define you.

Emily Rs last blog post..You know I’m gonna be like you

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Crazycath July 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Renewing vows sprung to mind but maybe that is too precious to put on this day.
How about, booking a holiday of a lifetime, to travel out or start on that day? Future memories would be “This time in 2009 we were on our way to…” or even “on our way back from…”

It doesn’t rub it out completely, but it gives an alternative.

You seem to be doing ok to me though, about that date. You have it all firmly in context and this is good.

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Louise July 4, 2008 at 3:51 pm

The day has passed, and I”m sure you’re just fine now. For a year at least. BUT…

Tootsie Farklepants TOTALLY made me laugh, and what a great idea!

But the wise Mrs. Chili put so simply what so many others, including you said. Do something fun with YOUR kids that day. They will come to remember that day as “Fun with Mommy Day” or something like that. It will be your own special celebration. And what made that day memorable WILL become only a subtext.

You know that not by choice, my anniversary is on the anniversary of someone from that family with who I don’t wish to connect myself. And I think of it every year. But the date is MINE, not hers. Even though I can’t help but remember the other anniversary, it’s only a thought. And for all the hell and heartbreak that the anniversary I’m speaking of would bring into the world, had the union not happened, I would not be here. We would have never met. None of us would be the same people we are. Maybe we would still be the terrifc (You can giggle. I held back a grander word.), but probably not as deep and feeling and compassionate as we are.

Furthermore, Sue (and other members of her family) have always felt the need to force celebrations for themselves. All I can say is that some people don’t have to ask for recognition or celebration. When you have to ask (or demand), it’s a sorry state in which to be. She made a portion of your life beyond horrible, but you aren’t there anymore. You haven’t done anything to her, but I’m guessing her life will never hold the joy yours holds.

Louises last blog post..“I Like the Horse Part of the Parade”

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tysdaddy July 6, 2008 at 5:25 am

Hey Jennifer,

Long time no chatty. Just playing catch up and wanted to say I agree with flutter on this one – find a way to make this a celebration of moving on. So much has changed and some of it must be worth celebrating. So buy a cake and dig in.

Hope things are well with you.

tysdaddys last blog post..Ritual de lo Habitual

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Milena July 7, 2008 at 5:39 pm

I come late to this post and so I’m sure it must have stated the same thing if not perhaps in the same words. You white-out and re-write. Not erase and re-write mind you since that is too impossible to manage sometimes BUT, you can write OVER. With what? You ask. Anything really. Make it Rilke day and have the children recite a Rilke Poem on this day. Make it an I honor the jeep that I loved day. Or a family poker match day and you let the kids beat the socks off of you. Eventually, the new anniversary will take precedence over the other one, you must only give it time. One good memory replaces a bad one.

xoxo,

Miilena

Milenas last blog post..On becoming a citizen of the United States of America

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