I Don’t Get It and Apparently, Neither Does She.

August 29, 2008

I really don’t get what happened between my mother and I that made our relationship the way that it is now.  It didn’t used to be like this.  I had the mother that everyone wanted.  The mother you could say anything to.  She has always been overprotective but I am an only child so I have always just lived with that.  She was fun and funny and sweet and thoughtful.  She was Blythe Danner to my Gweneth Paltrow.

I can time the change to when we decided to move to North Carolina.  She was born and raised here but had lived for the last 35 years in California.  I was born and raised in California and had lived there for all of my 27 years.  I was ending a long relationship, September 11th happened, and I was not happy where my career was going so I decided to relocated to North Carolina where I have family – you know, take a chance and make a change.  My mother came too.

I think she thought that we would get a house together and live there until we were old and gray – some modern day version of “Mama’s Family.”  Except that I had lived my own for 10 years up to that point.  I didn’t call if I was going to be late, paid half the rent and utilities and bought groceries.  We lived together for about a year, during which time we fought all the time.  About 6 months into it, I met my husband.  Six months after that, we moved in together and got married 2 years later.  I don’t think she has ever forgiven me for leaving her.  It is because of that, I think, she has become very bitter and does and says very hurtful things.  She’s not happy about anything that I do.  Come to think of it, I don’t think she’s ever happy at all.

For example, my mother did not help me plan my wedding.  She had no interest at all.  I asked her to help me with the centerpieces.  I wasn’t looking for her to pay for them, just get me glass vases, rocks, sand and a candle for each table and I would reimburse her.  Nope, she didn’t do it and about a week before the wedding I had to come up with plan B (the town I lived in didn’t have anyplace to buy things like that – it was the Outer Banks of NC, very remote).  She didn’t help set up the reception.  My husband and his family did the whole thing.  I asked my mother to get sodas for the reception and she sent my cousin Susan to do it.  The day of the wedding, I asked her to take the corsages and boutonnieres to family members and take the marriage certificate to the minister and she dumped it off on my sister in law.

When I found out I was pregnant, hubby and I decided to tell one person each until the pregnancy was a little further along.  He told his mom and I told my cousin Jen.  Actually, Jen already knew because I freaked when the pee stick was glowing a big, bright positive.  The next day, I was supposed to have corrective eye surgery and turns out, you can’t if you are pregnant.  So despite the fact that I was minutes or maybe days pregnant, I didn’t get the surgery.  My mother repeatedly asked me “why”? So finally I broke down and said, “well, because I am pregnant!”  Her answer?  A long, long uncomfortable pause and then she said, “well, I don’t really know how I feel about that.” 

WHAT? Excuse me? Hold the boat here?  YOU don’t know how YOU feel about that?  This from the woman who doesn’t think that you have any sort of value unless you have children.  This from the woman who has made me feel like a second class citizen because my cousin and his wife have “babies who are just so sweet.”  This is the same woman who whined at my rehearsal dinner that hubby’s mom has “two grandbabies and I don’t even have one!”  So I said, “well, you have 9 months to get used to it” and hung up.

Now you all know that my life went into a tailspin right about the end of Febraury.  Hubby and I had to go to Philly in hopes of saving my babies lives.  My mother was sick with shingles.  Shingles are very bad for pregnant women so we told her to please, please, PLEASE, stay away.  And she did but she has always been angry and bitter that my father and hubbys’s mother were there at the hospital with me. 

When we came home from Philly with only one baby and she insisted on coming to visit that weekend since her shingles were all cleared up.  I was exhausted and supposed to be on bedrest and let me add, not up to visitors.  Visitor? You say, that’s not a visitor, that’s your mother.  Oh no, when my mother comes to visit, she expects to be waited on.  We make the meals, take her to dinner, drive her to go shopping, clean up, everything.  All she has to do is sit on the couch and watch TV with her dog.  I could not expect my husband to wait on her and since I was on bedrest, I could not wait on her.  But she came anyway and played a very passive-aggressive game of “oh-I’m-not-going-to-eat-anything-because-I-don’t-want-to-put-you-out…It’s-an-imposition,-me-being-here.”  My answer was, “well, yes, right now, it is, but you wanted to come and I am happy to see you but you are diabetic and if you don’t eat, you will be sick.”  We did this for 3 days.

