I think I never loved my mother. At least not on purpose. Maybe by default, because it’s a commandment or something – but never with the certainty I often see in others. Mostly, anger and humiliation mark my feelings toward her. I also feel deeply guilty, especially since she has that title: Mother – and all it means. And particularly now that I have that title, too, and understand some of the hardships of mothers.
My guilt and anger have only grown in complexity since the onset of her Alzheimer’s.
I have also watched helplessly as my siblings act out their own dramas with her. The truth is that none of us is suited to care for her, this woman we all despise. And yet it is our responsibility. Unfortunately, our feelings of obligation are not enough to sustain our general humanity and we collectively stumble in our oversight of her, often in flagrantly violative ways but also in subtle and benign ways. Since I removed myself in space and power from my mother and the care of her many years ago, I am usually relegated to just watching the horrible scene. Sometimes I can’t even watch and I turn away from it for long stretches of time.
And of course, my mother and I will never figure it out. Not together anyway. Trapped in the past and beyond reconciliation, she and I are caught forever now in the same heartwrenching dysfunctional relationship. I try to absorb and accept and forgive. I breathe and breathe until I hyperventilate with sadness. Each encounter is painful : as if it never occurred for her, even though it has happened a thousand times. She will die and I will be left with open ended bitter memories – just as I am today, actually – unless I learn how to just let go of it and move forward.
So in this month of the celebration of mothers, I hope simply to find peace in the relationship with the woman who gave me life but who otherwise made it so difficult every step of the way.
Happy (late) Mother’s Day.