My mom has been on my mind a lot lately. There are lots of reasons for this. With Mother’s Day being this weekend, it brings me back to all the countless hours standing in front of the card display trying to find a card that basically said, “Thank you for loving me the best that you could even though it was not enough.”
Mother’s Day is bittersweet for some of us.
It is heart wrenching when your parent is just not able to parent, for whatever reason. For everyone, I am sure.
All I ever wanted was for her to love me. All the time.
When I was my son’s age, my mom got “sick.” There isn’t anyone who can really explain her illness. When I was six or seven, my mom and dad started getting into horrible – fights all the time. My mom would make me sleep in her bed and when my parents fought, she made me run and get her checkbook and sit on it.
I remember my dad spending nights in motels. Banging on doors and screaming and having no clue what was going on. I remember him combing through real estate books not understanding why, but was pretty excited as I was alienated at my school. My mom had gotten into arguments with the principal, teachers, and other mothers to the point where I was not allowed in certain groups, like the Girl Scouts. I know what she told me was the reason, but I do not know if it inaccurate. My mom had her own version of reality.
When I was seven, she was suddenly, and without warning unable to walk. Looking back, I believe it was psycho-somatic. At the time, it was terrifying. My dad worked multiple jobs. My mom was in the hospital – I do not recollect how long, but it felt like eternity. I cannot even remember what season it was. But my whole life changed with her illness. This is the split. The before and the after. But I was too young to remember the before. I wish I did. My little sister and I tell my two older siblings that they had different parents than we did and what we should say is, they had physical parents. My dad was rarely home. My mom was sick. My little sister and I would walk to the grocery store for food and whatever else was needed because my mom could not/would not move. We made dinner, or we did not eat. We cleaned the house, or it went dirty. My sister and brother were old enough to be gone with their friends, but my little sister and me were unable to escape that.
The inability to move was not the part that made it difficult, the need to win her approval in order to be loved, or the favorite was. We knew that if we disappointed her or she did not like what we said or did, that favor would be shifted. This created some neuroses in us and it pitted us against each other. So, we didn’t even have each other to depend on and turn to because we had to compete with each other for her attention and love. We were isolated from family – this is when we stopped going to see my dad’s family. She did not know or like any neighbors though they had lived on the street (where there were block parties) for many years.
I do not think she chose this nor did it out of ill will. This is what she knew. What she learned. What she understood to be true. regardless of why she did it, it has deeply affected me (I will not speak for the others).
I watch my friends and envy how they can turn to their parents for assistance or advice. I was a new mom with no one to help me with basic questions. I could not ask my mom because I was terrified of repeating the pattern. I had no aunts that I was close to – my mom had one sister who passed away long before I had Ben – and we had successfully alienated my dad’s entire family and as far as I knew, they hated us (as adults and with the help of Facebook, I have found my way back to them). My mother-in-law did not like me. My husband was vacant. I was alone and trying my damnedest to not screw up my child too much. I still am. . .
I see my son in his 8th year and I see so much of me in him and I hope that who he grows into is who I may have had a chance to be under better circumstances.My mom did the best she could, but it was not good enough. I am doing the best I can do and I hope and pray that he will not feel this way when he looks back on his life and how I raised him.
I hope that he never has to stand in front of the cards for moms and think, “I really with they made more generic cards without all the emotional stuff – something between funny and sentimental; where are the cards for the dysfunctional families?” It is a relief that I no longer have to fight this and it saddens me that I do not have a chance to mend that relationship.
Happy Mother’s Day to the dysfunctional ones with no cards to match their relationships.