It's My Turn

It's always a great Mother's Day here. Mr. Handsome and the kids make sure of it every year. But this year, I was less than happy, and I even cried. Par for the course for me these past few months. Crying jags for no reason. If I didn't know better, I would think I am either pregnant and full of raging hormones, or an angst-ridden teen. Of course, I am neither. I'm just sad.

Every year, I get a wonderful breakfast, full of fresh fruit, omelette, coffee or tea, and lots of love. The kids make me lovely gifts, Mr. Handsome gets me beautiful flowers, and I love being enveloped in all that love. A lazy day ensues, sometimes doing nothing but reading books and hanging out, most times visiting the Canada Tulip Festival and enjoying the amazing spring breezes and music that greets your ears as you walk. A feast for the senses. We often end up getting fudge at the festival, and we eat it all, out of the little paper bags it comes in. And then we go home, have a wonderful dinner that Mr. Handsome prepares, and we bask in the light that is our family.

We didn't go to the festival this year. It was bloody cold, cold enough for us to pull out our winter coats, and in the end, no one really wanted to leave the warm, cotton comfort of our home. So, we stayed indoors and played on the Wii, and read the newspaper, and stirred the big pot of chili Mr. Handsome had on the stove all day long.

Despite it all, I had many crying jags this Mother's Day, away from my family, hidden in my bedroom. My daughter's harsh tongue started it. And I know my daughter doesn't mean any of it when she lashes out at me and says the nasty things she says, but it still hurts. Bad. Her emotional range is as bad as mine, and probably worse. Being 14 years old is hard stuff.

So is feeling like you've done nothing much with your life. And here I am, at 46 years of age, dangling between working as a writer again, or working at the nearest Tim Horton's. Because, goddammit, enough is enough with being a parasite on this family. Although Mr. Handsome keeps telling me I am anything but. But that is how I feel, and there's no denying it.

I start the swirling whirling downdowndown in my mind, where I go quite often these days, and start feeling all those bad feelings about what a bad mother I am, even though I know I'm not. But when you are told this over and over again, through much of your life, it kind of gets stuck in your craw and rears its ugly head when you least expect it.

Then, my mind went to times with my own mother, who
passed away in March. I did not have a "normal" relationship with my mother, and for the most part, it was pretty awful. And as I thought about it, and about how I haven't really been terribly sad about her passing, I got much more melancholy, feeling guilty about my lack of feelings, feeling awful about the finality of death, and wishing it wasn't so, because I wasn't ready for the fact that having a relationship with her will never happen. Ever.

I had thought that I had resolved my feelings over our relationship, and that I was okay with it all. I believed that I had gone through the grieving process ten years ago, because that is when I decided I could no longer have a reasonable relationship with her. It took a long time for me to feel okay about it, and although it wasn't a perfect solution, it was much better this way.

But apparently not. Apparently it was far from resolved. Because when I least expect it, thoughts of my mother pop up, and the feelings well up in my chest, and I feel like I'm going to explode. I have split-second moments of these feelings, and a sudden feeling of utter fear, and then I'm okay again for awhile.

Mr. Handsome's youngest sister called on Sunday. She lives in western Canada, far from family, and she wanted to call and say hi, and wish me a Happy Mother's Day. Very thoughtful. Our hour-long talk finally wound its way around to my mother, and I told her how I was feeling, and how I felt rather helpless about it all.

And she had something very wise to say. Something that made so much sense to me. She told me that I can now make the relationship with my mother into what I want, not what I was forced to have for most of my life. I can now treat my mother with the respect, the dignity, the love I've always had for her, but was never allowed to give her. Because everytime I tried, I was shot down, and reminded that I was nothing but "a piece of dirt", as she so often told me.

But now ... Now I can be in control, and talk to her, and let her know that I am sorry for the life we had together, and how I wish it would have been so different, and that I always loved her, and always will love her, and that I forgave her many years ago for everything, but that she never forgave herself, and didn't know how to love, and that was the crux of the problem.

