A few months ago, a simple picture of me as a child surfaced and, it surprised me when my psyche shattered into a million broken pieces. I grieved, I gnashed, I wept…for that child, that sweet girl with bright blond hair and a silly grin. I wanted to hug that child and smooth her hair. I’d kind of pushed out all the recollections of that child.
As I’ve mentioned, even recently, if there was ever a “complicated” mother-daughter relationship, ours qualifies.
Last week she called upset because I wasn’t there to pick her up. It was the wrong day. Whether webbing, or threads, crevasses, or loss of too many brain cells…her mind is not the same, she is not the same, as the person I used to know.
She is vulnerable and confused. Sometimes angry. And when she’s happy, she clings to it. So do I.
As a mother, between all the bits she got “wrong,” there was one thing she got “right,” in its way. She cheered on any quest. She believed what you believed. You want to be an artist? Be an artist! You want to run a company? Run a company! You want to live in a stick house? Live in a stick house! If other parents said, “If Johnny jumps off a bridge, will you?” My mother would say, “You want to jump off a bridge with Johnny? Then Jump!”
I assert that love is taught and also has to be practiced; I believe she loved in the ways she knew how.
My mother lived day to day. She grabbed happiness in the tiny, fleeting moments. She turned a phrase in clever ways and was quick with a joke. Bill Murray once sat at the bar she tended, and I imagine she kept up with him without blinking. She could tap-dance with a tray of drinks, and sing about any song you care to mention. She worked hard and helped people to find their smile.
Sharing My Version
Previously when I’ve shared a story or two about my mother, I assumed she would never actually see or read what I shared. And even if she did, these are/were my truths. More than that, she could defend herself, to whoever, if she was so inclined.
But now, my mother, cannot defend herself, or her past, which has become a tangle of memories that she both clings to and, somehow, even creates as she goes, minute to minute. I don’t believe, in good conscience, I could even get her consent to share any story that truly belongs to her, any more.
What of our combined stories are truly mine to share? And when? And what is right? In a human way…
I feel like the universe is calling my bluff.
I’m crappy at being the advocate she needs. In the factual and technical ways (more paperwork! OMG how I hate the paperwork that comes with the caregiver gig!), plus there is not enough time and energy in the till, and on an emotional level, I’m… I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m frustrated.
Will You Still Love Me?
I think my mother is a woman who had children in an attempt to create that one human, that one someone who would/could love her unconditionally. Maybe that child would teach her how to love.
Maybe that’s my failure.
“Will you still love me?
When I got nothing but my aching soul.
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will”
This is heartbreaking and relatable. My relationship with my mother is less than ideal. When I was very young, I think she was good but once my brothers and I were old enough to say “I don’t like ballet” (or whatever), she was angry. We weren’t her versions of unconditional love, or something. I don’t know. I haven’t written SO MUCH because I don’t feel like they’re all my stories to tell, although they also are. I think I still want to please her and don’t want the conversation. I dunno. She came out for a visit recently, and it was the best one in a long time. She brought Tucker her dad’s mining pickaxe (he’s super into being a miner these days) and I really appreciated it. There were still The Things though. One day, I’ll write them, and they’ll be my truths. Hugs, friend.
<3 - Ms
This truly grasps the phrase “painfully beautiful”.