Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Missing My Mom

Posted by Anonymous

For better or worse, my mother has always been my best friend. She's always that first phone call I want to make when there's something wonderful or something terrible. She is the first shoulder I run to cry on and more often the person who gently - or not so gently - kicks me in the pants and tells me to get over it.

I was never the little girl who dreamed about her wedding day. I always dreamed of the day I would have my first child. I imagined running over to her house and telling her the great news, asking her to come for ultrasounds, exciting shopping trips and nursery decorating sessions, and most of all, having her in the waiting room, third in line to greet the new arrival.

Of course, life never goes as planned. We live a continent apart. I had to deliver the exciting news over the phone and could only hope that the timing would work for her to be here. A few weeks after my announcement my grandmother had her first "incident". You see, my grandmother is an alcoholic. While it was a bit of a shock to find that college keggers smelled just like grandma, my life was pretty untouched by her drinking. Except where it touched my mother. Which was every where and in every way. And while that's not the point of this, it needs to be repeated that this woman made my mother's childhood and quite a bit of her adulthood unbearable. So I found myself pregnant, far away from family, and my mother's distraction was just beginning.

"Mom, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, I'm freaking out."
-"Your grandmother fell again."
"Mom, I have low-lying placenta, they want to monitor me closely."
-"Your grandmother is calling me 20 times a day."
"Mom, I have gained 75 lbs, I'm miserable."
-"Your grandmother hasn't called me in a week."
"Mom, I have this rash, it's called PUPPS and it's an allergy to being pregnant and I look like a leper."
-"Your grandmother fired the aid."
"Mom, my feet are so swollen I can't walk and they tell me I have this thing called pre-eclampsia."
-"I think we need to put your grandmother in a home."

When I had to go into an emergency induction to have my first son, she did her best to get out here and she arrived a few days after he was born. When she left, I cried. Possibly harder than I ever had in my life. I wanted her to be there with me and guide me through all these new things. I grieved, selfishly, for all that she had missed during my pregnancy. And most of all, I was heartbroken for my son who I knew would miss out on so much with the distance between us. I knew I would lose her to my grandmother again when she got home.

And I did.

By the time I was pregnant with my second son, I again had hope that she would be there. This time home with my older son waiting for the new baby to come home. My pregnancy was far less eventful and she was still just as preoccupied with my grandmother. By this time, grandmother was being moved to an assisted living facility and people were finally listening to my mother about her drinking problems. My grandmother generally hid her drinking well, but it finally caught up with her in the form of "alcohol induced dementia", which means that she now has an excuse when she pretends to forget some of the more awful things she has done. I fully believe that at this point, most people would just walk away. I know I would have. My husband says he would have made me. There is no love lost on either end of the relationship and sometimes I think you need to sever ties with people who are just plain poisonous. But my mother is a God-fearing woman and takes her commandments to heart. She will honor her mother till the end. So she started a regimen of every-other-day visits while spending the off days preparing a long-neglected home for sale.

With my due date at hand, my mother arrived. But again, when does life EVER go as planned? As my due date passed, her departure date arrived. We joked the night before she was to leave that I would have the baby that day. Still, I was surprised to wake up in labor at 3am. At 8am the next morning I was in full swing active labor and my husband and son were in the car taking my mother to the airport. I was fighting contractions, sobbing and making her empty bed. My son was born a few hours later.

I know I'm being selfish. But Goddamnit, having a baby is the time in your life you want your own mommy the most. I feel ripped off. I feel like all the aspects of my pregnancies and births that she missed are somehow less real, the memories less tangible for having not been shared. We'd like more children, and we want to wait a few years, but don't think it's a coincidence if my grandmother dies first. I'd like to say all of this to her, but my mother is a hard woman and would just get defensive and tell me to stop whining. So I'll tell you instead.

20 comments:

SN said...

I don't think you're being selfish. I feel for you. The burden that your mom has had to bear, from her own mother throughout her whole life, it seems so unfair. And it's not fair that those magical sharing moments around your children's births have been missed partially due to this burden that your mom bears. What a remarkable rock of a woman your mom must be, much like yourself... making the bed while you were fighting contractions, how the heck did you do it, woman?

Erica D said...

My mother lives one hour away and she missed the birth of ALL THREE of my kids. Not that she did not try to make them! My first child was an abrupt unexpected c-section, so she missed that. My second child, my doctor sent everyone home from the hospital (except me) late in the afternoon, and went home himself, predicting I'd still be in labor the next morning. My son was born a couple of hours later. So my mother missed that one too. Then, for my third and last child, my mom snatched a (relatively) calm moment and went for a cup of coffee - guess what happened when she was gone... My purpose in this story is not to belittle your feelings, just to try to make you smile. Sometimes your best laid plans don't work even when a large distance isn't a problem!

