My mother. What can I say?
She’s a great cook. She always, when we were living with her, made us dinner and we had to eat around the table together. She also always played music during dinner time. I’m grateful for that. It’s a tradition I still do with my own children.
But then also, growing up, she never was really a part of our lives. Once she married my dad, she didn’t work. She also didn’t attend any of my sister’s athletic events, never went to our schools to talk to our teachers, didn’t get to know our friends, never took us to the park, and never really encouraged us.
In fact, since I was a really, really shy child and was not very athletic, the only extra curricular activity I wanted to do was dance. And when I went to the first of many lessons and was scared or nervous and told her my mom I wanted to quit, she was only too happy to oblige, knowing she would no longer have to drive me. And then when I did stick out one whole season of dance and my family came to my recital, she told me I had the grace of an elephant.
It’s no wonder for years I’ve had pent-up anger toward her. But then, a few years ago, I realized that I could not change my past, could not change my mother, and I had to just get over it.
So much easier said than done. But I do try, though as an adult, it’s become more difficult.
I’m a single mom, I’ve got two kids, I work full-time during the school year, and while I love my life and I always try to make the best of everything, I have to admit that there are times I seethe with jealousy at my friends’ mothers. Many of my friends have amazing mothers, who are now, like my own mother, grandmothers. These amazing women help with their grand kids constantly, support their children, and are there emotionally for both.
My mother. Nope, not her. She had called twice in the past three years to ask how I am doing (and except for the last year, she has lived 20 minutes away from me). If I don’t call her, then the only reason she will call me is to speak with Maddie or ask me a quick question. While she does offer to take Maddie every once in awhile, she never offers to help with Luke and if I ask her, like I did a few weeks ago, to watch Luke for 20 minutes while I ran to the store to buy a printer, she will, of course, but she will act SO put out.
And lately she’s taken to stating that she just feels “a special connection to Luke.” So, since she was going to be in town for a few days, and she’s been claiming to be upset over Luke being miserable in pre-school, she offered to pick him up early today, so he wouldn’t have to be there so long.
I could barely contain my surprise and excitement at her offer.
Then last night when I asked her what time she was going to pick up Luke, she said she had much to do and couldn’t get him until 3:15. Considering I can pick him up at 3:30, I didn’t see how this would be much help to me or him. And I told her this. When she clamored on about how she had things to do in the morning, I just told her to forget it, I would pick Luke up. To which, and I swear I’m not making this up, she yelled at me: “Why are you making me feel guilty? Why is everything always about you?”
To which I replied, “Because I’m a single mom, I have two kids, I work 60 hours a week, Luke is miserable in preschool, I have no help, so I guess, IT IS ABOUT ME.”
She reluctantly agreed to pick him up at 11:30.
I didn’t mean to lose my temper, and I really don’t think the world revolves around me, but my mom had been here since Sunday morning, and during her time here she ran to my sister’s house to see Luke for 10 minutes on Monday, and then made the family dinner on Wednesday night and saw the kids for less than two hours, and to top it all off, didn’t call me once when she was here, knowing full well that this was my first week back to working full time and that I could have used some help. I even had to call her to ask if she was still interested in picking up Luke.
Furthermore, my mom doesn’t work, have a hobby, volunteer, or maintain any social networks. As in, everyday is open for her.
By the time I was driving home last night, I was so angry with her, I was boiling.
Then this morning, I made a decision. When I returned from work and saw her, I was going to tell her how I felt and let her know that I no longer wanted a relationship from her. Of course, she could see her grand kids, but, I’m sorry I’d tell her, we are finished.
But once I returned from work, and took Luke with me to run a bunch of errands, and then came home and made dinner for the kids and my mom, who sat reading a magazine on my couch, I thought: What’s the point? We already don’t have a relationship. She’s the one missing out on the beauty and life of her grand kids, and hey, I’m awesome too and she’s missing out on that. Why make everything worse by telling her the truth, the truth from my point, at least?
So I decided to keep my mouth shut. To let the anger subside as much as I could. To realize that I have fantastic surrogate mothers all around me that I can look to for love, understanding, and advice.
So tonight, I’m thankful for my friends’ Denise and Katy because they have moms who have been wonderful to me in the past and I know will be wonderful to me in my future. I’m thankful for my sister who helps me just as if she was my mom. I’m super thankful for my Aunt Linda who often has been more like a mother (albeit, a bit of a wacky mother) to me than my own. I’m thankful to all the friends I have who show me how a great mother should be when I watch them with their kids. And I’m thankful for Luke and Maddie because each time I look at them, they provide a constant reminder that I will always help them in any way I can, that I will always call them even if they piss me off, that I will show them love, and that I will honor, respect, and encourage them in whatever they do.
And I’ll take them to the park, go to every sporting event, get to know their teachers, really get to know their friends, and tell them they’re beautiful whenever I see them dancing.