My arms are now free to hug my mother, and to give her gifts of love, without the fear of knowing that my gifts will be rejected. I don't need my armored wall anymore. Because now it's my turn.


mo.stoneskin said…
That's wise advice. From my own experience with very difficult family we've learnt we have to set boundaries and take control.
Gaston Studio said…
Agree with MO that the younger sister gave very wise advice and perhaps offers some hope for future Mother's Day celebrations if you choose that route.
Soxy Deb said…
Oh Mary. The sadness your feeling sounds like a tidal wave that can pull you under if you let it.
I hope you can take some of that very wise advice from you SIL and put it to use.
Anonymous said…
A wonderful, honest and transparent muse, Mary. Your sister-in-law's wise words are a blessing indeed.
melissa said…
oh honey. i'm so sorry you're so sad! i have to say, i relate to how you are feeling as a mother and to where you are in your life. i'm right there with you, to the point of depression.
your sil...her advice...incredible. and i hope that you can use it and find some peace.
It sounds like you are getting stronger already! You have a very smart SIL! She said just what you needed to hear.
Don't worry about your "angst-y" daughter....this stage will pass. My middle daughter, Jess, went through 1 day of angst with me (several days with someone else), but it passed. You're a great Mom, don't ever think otherwise. 14 really is a difficult age (so is 46). Everything will settle back down soon, I feel certain!
Have a wonderful day Mary~
Snapping Blabber said…
Hugs, Mary. Relationships with parents and children can be volatile. Connections are so powerful, that its probably inevitable.
Teens are hard on anybody, especially on themselves. It too shall pass.
Having had a toxic parent I used to believe that all other families were like the Brady Bunch. As I got older I discovered that many shared my difficult upbringing. I am not sure that this made things better but it did make me realize that as an adult I now shaped my own life and could put the unfortunate things that happened to me when I was small behind me.

I hope this next year will bring you contentment.
Crazy Mo said…
You have a very wise sister-in-law. This is also an opportunity to create the relationship with your daughter that you never had with your mother. I had a horrible relationship with my mother until I finished high school. I cringe when I think of the things I said to her. But once I finished high school and started post-secondary and worked, somehow it all changed. And we became good friends. And that's how I think of her now. She's not just my mom, she's a good friend.
ReformingGeek said…
It's OK to feel. Acknowledge the feelings then move on. Good Luck with your daughter. I remember myself at 14 and it wasn't pretty. I was not very nice to my mom.

Take care!
Expectations and holidays are a time bomb, waiting to explode. My Mother's Day sucked. Period. But, I'm moving on just as soon as these damn clouds clear!
pam said…
I am sorry, Mary.

Sending hugs your way.

Aw *hugs*.

I think we all know what it's like with difficult family. And it sounds like you're working through it.
ettarose said…
Mary, it is as if I wrote those words. I know sometimes we wonder if we will get through it and somehow we do. My grown children hate me. I have dealt with the guilt as good as I could but even with my growth and knowledge the guilt never goes away. Was I a good mother? Probably not the best but not the worst either. I wish the book that comes with a childs birth had not been lost with mine.
Deb said…
ugh. this is such a difficult post to read. after yet another showdown (2 actually) with my mother last weekend, i have been toying with the idea of ending any kind of relationship with her whatsoever. it's so complicated, and it is clear that i won't get the "meeting me 1/2 way" that i would like, but am i really in a position to demand that of a 70 year old woman? but why the hell can't i?

you are lucky to have such an amazing husband and kids. and yes, 14 can be hell. especially if you are female. at least with my teen boy, i just have to listen to a million inappropriate jokes all day. no angst, just potty talk.
Lauren said…
I'm sorry you are hurting so. I'm glad you had a safe place to share this. You are NOT worthless or dirt or whatever that comment was. Being a mom is the hardest job on this earth. 14 year olds can be evil. I probably told my mother I hoped she died a million times. It's my worst nightmare at my age! She'll come around. In fact if she's talking to you that way you're probably doing it right!
Ask Mom to come in dreams so you and she can talk it out. Be at ease, Lauren
Anonymous said…
I know just the thing to cheer you up. I will come over and sing 'Muskrat Love' to you.

Lynn said…
Can I just say what sound advice that was. My sister passed away one year ago at the end of May from alcoholism and I struggled with that relationship my whole life. I have been feeling sad about not taking her last phone calls, or not reading letters I've had in my drawer for the pain it's going to bring up. I also lost my Mother when I was 14. It wasn't ideal but I was still young enough to be able to make that into the relationship I needed in her passing. It's a two way street and when someone passes away doesn't make them innocent of the things they did while they we're here. Someone told me that when my Father died and we hadn't spoken in months. It helped tremendously not to take on all the blame because of death. My Mother's day had many tears as well.

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