Jill said...

I don't think you're being selfish at all. I think there is much your mom could have done to help you and take care of your grandma at the same time. My mother in law is having similar problems with the woman she thought was her mother, but learned as an adult was her adopted mother. She is not an alcoholic, but she is mentally ill and has been for a long time, and is now also suffering from Parkinson's and dementia herself. What my MIL had to indure growing up, I can only imagine. And as she deals with her "mother" -- who never acted like much of a mother regardless -- is expensive, time consuming, heart breaking and has sent her into therapy. But for her, her grandchildren are her oasis. I can't begin to understand what your mother has gone through nor what she's going through now, but have you outright asked her to come visit you? To help? Maybe she just needs you to give her that prodding because she is so wrapped up in the day to day that it's hard for her to break away. I don't know. You could have tried all this. But I know from watching someone going through a similar situation as your mother -- from the outside, mind you -- that it can be all-consuming and sometimes they need to be jerked out of the hell they find themselves in everyday.

I hope you and your mother are able to repair your relationship and that she gets to enjoy her grandchildren. Best of luck to you.

katesaid said...

My mother-in-law is a bad enough person that she has made me appreciate my own mother more, and my own mother was already pretty cool.

But I've watched my husband struggle with just how hard it is for his mother simply not to be good enough. Even though she could be - she puts other things (first his alcoholic and abusive father, now her own stuff) ahead of him too often and too hurtfully, and by this point I'm not sure they could ever form a good enough relationship.

It's sad. A loss, truly. Grieve it - you deserve that.

Anonymous said...

You have a husband, two children, and a living mom. It sounds like she's going through hell and you're missing your "mommy"? I know this won't be popular, but maybe you need her to tell you to get over it on this one.

Live never goes according to plan. Embrace it and love every second you get with all of your loved ones.

Anonymous said...

I thought I didn't understand where you were coming from, until I thought about it and realized my mother is not someone I would even tell I was pregnant (with the expectation of someone caring and excited) because she is shut off.

She, too, is from an alcoholic household.

I think I have to look into her situation (alcoholic household) to understand, rather than feel so lonely at the idea of her not really caring (though she will say she does) that I am pregnant.

There are some women who were raised by women but do not have mothers.

For peace, I have to accept this truth.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry your mom wasn't with you when you wanted her. My mom was. I feel lucky. I think you're right to be bummed out about it.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's not about how much people love us. Sometimes it's about what they're emotionally and mentally capable of.

I'm so sorry you had to feel this pain, especially having it associated with the precious and beautiful memories of your children's births.

Remember, too, that children of alcoholics are trained to punish themselves, especially for the benefit of their drunks. Love = pain to us, not warm fuzzy memories and grandbabies.

Here's to hoping that the next kid can't get a break from their grandma.

~hug~

Anonymous said...

Your mother was robbed of a childhood. She has always had to parent her parent. For those of us looking in, we can't see why she's so attached to someone who is so poisonous. But for her, the toxic bond has been there for her whole life. The guilt of doing nothing feels more painful to your mother than the burden of dealing with your grandmother. In her eyes you're fine and grandmama is not. Her attention goes to helping the person who needs it the most. Your grandmother has perfected this leeching strategy. You pay the price and your mother pays the price.

I completely understand how you feel. I've been there and I'm glad I severed that bond so that my kids can have a mother. Thank you, therapy!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to say to you to stop whining, but then I thought about it a little more. My mother is/was an alcoholic and was not the best mother to me. Granted, she hasn't had a drink in over 20 years, but the manipulative behavior never stopped. Now she's almost 85 and is homebound and forgetful and easily confused. The one thing I've done was to make sure that I didn't do this to my kids. In other words, I won't expose them to her more than once or twice a year, and I always put my family first. People think I'm mean because I talk about going to my mother's house as a burden, but it is. I mean, I love her, but I mostly feel guilt and pity. But I still go; just not as much as I think I "should."

Anyway, my point is that yes, you are disappointed that your mom wasn't with you and still isn't. And I don't know that any amount of talking to her and telling her that she doesn't need to visit her mother twice a week will change her mind. I agree with the other commenter; ask her to visit more often. Not just for births.

How far do you live from her? Is there any possibility of your moving back closer to her?

Anonymous said...

I totally understand wanting your mom around when you have children. My mom died when I was 22 and I missed her terribly when my son was born 4 years later.

I hope things will be better if you decide to have another child. Best wishes to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

From Missing my Mother:

Thanks for all the comments, it felt good to get this out.

