|Jenni Horne Studios|
I am probably too tired tonight to write, and certainly too tired to write about this, but, I think I will give it a shot anyway.
My brother specifically wanted me to come to Texas to help with getting our mother re-situated in her new place. It's nice, one of those apartment towers specifically designed to house an elderly community.
I don't really think of her as elderly. Maybe that is the first time I have put that word together with her in my mind. She is actually a lot younger then I in my mind's eye. I could probably count the times I've spent with her since I left home for college if I tried to. I have intentionally limited my time with my mom. She has been an incredibly poor guest in my home, decided not to like my husband early on, doesn't remember the names of my children well enough to inquire about them when we do talk on the phone. I used to call her once a week. Now I "visit" with her maybe once a month. I listen to her. That's what our relationship has evolved to. I feel bad about it, but truth is, it suits us well enough. She wasn't particularly fond of me when I lived in her home. And ... from early on I figured out that it must have been something wrong with me. She did help me along to that conclusion by asking me almost constantly, "What is wrong with you." It was a rhetorical question. One that was followed up with a litany of every imaginable flaw. I really thought I was a "bad" kid, a horrible little girl, an awful daughter, and like her, I wondered what she had ever done to deserve me ... because ... I thought she was perfect.
One of the really great things about being her daughter was I really tried to do my best at pretty much everything. And, I did a wide variety of things rather then zeroing in on a group of interests. I think I was always looking for something to excel at that might impress her. The only thing I remember consciously choosing to avoid learning how to do that I would have enjoyed trying was tennis. Tennis was one of Mom's games and she discouraged me from attempting it saying that because I wasn't ambidextrous like her that I would basically suck at it (not her words, ladies certainly don't talk like that). I probably would have played adequately well. Later, by time I got to my mid-teens, I basically stopped trying to please her. That's probably when I started tending to avoid her as much as possible. She seemed to save up her "un-happy" to dump it on me. I felt sorry for her by then, but I was angry with her too. By then I had seen how other mothers parented, and I thought she might have done a bit better by me if she had wanted to. Around that time I stopped wanting to be more like her and started wanted to be nothing like her. Now ... forty years later, I think maybe I am finding some peace with our relationship as I accept that there will never really be peace between us.
Peace. That is why my brother wanted me to come over to help. I was pretty excited about it. I thought it could be a time when my help would really be appreciated by Momma. I really do rock all the homemaker organizational apps. And, fact is, I learned all that from her. My husband says I am practically terminally optimistic. My brother likes that about me, but I think he sees the downside too.
Momma said she didn't want me telling her where to put her stuff. I never would. I really don't like to boss people around at all. He told me that before she did. He told me not to get my hopes up too much. He said he told her that she was really very lucky that DeAnn didn't tell her where she could put her stuff. I never would. She told me later, after we arrived in Texas. I said, "Momma, you really don't need to fret about that at all. I'm not sure who you think I am, but I'm not at all like that, and I never have been. I'm just here to carry boxes up." She was angry about that response, but I realized while I was there that no matter what I said it made her angry ... and if I said almost nothing, that made her angry, and if I moved away from provoking statements without responding at all, that made her really angry. Tommy said he wanted me to spend one last time with her while he was also present. That's why he wanted me to come over. He knew from years and years and years of watching the same dynamics at play that I would try very hard to please her and she would be a stinker. And that is how it went. He said, "Now, for later, when she is gone, I will remind you of exactly how it went this time." He said he doesn't want me spending one second after she is gone wondering what one little thing I might have done differently which would have then (miraculously) made the relationship work. He said, "It is what it is and now it's time for all grown up you to let yourself off the hook with her." He was nudging me in the ribs at church on Mother's Day. She was especially hateful towards me before church ... and I put my sermon notes here to remember the day by. I bet the preacher was wondering why I was stifling laughter during the sermon. It was because my little brother kept on elbowing me for emphasis. He thinks I'm going to have to find peace without her collaboration.
I'm busy searching my soul to make certain that I have really forgiven her. (I am already certain that I love her and I see myself behaving honorably towards her.) Forgiving ... is taking some work. I would rather avoid thinking about it. And, I'm really trying to celebrate the good things that I learned from being her daughter, and there are a lot of them.
I recently noticed that one of my "drivers" in life has been to not be anything like her...
That's what I was talking about the other day when I wrote spend your energy focusing on what you do want rather then what you don't want. It's kinda a no-brainer! Be headed towards something rather then away from something.
I think it's smart to know what you want and head towards that as best you can ... that's my advice to myself.