Let me preface this post by saying that my mom is still very much alive but our relationship is not what one would hope for with their mom. So – it’s the relationship I miss…
I was driving down the road today and had a silly, random thought pop into my head. The kind of thought I know that, if I called my mom, she’d laugh with me – then I’d laugh at her laughter and we would quickly both be in tears. The good kind.
But I can’t do that anymore. I had to make a choice – try to preserve my relationship with her – or my own sanity and self-respect. It may sound selfish – but I won.
Let me be clear – I have NO doubt that my mother loves me very much. I have not often questioned that fact. (I could say never but that would be lying.) I don’t question that the things she says and does she believes arise out of that love. I am sure that (for the most part) she wants them to help. They don’t. They didn’t when I was 11; they didn’t when I was 16; they didn’t in college – or when I got married or divorced, or…and they don’t help now.
So, I’m done. I’m not mad, or bitter or vindictive or vituperative – I’m just done. I am disappointed – and I am hopeful.
My mother is a very loving, opinionated, unyielding, thoughtful woman who sees most everything in black and white. You all know the type…if she loves you, she believes that you are entitled to her opinion but, more importantly, you are obligated to act on that opinion and/or advice or you haven’t listened to her, don’t respect her and are doing the wrong thing – or the right thing the wrong way.
That sounds harsh. Let me reiterate – I have no doubt that she doesn’t MEAN to be cruel. But her words and actions often exhibit cruelty – intended or not.
But she’s my mother, people say. You’ve GOT to maintain a relationship with her. That very thought has held me prisoner and subjected me to continued personal attacks for years. And yes, I’ve tried for years in countless different ways to help her understand that I DO love her. I DO respect her, her years of experience, the fact that she’s my mother. Each time, she seems to understand – for a short period of time – and then the cruelty reappears.
I have untold respect for her – she stayed when my father didn’t. She raised us with little to no help. Her life has been hard. I understand and respect those facts.
And NONE of that changes the fact that I am not her. I choose to live my life in ways which she cannot understand. Will not understand. Does not WANT to understand.
To paraphrase something I read recently, “Sometimes you have to walk away, not because you hate that person but because you love and respect yourself.”
That’s how I feel about my mother. The consistent negativity and harsh criticism – of me, my weight, my parenting, my husband, my life choices is more than I can bear and maintain my equilibrium. I have made some awesome physical strides in my life. The barriers I’ve conquered spiritually and emotionally are higher than anyone can imagine. I cannot maintain forward momentum in the presence of unsupportive people. Further – my son is old enough to see what is happening. It is not healthy for me to allow myself to be treated poorly. If I allow it to continue, it will; it has for 44 years. The last thing I want to model for him is unhealthy behaviour. It’s my job to show him how to stand up for himself.
So, I’m done. I’m not mad. I’m not being mean or vituperative – or even particularly pointed. I’m just done. I have my son call her when he asks or when he should. I make sure I copy her on the photos and information about him and his activities. My life is off-limits.
But – I miss my mom. The mom who taught me about putting shaving cream under door handles – and laughs with me about 2nd grade humor (What’s under there? Under where? HAHAHAHAHA I made you say underwear! – Seriously, neither one of us could talk for 20 minutes we were struggling to breathe through the laughter!). THAT mom. The one who doesn’t see my fat; who doesn’t judge my decisions; who doesn’t think or tell me that I’m a bad parent – especially in front of my son. I miss that mom – I’m hopeful that I’ll get her back one day but in the meantime, I can’t have one without the other so I guess I will laugh at my random, silly thoughts by myself…my much healthier self.