Friday, July 17, 2009

My Mom and Me

My Mom and I have been at odds over something or other most of my life. It seemed to me that I could never do anything right. Or not right enough for her. No gift I gave her as an adult suited her, either, it seems, (she often gave them back telling me she didn't want them, maybe she just meant she had no use for them? or place to display them?) but when we were clearing out her house so it could be sold, we discovered a collection of the things I made for her in kindergarden and the early grades.

I've heard it suggested that we butted heads so often because we are very much alike. I don't know if that's true. I'd rather it weren't, thank you very much. I do not want to make my daughters feel the way she made me feel.

I'm sure she loved me. She read to me when I was sick, she came to the hospital and stayed at my side when I had my tonsils out. When I was in kindergarden, we were supposed to tell our parents that we could come in costume for Halloween. I forgot. Mom walked me to school, and when I saw all the costumed kids, I refused to go in. She asked what the matter was. I must have explained, because we walked back home, cobbled together a costume from a kitchen apron and the headpiece with bunny ears from another costume, and I went as Mrs. Rabbit, Peter Cottontail's mother.

I was a disappointment to her in many ways. I was only one child, when she wanted a gaggle of younglings at her feet. As I grew up, I turned into someone who wasn't the daughter she wanted. I didn't follow her plan of college, graduate school, a career in science, and then a family. I rebelled. I fell in love with the guy who sat down next to me in Latin class, and told such interesting stories. I married him and dropped out of college. We had kids together. He left me. I have to hand it to Mom that she never said, "I told you so," when I called to let her know he was gone.

As adults, we got along better living far apart. Any time my parents visited for more than three days, my Dad had to referee. I remember one visit when, after my parents left, I couldn't find the can opener. My daughters told me Mom had found it where I kept it, and muttered that it didn't belong there, it belonged in the OTHER drawer, and they watched while she rearranged a variety of things in my kitchen to suit herself.


Julie said...

Ann I can so relate to this post. My mother is a constant source of anguish to me. I am having lunch with her in one and a half hours and I am already running through ways to keep her at bay.
I wonder if we will ever resolve things. Did you come to a place of peace with your mum?

Ann of the Incredible Gift said...

Not for many years.

After my father died, our relationship improved some, but it was still pretty rocky.

She had surgery for breast cancer when she was 90, and after the intermediate care, she moved "temporarily" into assisted living because she didn't want to go home alone, didn't want home care aides, and didn't want her granddaughter who had trained as a CNA. Granddaughter had volunteered to leave her job and move in with her grandmother to care for her as long as she was needed. Mom suggested that ~I~ could move in with her. I said no.

I discovered she was having dementia issues, and arranged to have the bank deal with her bills.

She had a fall, and suffered a bleed to her brain which was not diagnosed right away. The doctor at that institute said her cancer had moved to her brain. She was shifted back to intermediate care, and I finally convinced her to move to a residence closer to me.

Once she was there, I was able to visit her almost every day. I did her laundry and brought her treats. She got to meet her great granddaughter.

One night I was helping get her set for bed, and asked if she would like me to tuck her in. She said yes, so I did. I pulled the covers up, kissed her on the cheek and said, "I love you." She looked at me for a minute, and then said, "Thank you."

It was an odd sort of moment, but I think that is when she finally accepted me as I am.

Suzie said...

Thank you for emailing me. This post sounds so much like my mom and her dad. And then in turn my mom and my sister. My sister blamed my mom for everything wrong in her life and even when my sister was dying of cancer she couldn't let my mom in. My mom desperately wanted to be forgiven. I lost a brother-in-law and a sister to cancer in 2005 it changes my outlook on life and how I choose to live it. Being happy and forgiving is much better on a person's soul.