Yesterday's therapy appointment was all about Mom. About me being a Mom to Sophie, and about my relationship with my mom.
Sophie has asked that I not share personal information about her with anyone--not even on my blog. She is a very private girl, and I respect that. So I won't write about specifics, but let me say that parenting my 10 1/2 year old daughter is much harder than it used to be.
So onto my mom. We have almost all talked on our blogs in one form or another about our mothers. Mostly about how their parenting (or lack thereof) caused such an impact on our lives in the present tense. Some of Us have worked through our issues; some of Us are in the middle of working through them; some of Us are no doubt terrified of even going near them.
Julie & I talked yesterday about a recent experience with my mom. To make a long story short, I needed to pick up the kids earlier on Saturday morning (they spent the night Friday) than she wanted me to, and even though she had known since Thursday of the earlier pick up time (10:30 am), she still sighed and sighed and wore her disappointment like a cloak when I came to get them.
Julie asked me to describe Mom as if I were an outsider and had no knowledge of her other than what I observed. What would that look like? I finally described what she looked like Satuday morning--like a very giving grandmother, who has 8 grandkids to take care of at one time, who is selfless and frazzled.
"Selfless" was a big warning word for Julie. Selfless does not mean someone who gives generously out of abundance. Selfless implies no sense of self.
My mom loves having my kids and my niece to visit. She also loves her husband's grand kids (set of twins, boy & girl, almost 4; and three kids, boy-7, girl-4, girl-2) and for the most part they are very good kids. But no matter how good kids that age are, 8 kids at one time is a lot of work.
Mom's husband is a super granddad. But he's a lousy communicator, and he doesn't let Mom have a choice as to when his grandkids are there. He will even ask to have them come over and then leave the house to go work in his building for hours, leaving mom with all the kids. She has either tried to talk to him about this and he won't listen, or she knows it's a moot point because he does what he wants, regardless, and she doesn't bother to bring it up anymore.
I talked about this with her at the first of the year. I gave her marriage advice. It was weird. It was one of those things I was "attached" to that I have let go. She's a grown up, it's her marriage, I am staying out of it.
So my mom's sense of self comes from taking care of kids/other people and she also feels like she often has no choice in the matter. A perfect storm to create a martyr.
I told Julie that when I was up against Mom's sighs and frustrated "you're here already? you have to go already?" that I didn't get angry. I was very calm, said we'd talked about it already, and I had 20 minutes before we had to leave. She was huffy almost the entire time I was there. I didn't get mad; I actually saw her with different eyes. I didn't like what I saw, but I wasn't angry as hell over it.
She looks and acts unhappy most of the time I am around her. Most of the time I am around her, she is caring for a posse of children.
Julie said this is where there's a problem in our relationship. If I want to heal this rift between me and my mom, I have to spend time with her outside of these situations. I need to have one on one adult time with her. I need to build a relationship with her separate from my kids.
I also asked Julie how to handle these types of situations, when Mom throws out the martyr attitude. She said just how I handled it. I can model setting boundaries and not letting her negativity control my actions. I can set my own schedule with my kids and not let her selflessness cause problems for me.
The idea of spending time with my mom is not a comfortable one. I still have this wall clearly set up between us. Yes, I feel like the anger is (mostly) gone, but I haven't moved any further than that.
Part of the issue is that my mom's quirks get under my skin. I was an English/Lit major in college; grammar errors in speech and writing drive me positively insane. My mom's grammar is horrible. There is no reason to correct her; she has and will always speak like this. My mom also is usually indecisive. She is passive aggressive. She is controlling. She is emotionally immature and unaware.
Yes, I see a lot of myself in my mom (other than the grammar thing). It's tempered somewhat because I am NOT my mom. But don't we dislike in others what we most dislike about ourselves?
I'm faced with the next step of asking my mom on a date, either to lunch or to get a pedicure together. I know I need to, but I don't wanna. We have nothing in common. It's not like she can be my "girlfriend."
Understand, also, that no one else but my sister and me would describe Mom like this. She's very pretty, she's generous, she's nice, she's kind, she's thoughtful, she'd do anything for her family and friends, she's reliable, she's a person of faith (which only happened after she divorced my dad; she did not go to church when I was growing up).
I write about all this because I need to process it. I am going to take the next step, and I'm sure it won't be as bad as all the scenarios I play out in my head (like me breaking into tears and spilling my "black box" issues, or me getting angry at her for something so small she'll think I'm a total bitch--which I often have been around her). It could simply be a gesture to Honor My Mother, which is a commandment that I'm currently breaking.
Saturday we have two pool parties--one at my sister's and one at Mark's cousin's house. My sister has a new pool, and this is her first pool party. Mark's cousin has an annual gathering that we always go to. We have to do both. Mom will be ticked off that we will only be at my sister's for a few hours and not all day. I'll listen to her sighs, I'll not get mad, and I'll try not to let it bother me.
I'll be talking to her soon, just the two of us. I hope it's okay.