Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Wish You Could Have Known Your Mom

A couple of months ago I had an interesting visit.  I answered a knock on my door to find my mom's best friend from high school.  They've remained friends and I've known her my whole life.  "Tell me what's going on with your mom," she said.

I invited her in.  She proceeded to tell me that last year when they'd had their class reunion she'd tried to contact my mom.  My mom didn't respond and didn't attend the reunion (she's always attended in the past).  She also tried to contact my mom a couple of other times.  I think my dad called her back once and told her that my mom was busy with family stuff and couldn't talk.

She was worried.  She had good reason to be.

My mom is struggling right now.  She has emotional and physical health problems, more so than she used to I think.  She is also trying to save a family member from an addiction.  It's taken its toll.  She is less and less social.  She spends a lot of time isolated in her room.  I don't know that she sees anyone other than family or doctors, except maybe when she's shopping.

I told her friend the story of what was going on.  I admitted that things are very difficult for my mom right now.  I cried a little as I described the current situation.  It's a tough thing to watch and not be able to fix.

Then she said something unexpected.  "I wish you could have known your mom."  It sounds like something you say to someone whose mom died early or was out of the picture for some other reason.  My mom has been in my life the whole time.  But I understand what she meant.

She remembers my mom as vibrant, smart, capable, and social.  I've read my mom's yearbooks.  She was very popular.  She was a cheerleader.  She was an Art Attendant.  She was the editor of the yearbook.  So social.  So involved.

It's not that way now.

The change has been gradual, occurring over many years.  She's definitely not that person anymore.  I wish I could have known her, too.

Sometimes I get resentful that I don't have the mom I want.  I get frustrated that her life is filled with other people, that we are often a second thought.  That since I stayed in my hometown and am not in crisis I am less important than everyone else.  I get frustrated that I can't have a conversation with her and feel heard.  I am incredibly selfish.  I can own that.

I can't imagine how difficult her life is right now.  Partly because I haven't spent much time trying.  Shame on me.

And while I process all of that I also find myself wondering if someone will say the same thing to my children one day.  "I wish you could have known your mom."

I am struggling with my emotional and physical health as well.  I tried to avoid her path and yet here I am.  Following in her footsteps almost exactly.  I don't know how much of it was avoidable.

And I feel bad that my kids don't have the mom they want.  That they feel less important than they are.  That they often don't feel heard.

I hope that who I can be is enough.  And I hope that one day someone does tell them who I was.  That they get to hear stories of the me that they don't remember.  The one who took them to the park and pushed them in the swings.  The one who had picnics in the middle of the living room floor.  The one who taught them to read and color and sing.  The one who nourished their imaginations.  I hope they can remember some of that.

Because I am struggling, too.  I am not the mom I want to be.


Mom Wininger said...

The point is you keep on trying! I don't see you giving up. You just keep on trying!Who is what they thought they would be or who they want to be now? It's all about how we play the game. I think you are doing a fine job. Look at those wonderful kids. Take some credit for that! Mom, you are awesome! You really are!..Love me.....now you can correct all the grammar and spelling. LOL

Bonnie said...

What a kind and fair post, and how heartwarming! You are not following your mother's path, even though some of the scenery may be the same. You are communicating and you are reaching for atonement in your own way, and the imprint of your mothering is written in your children for good. I can't think of a single other person whose children got up as one and bore testimony to their faith. They are all fascinating, engaged people. You are not perfect, and no mother ever has been, and none of us should be beating ourselves with that. I've heard it said that you never really grow up until you forgive your parents, and I think it's true and something everyone has to do. God bless your mom, and God bless you, and God bless your kids. Same for me. We'll make it.

Jessica Grosland said...

I remember.

I really do.

And I'm scared, scared that my health and sanity are temporary and fleeting too. That I will be like Grandma.

But then I remember that it means I would be like you.

And I love you more than words can say.

So that wouldn't be so bad, would it?

Kelly Latour said...

You made me tear up. Your kids are lucky to have someone so open and honest as their Mom. They will grow into adults who are able to express their feelings and will have healthier relationships because of it.
You are still there, and still trying. They can see that!

The Blonde Duck said...

Popped in from SITS! You're too hard on yourself! I'm sure you're a great mom!

Running Circles said...

I want to say something, but I truly can't find the words Robin. It's beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time. It hits home for me on many different levels. Thanks for that perspective. You are definitely in my thoughts.

Lisa said...

Another deeply thoughtful and soulful post. How do you do it? And I love that your daughter reads it and you're okay with it. I (again and again) feel the same way as you. That's not helpful when you feel the way you do... but it's what I've got. Sending love your way!

Pastor Sharon said...

How incredible and amazing that you see the deep picture that goes beyond some things you can't control.

How amazing that your daughter loves and remembers and holds on tight to who you really are.

And in this moment, it is a scary place to be when the feelings of sanity and physical health are temporary.

You are a gift, to your children, to your mother, to your friends and to those of us who read what you have to say.

Your wisdom is very deep and powerful. Thank you

Libby said...

I'm not sure that any of us are the Mum we want to be. I met briefly with my old friend of 38 years (yes really) today. She was off to meet an old Uni friend who has turned into quite the achiever. She said she started to wonder why she didn't do all the study and doctorate until she realised that, as a Mum, she has the toughest job in the world and that is an achievement.

Linda said...

Oh Robin, I am sorry I haven't commented sooner but apparently my blog update took a dive and I only found your new post now.
Regardless, mothers, you can't win for losing with mothers. I think I understand your pain around your mother. Please don't feel guilty. You don't sound selfish--at all--to me. We all want and need our mothers to be there and sometimes they simply aren't, and that is the most painful thing ever.
I think your kids have the mom they want! I base that on my intuition from the things you have written. Please give yourself a break. They love you.
It is sad how life can take its toll, but your mother may come back to her old self yet. I hope so for you.
Please take care of yourself and know you are loved.

Katy said...

Love ya.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

My mom has changed a lot too. I wish she was different, but am glad I still have her in my life.