Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Someday, when I'm a mom...

Mother’s Day always finds me deep in thought about my role as a parent.

I know that over the course of Carrie's upbringing I did a lot of things right, but there are definitely things I would've/should've/could've done differently. There have been far too many times when I've lost my temper and said things I regret, and life mistakes I've made that Carrie was forced to bear witness to... Junk like that that's really silly to ruminate about at this point.

Thoughts of the way my mother parented us also flood my mind. I think about how the interactions between us played such an important role in the way I’ve parented my own daughter.

My mom and I went through some rocky times in our early years. I wasn’t a bad kid, really. I was a good student and was respectful to teachers and everyone I knew, but I could be really sassy with my mother. In hindsight I realize that in many ways we were so much alike that we were bound to butt heads, but the main issue was that she was going through a divorce at the age of 34, and I was along for the ride at the age of 15. What I needed at the time she was unequipped to provide, and I suppose she could have said the same about me.

I vowed that things would be different if I ever had a daughter of my own. And things were/are different for Carrie and me – but the fact of the matter is that everything was different for Carrie and me. Our mother/daughter relationship can’t really be compared because my mom had her own unique set of challenges and I had mine.

It might surprise you to know that my mom and I went through times when we didn’t speak to each other for a year or more at a time. In fact, we didn’t speak to each other for a couple of years when Carrie was between the ages of two and four. And just now, when I typed those words, I felt a pang of guilt and sorrow knowing how my mom must have longed for us during that time, yet she and I were both too stubborn to move past our own issues. We lost time that can never be regained.

I can’t say that my mom and I ever completely worked out our differences. I think the more accurate way to put it is that I set some boundaries and she learned not to cross them. I feel a little sad when I think of that – ashamed that maybe she walked on eggshells around me, fearing that a slip of her tongue could have potentially sent our relationship spiraling back to the days of being absent from each other.

When I think of my own shortcomings as a mom (and daughter) I am struck by my harsh judgments toward my own mother. How different things would have been if I hadn’t been so stubborn – how different if I had been more tolerant... All of the “what if’s” pile on top of each other in a big ugly heap, and now that she’s gone there are no do-over’s. And I wonder what kinds of things Carrie aspires to do differently someday, when she's a mom.

I’m a firm believer that everyone does the best they can with what they have to work with at any given time. Knowing that – believing that – makes it possible to find forgiveness for my mom and for myself. The love we had for each other could never be denied, but there were plenty of days when we rubbed each other the wrong way and needed to keep our distance. We were at peace with that many years before she left the planet, so it’s all good, but Mother’s Day gets me every time.

17 comments:

Jo said...

An incredibly moving and honest post. I have the same relationship with my mum and I know that if we didn't have the breaks that we have then things would be a lot worse and we may never talk again. I'm glad that you both found peace x

Susi said...

I think we all have those moments with our Moms. I know my five sisters and I sure have through the years. We all eventually got over it and it was as if nothing ever happened.

Robyn said...

I loved this post, Deb. :)

Fiona@Staring at the Sea said...

A brave post to put out there Deb. I've been lucky to have a great relationship with my Mum, other than a couple of years between 17 and 19. My Dad is the one I have issues with to this day.

Miriam said...

Mothers day always gets me thinking like this, that and mums birthday and the anniversary of the day she died... In my work, dealing with so many endings, I was always acutely aware of 'when they are gone, there are no more answers to all the questions you would like to have asked. Life is so short...but honestly, we can only do what feels right on the day. x

Ruth said...

Like Susi said, we all have our moments with our mothers ~ good and bad.
A wonderfully honest post today, Deb, thanks for sharing.

traci said...

Your words speak volumes for all of us. Your honesty touches my heart. It is hard being either a mother or a daughter at certain times in our lives. Thank you for this post Deb.

Karen said...

I think we all have issues with our mothers and issues with our daughters. A family member is refusing to go to her son's wedding and I think she will regret it for the rest of her life. I think the important thing is, is to realise you have differences and move on. As you said we all do our best at the time and we can do no more x

Karen said...

What a heartfelt, honest post, Deb! I'm quite sure your mother forgave you for any harsh words or actions long ago! I hope your Mother's Day was filled with love.

debs14 said...

I think we can all relate to this very honest post. It is inevitable that there will be friction even in the closest relationship. We react how we feel is right at the time, it is not worth the anguish of wishing you had done something different. I think we all try to learn from our relationships with our mums, try to enlarge the things we loved and do our best to avoid the things that wound us up. No one ever said parenting was going to be easy!

scrappyjacky said...

I think you speak for most of us here,Deb....there are so many things I wish I had....and hadn't....said to my mum.We all have regrets....but we all do the best we can...and different generations will always butt heads a bit.

Sian said...

Yes. Absolutely. Almost everyone does the best they can with what they've got, and I think we know we've grown up when we realise that and start to apply it to what has gone before. I walked across a car park with TSO yesterday - I took her out for some shopping after an exam - and I looked at her and said - when I was your age my Mum couldn't have done that. She couldn't walk across a car park and she couldn't take me shopping. But she did what she could, and to our amazement she's still here doing what she can today.

Lizzie said...

You are so right, Deb and it is touching to read your very honest post.
I can relate to a lot of what you say. My mum divorced when I was 12/13 and it was certainly very hard. She wasn't in a good place and suffered very much from all the stress - prompting some very bad decision-making, which has had an effect on the rest of her life, and much of my own.
But, as you say, she did the best she could and realising & accepting that has helped me (and her) to get along okay. I'm now her main carer and have to give a lot of support, as her health has deteriorated so much in the past 15 years or so and now there is much she can't do for herself. Without the acceptance that she did her best and so did I, the current situation wouldn't be possible.

I hope you have forgiven yourself for the problems with your mum and any hiccups with your parenting of Carrie; you also did the best you could - and you deserve their love.
X

Audrey said...

Oh Deb, I hardly know what to say! This post made me bust out into unexpected tears. It's so beautiful and REAL. I just typed up my own post where I confessed that I've been having a rough go of this parenting gig the last month or so. My Clara is and will always be the challenge of my life, I think....and she's so little....I have such high hopes that it doesn't affect our relationship in a negative way. I have plenty of issues with my own mother but I try so hard to make it good while I can. It never seems easy! I think any mother/daughter combo must have similar issues and I love and admire your honesty and your openness to share with us.... Wish we could share a glass of wine sometime! *HUGS*

S said...

Oh thanks for sharing that. Our relationships with our mothers are always very intense in one way or another - that's something we all can relate to, I think.

Amy said...

Oh for sure Deb, we all do the best with what we have and what we know at the time - how else can we live?!

I am extremely close with my mum and sisters but we all go through stages of change, growth and development ... there was a while there (when I had my two kids) that I truly believed my mum still thought I was 17 - it drove me nuts but I can also see it from her point of view - that's when we are all home and she could care for us and always know where we were.

Beverly said...

Such a raw, honest, unfiltered post, Deb. I have a close relationship with Mama but we can definitely clash. I am so glad that you and Marti found a way for your relationship to work and for ya'll to be close. {{hugs}}

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