Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is always a rough one for me.  Being an “orphan” (even as an adult) sucks.  What sucks more is that I don’t miss my mom - I miss what I didn’t have.

Mom drank and smoked (pot and cigarettes) and toward the end of her life dabbled in harder drugs, including meth.  She lied.  She stole.  She lied about stealing.  At one point, she stole her own jewelry and pawned it and blamed it on someone else.  (I forget… my brother’s girlfriend?  One of my cousins?)  Miraculously, she was able to find her jewelry and reclaim it, “no thanks to anyone else!”  How she was able to find her jewelry in a city the size of Colorado Springs is either a miracle or a suspicious coincidence.

She was the eternal victim.  She hated everyone who “had” but refused what people gave her.  This included non-material things like love and admiration and friendship.

When I married, I was scared to have her help with the wedding because I knew she’d act so put upon so I just did it all myself.  When my aunt and uncle offered to do our flowers for the ceremony as our wedding gift, I gratefully agreed, but my mom took that as rejection because I didn’t ask her to do it. (She never offered.)  Even though we made her (and my husband’s mother and our grandmothers) a special part of the wedding ceremony, she later told everyone that I left her out of “everything” and was embarrassed to even have her there.

When we bought our first house, I excitedly told her about the view and the square footage and she said in disgust, “Our house was half that size and you kids did just fine.  What do you NEED with a house that size?”  I was the only one of my siblings to have my own room growing up - it was the size of a walk-in closet.  But yes, we did just fine.  I just wanted more for my kids.  Why is that so wrong?  She never would come out to see the house.  She and my dad both died without ever having seen the house.  When we cleaned out her house, I found an envelope of photos of the house that I’d sent her.  I don’t think she ever looked at them.

She griped about “having” to go to choir concerts when I sang.  She’d piss and moan when I invited my grandparents to award ceremonies instead of her.  I just couldn’t win.  She hated going but hated to be left out.

When I was 23 and had my second son, I had horrific postpartum depression.  Mom and Dad came out to visit (the only time they ever visited us after I moved out) and my mom told me to just “have a drink or two, you’ll be fine.)  I was breastfeeding and refused to drink alcohol (never mind that it likely would have made the depression worse) and she told me that it was my choice and that I was choosing to be sad.

There are a million other stories - some that involve me, some that involve my siblings.  My sister and I like to play the “my mom is worse than your mom” game when we see each other, reminiscing about some of the shittier things my mom did.  It helps to laugh about it now.  It’s done and over and she’s gone, so it’s OK to laugh, now.

The thing that I learned is this:  My mom, for all her faults, did the best she could with what she had.  She didn’t CHOOSE to have crappy coping skills.  Not really.  She didn’t choose to learn better skills, either, but the point is, she wasn’t maliciously trying to harm me.  She loved me, in the ways she could love.

I don’t want to be like her.  I don’t want to reject the love she had or the love she offered just because it wasn’t the love I needed or wanted, so I forgive her.  I accept that she did the best she could, and even though it often was NOT good enough, or even close, it was what she had to offer.  I accept that it wasn’t my responsibility to raise her or protect her or keep her safe.  I accept that it was OK later in our lives together for me to keep her at a distance (emotionally and geographically) in order to protect myself (and my own kids!)  I accept that she had many wonderful, wonderful qualities and skills and was, in her own way, a unique and special person.

I loved my mom.  Even though I mostly miss who she should have been, I still am grateful that I had the chance to know her and learn from her… even if it was often what NOT to do.

Posted by Liberty at 06:25 AM

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