Yes, I know I'm blessed to have a wonderful husband and two amazing sons, but that doesn't mean I miss my mother any less. I have asked her to come visit, and just this last week she did come (her first visit other than when my children were due) and it was nice. She even noted that it was nice to spend time together where she couldn't worry about making sure that we saw grandmother daily. Hopefully it will be repeated.

We literally live on either end of the country and I'm bound to my end because of my husbands profession. Until my second son was born, I flew (pregnant and with my older son) once a month to go see her. With airfares rising and the threat of having to buy four tickets each time looming, I'm really hopeful that she'll be able to come here more often.

Thanks to all for "listening".

Anonymous said...

*sticks hand up* 'nuther daughter of an alcoholic over here. We should start a club by the looks of the messages. No-one mentioned emotional blackmail, that was my mum's speciality. But even so, I still screamed for her when I was about to give birth.

Now I'm not telling you to stop whining or any such thing before I start, BUT. My mum died when my son was 3 months old. I'd give the world to just have her on the other end of the phone even if she was bitching about someone else. I'd give the world for her to see my next baby born, or to see the son I have growing up. She had so many plans for his childhood and the most she ever got from him was a smile and a giggle.

Instead of mourning what you don't have please, please try to take the positives from everything. One day she won't be here. Everytime she gets to see/ speak to your boys is a blessing. Eveytime you see or speak to her should be full of joy. Make memories to smile about.

CageQueen said...

I don't have any bebes yet but I totally think you're justified. I felt the same way about my own mother and my wedding. My heart aches for you.

Anonymous said...

I think it is hard for those of us who have not truly experienced a mother's love to understand this. I also thought at first that you should just suck it up and be an adult.
But, I was raised by a depressed mother who was raised by my schizophrenic grandmother. Needless to say, we have issues. I was the parental figure in my household and have never ever expected the kind of support you are wishing for. I like to think that it is because I'm fiercely independent (which I am), but it's also because the acknowledgment that I have never and will never have that kind of love can be so incredibly painful at times.
Those of us who were not parented so well have a hard time understanding how good it is on the other side, and how bad you may feel when you have had that love and then don't receive the same level of attention as before.
I would think that the best you can do is give your children the relationship with you that you wish you had with your mother. That's my plan, anyway. Your mom has done so well not to become an alcoholic herself and to raise you so successfully and for that, as I'm sure you know, she deserves your gratitude because that may be one of her greatest contribution to your life. She may or may not be able to overcome her feelings of commitment to your grandmother, as those are deeply ingrained issues, and you can only do so much. I do wish you the best and I hope you will again enjoy your relationship with her someday.

Laura said...

You were in labor and she got on the plane anyway? I say this from a place of privilege where people can afford to change plane tickets, but I would have been devastated. And furious.

My mom tried to pull the "I can't be there until a few days after the baby is born because you're being induced early due to pre-eclampsia, it's just too early in the school year" crap, and honestly even though she ended up coming to town I may never completely forgive her for that.

Princess Hippopotamus said...

My heart truly aches reading this. I just found out I was pregnant two days ago and when I called my mom she wasn't happy. It really broke my heart and I'm hoping she'll come around as my pregnancy progresses because it will ruin me for her to not be happy and excited for me.

I totally feel your pain. I hope you are able to heal and have a full and happy heart no matter what.

Best wishes :)

MG said...

I feel for your mom. She needs time to be her. I understand your need of her and her mother's need of her, but when does she ever get to fulfill her needs?

Anonymous said...

My mom was not emotionally available to my siblings and I when we were growing up or when we were young adults. I don't know what was harder, being a child without a capable loving mother, or being young adult without a mother to share all the good and bad times with. Mom's are suppossed to cherish you. Mom's are suppossed to help you. The following book was written for women who lost their mom when they were young however, it is HELPFUL to any woman who does not have her mom in her life the way she would like to. Read it and see if there is anything in there for you. I found it to be helpful. The one thing we DO get is the opportunity to create with our own children the type of loving supportive relationship we think should exist between moms and kids, and moms and adult kids. We can set our priorities straight for ourselves and our children. Good luck and all the best.


Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss, Second Edition (Paperback)
by Hope Edelman

LazyCrazyMama said...

You are so not being selfish! I would say that most women would like to have their mothers there helping them. My mother was right there when my son was born. But then of course was supposed to stick around for a few days to help out and ended up going home a few hours after we came home with him... she lived an hour away and never visited. With my baby girl, we lived about 8 hours apart. I arranged for her to come up to help take care of my other 2 kids. Spent lots of time making up a room for her so she would feel comfortable... I went a couple of days late and she left the day after I came home. She had a miserable time and hated every moment of it and added so much stress to our household that it was not worth it. She blamed my husband, but in reality - who it got taken out on was me and my children. It was a disaster. It was part of the reason I started my first blog...