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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day heartache

I'm still reflecting on Mother's Day... not a good thing. I wish I could stop thinking about it. I've contemplated writing about it many times, for therapeutic reasons, then changed my mind. I've prayed about it so many times over the years. Why can't I just take it in stride?

You're wondering what's up? Did my mother die tragically? Was I abandoned? No. My mother lives less than two miles away in a senior's apartment building. I help take care of her. But when it comes to Mother's Day... Let's just say she is not the mother they write about in the greeting cards. I have no fond memories of my childhood that involve her. I have a hard time dealing with my jealousy of others that have great moms. Why couldn't I have one of those moms? I really think I would be better off emotionally if I had never known her... if I had been abandoned. At least then I could let my imagination create a loving lady that had no choice, that loved me enough to want the best for me.

From the time I was very young I remember feeling like my mom didn't really want me. And she probably didn't. I was the third child born into the unhappy marriage. I guess birth control wasn't in her vocabulary. My father married her because she was pregnant with my oldest brother. Another brother, four years younger than the first, might have been planned. I've never asked. I'm quite sure that I, as well as my youngest brother, were totally unexpected.

Mom and Dad were married about thirty years... That to me is amazing, considering their daily lives! There was no love between them. There wasn't much shown to us kids either. During their entire marriage, my dad never once gave my mother a birthday or Christmas present. No card, no flowers. Nothing. He made nasty comments about her weight at the dinner table. She slammed cupboard doors and grumbled. He retreated with his beer can to the basement or the garage.

I have no memories of Mom helping me to get ready for my prom. She would never have allowed me to go. She never taught me how to cook or keep house. She never told me about love. The memories I have of Mom are her calling us nasty names, her chasing us out of the house, her telling me that when I grew up I'd probably end up 'in trouble'. I could write a book on the negative things I remember from my childhood and teenage years, but that's not what this is about. It's about me.

The only time I remember hearing the word love was when my brothers and I would fight. Dad would tell us that we shouldn't fight because we loved each other. It's no wonder I grew up with a screwed-up definition of love! When I was in my twenties (my parents lived 1000 miles away then) I made myself tell them "I love you" at the end of a telephone call. There was a period of silence... Then, "I love you, too." It wasn't the way I imagined it sounding. It sounded strained, unnatural.

Now that I'm supposedly wiser, I think my parents aren't capable of that kind of love. Not everybody is. It's just that simple. I drew the short straw. But where does that leave me?

The leading character of my manuscript has a very skewed picture of what love is. I relate to her a lot. I made a mess of my past life because of that very reason. It wasn't until I let Jesus into my heart that I really understood love.

I vowed, when I had my daughter, that she would hear those words every day. And she did. Still, we don't have the relationship I wish we had. I did all the right 'mom' things for the most part. Our relationship changed during her rebellious teenage years. I was divorced and didn't have the answers. I don't think she's out of those years yet... but I blame myself for that.

Whoever you are reading this, I wish I had your mom. Because then I would know how to be that mom. I didn't have a script to go by. I don't have a clue how to be that great mom that I read about in the Mother's Day cards. Maybe if Mom hadn't run us out of the house so much, I could've watched those sixty shows that people are always talking about... you know... the ones that have the perfect mom and dad.

My best friend can't understand why I help my mom now. She remembers all too well. But my mom is old now and she needs help. My brothers aren't going to do it, so I guess I feel it's my obligation. She feels that way too. She went many years without having anything to do with me. Then she got old. She told me she was coming back because she needed me to take care of her. The Bible tells us to honor our mother and father. I have wrestled with this a lot. It's the reason that most people don't know the private side. It's the reason I've deleted several things I just wrote. I feel it's not honoring them to write this, even though I didn't really get into the nitty-gritty details. At least no one that knows them will be reading it.

So this Mother's Day, I went through the same anguish trying to pick an 'appropriate' card for Mom. I just can't bring myself to give her one of those 'thank you Mom for being there for me' greeting cards. It hurts too much. What hurts worse? When I open my daughter's card to me and don't find the 'thank you Mom for being there for me' greeting card.


Rae said...

I feel your anguish and understand it too. Luckily my parents were divorced when I was young but back in the day when it was still a stigma. I endured many troubles with my mom but after she died, I was able to look back without regret. I stayed at her bedside while she was sick because no one else was there. When all was said and done, I knew I had given my best and I couldn't have done more. As hard as it may be, you need to quit blaming yourself, allow yourself to be forgiven for any innocent mistakes you may have made with your daughter. Continue to take care of your mom. Your not obligated to say thank you. When she is gone, you will have been the better person for being there for her even though she was never there for you. God bless you. You can and will survive.

Lillian Robinson said...

I figure if God forgave me, who am I to hold on... But still, I don't deny responsibility for my own actions.

My mother-in-law promises me that I will have extra jewels in my crown!

Thank you for understanding.

SquirrelQueen said...

Lily, it took a lot of courage for you to write this post and you said what many out there feel.

I was always closer to my dad than my mother. Not that she was a bad mother, somehow we just never bonded like she did with my sisters.

Looking back at all the lovely Mother's Day post we saw last weekend I wonder how many were truly felt or just thought it was something they were suppose to do?

Like Rae said just continue to take care of your mom. As for your own daughter, she is still young, the card you are looking for will come later.

Unknown said...

This story about your mom and your daughter is so sad, Lily. But you are doing the right thing with your mother. And there is time yet for the relationship with your daughter. My own daughter often says to me that she feels really bad about how she treated me when she was a teenager. I think that's because she now has a daughter of her own and is looking forward to those years with some trepidation. You can only do what you think is right.

Thanks for your comment on my blog. That post was written last night when I was very tired. I've now added your missing link and sorted out the others.

Lille Diane said...

I just wanted to give you a hug. My name is Lille (lily), too. My friends have always called me Miss Lille or Diamond Lil.

I understand the mother thing. I was a foster kid (teen). I didn't have a great natural mom either...but I was given the desire of my heart for the perfect mom for me in a foster mom. There have been other women in my life who have loved me like a mom, too.

Parenting is hard... none of us get it totally right. We do the best we can. I believe you will do the best you can, too, with your daughter. I admire you for caring for your mom now.

I'll keep you tucked in my prayers.

Miss Lille :-)

Mark Kreider said...

I felt that way about my dad and actually hated him for many years after leaving home as soon as I possibly could. Then at age 88 he's has some mini strokes and the onset of dementia and I feel sorry for him. I've managed to put those old feelings in a "drawer" and close it and feel so much better for it! On the positive side, I'm one of 5 boys and we're all crazy about each other. Go figure!