I know that some of you started following my blog because of the stories I share about my mom. I’m sure you’ve noticed, but I need to let you know that, for now, I’m not going to be doing too much writing about mom.
One of the self-imposed rules of my blog postings about my mother is that they will always be respectful, and, even when I’m writing something that might be less-than-flattering, I try to present her in as positive a way as I can. I believe that since she doesn’t read my blog, and, therefore is unable to respond to anything I say about her, I feel that I need to keep my stories as neutral as possible. I realize that perhaps that might sound as if there are deep, dark stories I’m not telling. Not quite. There are no Faye-Dunaway-as-Joan-Crawford-No-More-Wire-Hangers-Ever stories waiting to be told about my mom. It’s the stories where neither of us might look good. I don’t mind being honest about my thoughts and actions, but, am not sure that right now I’m in a place to not make stories seem more dramatic than they might normally be.
Recently, I have found that my sense of fairness and neutrality towards my mother is very strained — which, considering that our relationship has been strained in some way or another for most of my life, this comes as no surprise. She and I are very similar in temperament, yet very different in thought, belief, and action. So we clash often. And, while it’s not hour long shouting matches, our words are delivered with intent to hurt. I’m called to mind a quote from one of my absolute favorite books, John Chancellor Makes Me Cry, a book of essays by Anne Rivers Siddons. This is from the essay entitled Winter Island:
One late-winter Thursday evening last year, I had a fight with my husband. It was one of the landmark bad ones, a bitter, vicious, wounding thing and the sort a man and woman don’t get over. The words said during these mini-murders leave small, separate, pitted scars, as though acid had been thrown, buckshot fired. Sheer human ugliness leaves ineradicable soil and stains. These are not like the day-to-day wrangles and the running territorial skirmishes that thread any marriage. We survive our bad ones, but they remain on our hides. We are sill us, but scarred and eroded.
Siddons is talking of a marriage, but, the sentiment is the same even applied to others you’re close with. These fights of ours seem to happen more often of late — as our relationship shifts, as I become more of the parent/caregiver, and she becomes more childlike and less independent, the traditional roles of Mother/Son come into play and cause conflict. When I try to be the parent–like when I tried to get her to go to the hospital a few weeks ago because she had a couple of strange seizures, she asserted the role of being The Mom, and was informed, as The Child, that she didn’t want to go, and she didn’t need me to tell her what to do. (On a side note, the seizures may have been mini-stokes, and, possibly caused because of low-blood pressure). Do I rationally understand that her refusal to go to the hospital had as much to do with being afraid as it was of not wanting me to tell her what to do? Yes, I understand. But, the emotionality of it all doesn’t make it any easier. It doesn’t make her calling me nag or fussy old woman any easier to deal with.
I know, that right now, in writing about my mom, I run the risk of sounding like the Poor Me Victim that I so despise. I choose to take care of my mom, I choose to live under her roof, so she can remain in the home she loves so much, and, as a result of my choice, I give up the claim of victimhood. Choices have consequences, as the saying goes. I admit that this is more difficult than I imagined it could be, yet, the difficulty isn’t surprising.
It is what it is.
Que Sera Sera.
I know that the clashes we have are less about the topic we’re clashing over than they are about the Greater Meaning, about the frustrations we’re both feeling. Mom is getting older, and less and less able to do things for herself, she’s having to give up an independence that she’s always been very proud of (her mother was not very independent, and needed taking care of –mostly emotionally– from the time my mom was very young, when her father died). I think she’s also feeling increasingly lonely and isolated as the family of her generation is nearly gone, the friends she counted on and relied on are all gone. Her social life, outside of anything she does with Julian and I, is sporadic at best. And, I am feeling frustrated at being a forty-six year old man who lives with his mother, though it’s not the living with her that’s the biggest frustration, but, rather, it’s the fact that it is Her House, and things must be done Her Way and by Her Rules. So most days I feel like an errant teenager. I’m also feeling an sense of isolation, a feeling that is unfamiliar to me. I’ve always been one who enjoys being alone. Yet, this is different. In the past, when I’ve not worked, I’ve been able to come and go as I want, and, while still being alone, I’ve been able to do things to busy my brain; at other times, I’ve had plenty of time alone outside of work, but had some social contact at work. Now, outside of my mom and Julian, I often go for weeks without speaking to anyone else — a few comments on Facebook, or on my blog, is the only conversation I have. It’s an enforced isolation, in some ways, as it’s tough for me to be completely relaxed if I’m somewhere without mom, as, lately, most things that happen to her require getting to a doctor quickly.
I realize that I’ve not mentioned Julian much in this posting, and that it may seem that I’m leaving him out of the picture. I’m not. Our relationship is what gives me the strength to keep going. He’s as much a part of this as mom and I. He suffers through my anger, my tears. He lives in a place that is not His, or Ours. His social life is limited too, though, and not to minimize his sense of isolation, he has his family to talk to, and, he works, so he has some outlet to take him away from the drama here. Julian gives me wings, he gives me roots, he takes care of me, nurtures me, and, most importantly, he makes me laugh. Often. I sometimes feel as if I’m taking him for granted, but, I couldn’t do this without him.
The point of all this? To say that stories about mom will be fewer and further between. I’m not in an objective place, and it would not be fair of me to write about her. I risk writing about her without respect and concern, and risk sounding like a petulant child.
But, not to worry. It’s not like I don’t have other things to write about.