This weekend is always hard for me. Mother’s Day isn’t exactly one of my favorites of the year. My mother and I don’t get along, at all. Matter of fact we have barely spoken for about five years now. The easiest thing would be to just act like it isn’t happening, denial always being a good escape for the things you don’t want to face. But that rarely helps anything or anyone.
My parents marriage was difficult, and I think I am being kind by saying that. My father was the town drunk and while my parents never divorced she had to carry the weight of caring for the house and the kids basically on her own. Now, as a child I couldn’t see that. I just saw the chaos and the turmoil. I resented it and I resented her. Giving my father a pass was easier in a way because you could always point to his drinking problems as the root cause of why he behaved the way he did. The other parent, well that isn’t so easy.
In my late teens and early twenties I did a great deal of reading on co-dependant relationships and people with substance abuse problems. Her reactions weren’t all that uncommon. Matter of fact my family reacted “normally” for the situation. For some strange reason children of substance abusers seem to find each other as adults. Most children end up either a substance abuser or married to one, the number is something like close to 70%. I am neither. But I have played around on the edges of both. I rarely drink today, but that wasn’t always the case. I also was engaged to a man who not only drank but used drugs as well. It was all part of my quest to find a man that would “stop” for me. I grew up, got over it, and removed him from my life. Of course it wasn’t as easy as that, but as painful as it was I did it. But oddly, instead of helping me understand my mother’s predicament better, it made me resent her more. I walked away, why couldn’t she?
My mother is also one of those highly critical people. Nothing I did ever seemed to be good enough. Right down to the nail polish color I used was criticized. Nothing I have ever done was ever good enough. I was one of the first people in my family to graduate college. I thought that would be a big one. That would get me some loving approval right? Wrong. She didn’t even come to my college graduation. It wasn’t that “big of a deal”. I was once told that no decent man would want me, nor would I be a good mother. Those hurtful comments along with my depression had a great effect on how I view the world as well as how I view myself.
I spent a great deal of my life looking for that approval, and many cases I looked in all the wrong places. It has taken a long time to let the bitterness of it all go. I am not even sure if it is really all gone, but I can deal with better; now that we don’t talk. I can keep it over there. Out of sight, out of mind so to speak. Not the really the best plan, but it has worked for me. It has allowed me to move on and get to a better place in my life. To have relationships that are built on mutual respect instead of a quest for approval.
But underneath it all, the desire to love my mom as openly as many others do is still there. I also now know that if you spoke to my mom she would tell you how amazing I am. She tells people that I have a kind heart, that I am intelligent, and the amazement that she had that I ended up working in politics and the passion that I have for it. She worries about me constantly. You see we have this odd sort of communication. Mutual friends unfairly get put in the middle of this ongoing battle and they keep us informed of the happenings in each others lives, since I have no communication with any of my family at all.
My mother is getting up there in years and she won’t be around forever. I know in my head that the time to make peace is now. I never had that chance with my dad. While it shouldn’t have been, his death was very unexpected and seemed so sudden. He had health problems, but I guess I always expected his exit of the world to be far more dramatic than sitting down and dying while he was preparing dinner. It was so ordinary and pedestrian to the point that it threw my whole family off. I have always believed he knew it was coming, he called many people shortly before his death, and by shortly I mean hours and minutes even. My phone call came about one hour prior. He called to tell me I had mail at his house. Very odd.
I have figured out that now no matter what your relationship to your parent is, the draw to them is always there. The desire to have a loving relationship is too strong to deny. Now, there will be times that having that relationship will be unhealthy, but it doesn’t change the need to have it. You will always miss it. You will always mourn that you don’t have it.
I could pick up the phone this weekend, but I doubt I will. I can use the excuse that I don’t have her phone number. But I know I can get easily, if I wanted to. I am still not ready. I am still scared to open up that can of worms and find that the pain is still too real. But I can openly and honestly say that I love my mother. That I miss not having a relationship with her, and that I think my life would more complete if we were closer.
So Happy Mother’s Day to a woman who isn’t easy, has brought a great deal of pain into my life, but is still my mom.