So I was laying down for my second shift of 10 hours mandatory bedrest and she came in and said, “you know, this has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me.”  My cold, bitchy heart melted and I said, “oh Mom, it’s going to be okay.”  And she said, “I know, the shingles are gone and I hope I never get them again.  You have no idea how painful it was and no one to take care of me!” 

She was talking about the shingles.  Not the death of her grandson.  The shingles.

Tuesday: my conversation with my mother about future pregnancies.

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4 Responses to “I Don’t Get It and Apparently, Neither Does She.”

  1. Frances Says:

    aw hell no. Wow I think she and my mom would be Best of Friends. I’m determined to never be like that towards my daughter. You are a noble and brave woman for putting up with it as long as you have.

  2. KB Says:

    I hope this is OK to write this looong comment on your blog. I’m away from my home e-mail now but I want to let you know that I can relate.

    OMG – that is SO frustrating and I am sorry that she isn’t what you want and need in a mother.

    When we first met you said, “You are my people” and whenever I read your blog I think, “YOU are MY people!!!” My mom doesn’t get stuff either. I can’t stand her looooong, silent pauses – they are sooo loong and painful. Where did they learn that? My mom is determined to out sad me – meaning her sorrow always has to be greater than mine. My therapist said this is called and “eclipse.” And then when I call her now to talk she can’t accept my days of hopefulness. She’s still too busy feeling sad for herself and her loss. She’ll say “I am so sad b/c you are so sad and have to go through this” and I’m like, “But I just told you 10 things to be positive about!” Arrrghhh… Maybe our moms should move in together and they can “not get it” together. I was the same as you in that I didn’t let my mom visit when I was in the hospital or on bed rest. She wasn’t helpful for me then and I didn’t want to see anyone anyways, esp her. It was hard being on bed rest. I don’t know if others actually understand just how difficult tbed rest was. It was exhausting.

    The thing I have to ALWAYS tell myself is that she is just doing the best she can. Even though I feel mad like, “Why can’t she do better – for me – I’m her only daughter!!??”

    Deepak Chopra has this meditation CD with this very beautiful track, “Heart Meditation” on forgiveness and miracles. I think it is derived from “A Course in Miracles.” He says, “Everyone is doing their best from their state of consciousness” and “I let go of all regrets, resentments and grievances – I choose the miracle” or something like that. So I listen to this forgiveness meditation 3x a day now if I have to. While mom isn’t what I want her to be for me, being mad at her just makes me feel bad about me.

    Although, sometimes we do just need to Get It Off Our Chests a little bit, don’t we! Thank you for sharing – I had a couple challenging “mom days” this week and reading your blog helps me not feel so lonely in it. There is nothing wrong with US b/c our moms are challenging.

    PS I have a mother-in-law that is actually less helpful than my own mother. My mom did minimal for my wedding, but my mother-in-law actually yelled at us for the month prior and then she made a scene at the rehearsal. She always has to outdo everyone and everything is always about her. She kind of makes me feel grateful for my own mom. So I listen to that meditation CD at least 6x when I have to interact with both of them at any one time. I think it is helping. 😉

    Something else I’ve been thinking is that in this time when I am not being a mother to my baby like I thought I would be – is that I’m learning how to be the mother that I always wanted and I’m doing a little mothering to myself. I want to be a mommy so badly – why not practice on me, right.

    Keep writing! I’ll be interested to read your conversations about future pregnancies.

  3. KB Says:

    Oh, and another thing – did I tell you how grateful to you I am for saying that my baby is an awesome older sibling? I just love that and have been keeping it close to me every day. Thank you SO much. I wouldn’t have thought of that without you and it is SO helpful to me right now to think of her in this way. It didn’t feel like you were using a platitude – it just feels really very good. Thank you.

  4. pretendmomma Says:

    Wow. I am so lucky to not have to deal with that right now. I am so sorry.


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