After my recent Mother's Day post about my mom, I had a short email from the gumbo maker herself:
I was embarrassed by your blog because you left out all the negatives, but I am very pleased by the bottom line.It's not the first time my mom has made a comment to me about how I ignore the negatives in my upbringing here on my blog. So, of course, I thought I'd drag it all out into the Blogosphere. Because who doesn't want to read about my dysfunctional life?
Wish I could go back and do it better.
We all just do the best we can.
Bottom line, kiddo, is you turned out great.
Lest you all think that my relationship with my mom has been all music, light, and harmony, let me assure you that it has not. My mother and I are more alike than I would ever admit while growing up, and that caused some problems. We're both stubborn, opinionated, aggressive when we feel we've been wronged, and did I mention stubborn? I should probably emphasize the stubborn part.
In fact, my mom and I stopped speaking for months at a time on more than one occasion. In fact, between the Summer of 2002 and the Summer of 2004, we hardly spoke at all. That particular fight began over some political joke that I made, which my mom took personally. I, of course, thought that she was completely overreacting. My family is full of drama queens. Except, of course, me. I am always completely rational. Completely. I have my INTJ badge to prove it. Yep. Totally rational here.
I didn't realize until recently that the fight my mom and I had in 2002 wasn't really about politics at all. It was about my mother feeling that she wasn't important to me anymore. That her feelings weren't important to me anymore. And I stubbornly asserted my independence, not really understanding what or why I was pushing away.
We were drawn back together when I finally let my family know what was going on in our attempts to start a family. I was in pain and I needed family to listen. And then with the happy news of Hollis, our relationship began to mend. My mom and I still regularly butt heads, and we probably always will. But it's different now.
I've been in that dark place that motherhood can take you to. I've felt the wonderful, sleep deprived adrenalin highs. And I've watched my own heart smile at me, sweetly sigh in sleep on my husband's chest, roll over, take those first wobbly drunken steps, and say "mama." Twice.
What I've tried to tell my mom in response to her comments is that the mistakes she made just don't seem all that important anymore.
I understand in a way I couldn't while growing up. I understand why sometimes she was depressed or short with us. I understand why we didn't always have an immaculately clean house like some of the Stepfords did. (OK, now I can see my mom wincing and thinking, "Did you have to tell them that? Did you?") I understand why she pushed me so hard. I understand why she was so protective.
My mother loved me. She loved me and my brother more than anything in the world. She did the best she could.
You're right, Mom. We all just do the best we can.
And you did a pretty damn good job.