You probably already figured this was gonna be a downer post, and your intuition would be right. Read at your own discretion, because there’s a lot of introspection–or attempted introspection–going on.
I haven’t heard from or said a word to my mother since July. One rabid, ranting phone call that began okay and then had us screaming at each other faster than a drag racer can cross the finish line and that was it. I wondered if something would pop up later, but when my birthday went by and there was no card, no phone call, and then hers went by with nothing from my end (and her not calling to complain about it), I figured we were on the outs. And when Christmas came by with nothing, not even a card, it solidified it. I haven’t checked my Facebook in almost a year and should probably just get rid of the damned thing, so if there’s anything on there, I likely missed it.
From what I understand, she’s not on there anyway, so no updates from her that way.
This is the part every time where I’d have someone go “you only have one mom and she’s not gonna live forever. You should make amends.” Yet I’ve never had anyone able to explain to me why, if I’m her only child, I should have to make all the amends when she’s never thought she was wrong or apologized for anything.
It’s not a moral high-ground thing or one-upmanship thing; it’s not wasting your breath when you know nothing will change for the better.
I always wanted to learn from people. I tended to always defer to my elders because it made sense to: they had more life experience. But over time, as I grew to learn more myself, and as our society began to dig trenches and create opposing truths that fit with their interpretations of restricted facts, I’ve been MUCH less inclined. I’ll still listen if someone offers a source or personal experience or something, make a note to check it out (and if it’s highly offensive, I’ll try VERY hard not to lash out in reflex). It grew harder to defer to my mother, because she always complained about the same things and as I grew to learn more, I realized she was stuck with the same views, even when presented with other information.
What makes this Mother’s Day weird to me is not just the fact that I think it’s a crap holiday meant for the mother (pun intended) of all guilt trips and to keep flower shops in business, but also that I’m on the outs with my mother, and I don’t really feel anything about it. I think I’ve mentally and emotionally felt like an orphan for so long that knowing that I’m alone in my life and not talking to family doesn’t mean much. I mean, we might as well be dead to each other at this rate, and for all I know, I am dead to her because I don’t think and feel the way she does, and some of that last conversation clinched it in her mind.
I always felt lonely in the relationship we had, like I had to please her and keep my own opinions out of things or else she’d be mad or hurt. After 30+ years of walking on eggshells, I just got too damned tired to keep it going.
My dad kept me a dependent child in many ways; my mom used me for emotional validation.
I think way down deep in the 9th circle of my own personal hell, I might feel a bit bad about not speaking to my mother. Maybe a twinge that things don’t have to be this way. But honestly, I think it’s because we’re hard-wired and conditioned to care for the ones who gave birth to us more than any sense of loyalty. Like saying “I love you” as a closing response, without a bit of emotion or inflection, but worse than that because you don’t even want to say it.
I don’t think I even know what love is, anyway, so saying it might make someone feel better, but it just makes me miserable because it feels like a lie. How can I say something that I don’t understand? I can’t lie to save my life, at least, not effectively, so I wouldn’t want to bother. And when it’s not enthusiastic or from the heart, it’s empty words, and a person listening for the emotion will know. Mom would get pissed off if I said things without meaning, but would get mad if I couldn’t fake the enthusiasm or belief either.
I got so used to losing on reflex I just stopped playing the game.
I find it strange that I have more feeling and emotion toward complete strangers (not internet ones that I talk to, but the random person in line at the grocery store type of strangers) than what’s left of my family. I think I tore myself out of the album and let the photos fade in the light, away from the rest. I’m probably a ghost that they might speak of off-hand, but I don’t feel the desire to connect. I feel like I should, which is where that worry comes in, but I’d rather be alone as I am rather than in a crowded room, making small talk with people I’d have to be prompted to remember and having few if any stories to place.
It’s like looking at an album full of photos without context or captions. What are you supposed to feel seeing these people in these places?
I don’t know.
It just became easier when I realized I was always gonna be the last one to find out who died or what happened, largely because I don’t live on social media. I let myself fade away.
I’m sure a few years down the line mom will speak to me, or maybe I will her. And being Mother’s Day and all, it feels like I’m supposed to call her or e-mail her. Am I afraid to do that? Yes, in a way. It’s frightening because other than saying “Happy Mother’s Day,” what the hell would I say? I actually tackled this question a few years ago. Our issues just weren’t as blatant then, I guess. I do remember some conversations where it felt like she really was listening and we could talk about real things that meant something, not religion and politics. Those were nice… for a while.
She’s gone full god-squad and uber-religious while I’ve gone the opposite direction. She never seemed terribly interested in what I was doing or where I was going in life, and she is stuck on an image I had of my ambitions from 20 years ago.
To me, the phrase “Happy Mother’s Day” doesn’t feel right to say, because with me as her daughter, right now I don’t think she’s terribly “happy” about how I turned out. And the “mother” part of her has been sporadic once I hit puberty. It’s a Day. That’s all it is to me. And I prefer not to call anyone unless I actually have something to talk about.
And I’m not gonna let her spew politics and religion in my ear for half an hour while I can’t get a word in edgewise to get out of the angry monologuing.
I admit, I’m a bit sad about this, because I feel I should have the desire to talk with her and such, but we’ve become such different people in our lives it’s like sitting at a table trying to make friends with a stranger who is the complete opposite of whoever you can stand being in the same room with. It can happen when both try to find that common ground. Not so effective when only one makes the effort.
I got sick of making the effort when it required me to tamp down all my objections and contrary feelings. I want to contribute, not just be forced to listen. And that is where we leave it. Even if she suddenly was willing, I have no idea what I would say. I’ve gotten comfortable not having her in my life, which sounds terrible, but it’s true. She’s probably taken my cousins under her wing after they lost their mother (her sister), and since they’re mostly all god-squad, too, they may well be her new daughters. She can have them, and they can have her. That doesn’t bother me, they can support each other. She has a husband and is not alone, and she can’t stand being alone.
I’m used to the opposite. I guess some folks would think I’m gonna be a bitter, disappointed, lonely woman when I get older. Well, I’ll certainly try to get older, but I’ll find things that make me happy, even if it’s not other people around me all the time. COVID restrictions have made it trickier to get myself out there, but I did get my first dose of the vaccine a few days ago. Just waiting for the 2nd one, and maybe I’ll get out there with more confidence and get a job or do some other things. If I’m bitter or disappointed, it’s that things like jobs or what I want to do haven’t worked out so much in my life yet, not the fact that I don’t have an interpersonal life to speak of.
At least, not yet. I’ve got neighbors that are as good as family most days, and that works for now.
I’ll say “Happy Mother’s Day” to them, or mock it with them, but that’s about it. I’ll call my bestie, one of the best moms I’ve seen in my generation and hope her days are going well. Otherwise, I’m gonna commune with my trees and garden. My plants and pets will keep me going and I’ll finally get to clean the hell out of my kitchen with some leftover pizza in the oven to graze on.
It’s Sunday. Looking forward to a new Monday and new plans for the near and far future. And that’s my focus today, and onward.
This is more my idea of Sunday/Mother’s Day flowers here: just enjoying what’s out in nature where you can. Don’t need a fancy damned bouquet, and I wouldn’t want one.