Sunday, March 09, 2014

Mother Love And Resentment

One of my greatest blessings in life has been my mother. And the fact that I have been able to provide a home for her for the past 15-plus years has been great for her, for me, and especially for my two girls.  They grew up with her love, her stories, her cooking, her humor.

She's 88 now, and still living on the third floor of my house. The doctors say the stairs are good for her, and she has always loved the Far Away And Yet So Close proximity. She calls it her "aerie", an eagle's nest. She's always been independent, was widowed at 52, worked till she was in her 70s. A case of shingles, which attacked her spine, was the first blow to that independence. She was no longer able to walk confidently, had given up her car keys due to hearing and sight problems. Some major and minor health issues. Now she seldom leaves the third floor.

It's so easy to write about the wonderfulness of my mother. The downside is the awfulness of me.
I wonder about my life and how it might have been if I had been mistress of my own house.

I was distanced from that title initially because I worked in the city, commuting by train, bus and foot for thirty years. My husband the artist works out of our home and has always had a far more nurturing and organic approach to life. When I would return from a day of work, I would immediately head for the bathroom to lock myself in and decompress for a while. He would head for the kitchen and see what magic he could toss together. This worked for us through the early years of marriage and kids.

We moved to a big fixer-upper, my mother left her home with her older sister  and moved in with us. Over the years, the main conflicts were when she and my husband stepped on each other's toes in the kitchen.

I'm in my 60s now and this is The Decade of Reflection. I lost my 50s (The Decade of Things Fall Apart) due to depression and have woken up to see how much I've missed. My girls are grown and, while they aren't "settled", they are doing a pretty good job of managing their lives. I no longer work, having discovered I'm not that good at playing with others. I think I've developed a form of PTSD and my brain no longer functions when stressed. Performance anxiety. But I have woken up! I'm re-energized - some days. Until I interact with my mother and am once again in the pit of despair.

She's difficult. She can't hear. She's cranky. And the worst: My beloved and well-meaning brothers bought her a laptop so she could communicate with the world. (The telephone is a problem due to deafness.) However. They bought her a PC and we are Mac people. 100%. Do not know or understand the PC. They bought it, ran through it with her, then left for opposite sides of the country. I have no patience. She wants nachos. I feel bad. She feels bad. I leave.

I retreat to the couch, where I spend FAR TOO MUCH TIME. I'm thinking bad thoughts about how much I suck.  I think of the fact that I've never had my own home. She ran my childhood home and she's still in many ways running this home. And you know what? Her mother did not live with her. She had her own home. And now she's had mine.

Then I think of this space and hope my story resonates with someone out there.
And my husband passes by the door to change her password yet again. With a bag of nachos.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your story. You are a very good writer. Also you took on a lot when you let your mom move in. When she is gone you will not feel any guilt.
I can understand some of what your going through. My parents live behind me. They pay my rent which is very nice. But I feel like I owe them. I try to help them as much as I can. I have my own physical problems but continue to work part time. I also help the lady who owns the home when I can.
I never thought at the age of 50 I would be looking out for 3 elderly people but here I am. Life is really not that bad. I do what I want when I want. I date but I dont have anyone over because My parents would be really nosy. Im not sure if the elderly lady would care but I would feel ackward. So that is the only freedom I dont have. But the other benefits out weight the bad.
So I guess find somethings that are positive about your situation.
Good Luck.

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Anonymous said...

Goodness. Life can be tough there is plenty of misfortune to go around. But you know you could get on amazon and order some Melody Beattie books, such as The
Language of Letting Go and Beyond
Codependency. My husband isn't
responsible for my happiness nor are my children. I am the only
one that can make me happy. If
you can't change your situation
maybe you could change your
thinking. Hope you can find some
relief. By the way I have stuff I
really angry about. I guess that
is being human. j.s.

Anonymous said...

I really hope you keep up your blog. Maybe you're angry and miserable, but you're also hilarious. I don't know if you write for payment/professionally, but I feel you could. The comments are very entertaining/enlightening also. Who knew us Old Crones were so interesting.

Anonymous said...

The purpose of life is learning, growing, and evolving towards love; despite your unhappiness, you are still growing, learning and contributing to other people’s lives and personal growth and that is the purpose of life: learning, growing, and evolving toward love.

Happiness is not the default position of the human existence but one form of existence, albeit a preferable one, but happiness alone does not help humanity to grow to its fullest potential, because humanity grow by the search for happiness and love, and yet, love itself is not happiness but sacrifice. And that’s what you are doing; sacrificing for love, so, congratulation to you, you are on the right path; you are evolving towards love, the ultimate form of existence.

You are evolving in spite of yourself, and that’s the purpose of life; evolving toward love,the ultimate form of existence.

Ali B.