Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I’m Making a Molehill Out of A Mountain, She Says. Indeed.

I know. Sorry for the secrecy. I do not appreciate when others do the same on their blog. Because I need to know everything! Unbloggable things drive me crazy! No reader left behind and all.

But sometimes, just when I am ready to open certain emotional valves and let them gush, I chicken out and start thinking way too much about what to share and what not to share.

On one hand, this is my forum, my space, my journal, my life, so I want to be able to write about whatever I want. I do it for cathartic reasons as well as because I like to have a snapshot of my past, a blueprint for my future. And also because I just like to write. But is it my place to expose another’s life, even if it does intersect with mine? If a friend tells me about second thoughts she has about her husband, can I write about that? About how it makes me think about commitments and relationships and how the grass is never greener on the other side? Obviously I would omit names and identifying details, but it still feels like an invasion of her privacy. So I don’t. I censor myself and those thoughts and feelings get bottled up. But if this were a journal I wrote in and kept between my mattress and box spring, you better believe it would include such pontifications.

I haven’t exactly made it a secret that have a difficult relationship with my mother. While this doesn’t make me unique, I do think that some of our circumstances are. When we have a fight or a situation or whatever you want to call it, I get into details with friends, or with Nicole, but these are just little glimpses of moments, peeks behind the curtain, just quick scenes from a life. They hardly tell the whole story. But a moment does not a relationship make. Everyone responds in appropriate ways and then act as my coach or cheering section or just the ear who listens. I am always amazed that most people can intuit exactly what I need in particular moments.

But like the proverbial onion, there are so many layers here. I can tell you about a blow-up, but that hardly presents an accurate picture. And while I like having an outlet, I also want solutions. I want someone to make it better for the future and I want one of those Clorox pens to erase emotional stains of my past.

I read Tori Spelling’s book because I heard that she talked about her notoriously difficult relationship with her own mother in it. I tore through the book at record reading speed (no easy feat with two babies). And I was disappointed, because I irrationally expected Tori (yes, we are on a first name basis) to provide Answers. But she didn’t have any. Her relationship was tattered and stitched and torn and broken and healing and suffering, just like mine. I left wanting more.

And I got more in, of all places, on her reality show. On a recent episode she lamented her relationship with her mother. She looked incredulous as her husband suggested she just cut all ties with her. She looked sad and wounded and hurt. But she really hit the nail on the head when she said that she is excited that she will have a good relationship with her daughter but laments that she never had it herself with her own mother. Yes yes yes. THAT is what her book should have been about. That is what I want to talk about.

So now people like her and me, we embark on motherhood without a roadmap, with the best of intentions and many, many fears. I feel very lucky to be in this position (one of the aftershocks of infertility) but at times I am scared out of my mind. And I still [irrationally] feel like I need to heal the past and protect the future with my mother. This is, after all, one of the most important relationships in our lives. Yet it seems to get the shaft, as we grow up and focus more on relationships with spouses and friends and our own children. A parent has unconditional love for their child, but does a child have to have unconditional love for their parent? To me, a relationship seems lopsided if they don’t. I will love my daughters no matter what. But I expect them to love me too, no matter what. For me, that reciprocity is the ultimate glue in any relationship. Maybe I am alone in that thinking, but I stand by that.

Maybe my expectations are too high and maybe I just have a hard time accepting reality. Maybe I just need to protect myself, my girlfriend and my children. But, in situations like this, what might be best to do isn’t the easiest thing to do.

So now I focus on my own girls. I want my daughters to be proud of me. I want them to love me unconditionally. I want them to be annoyed with me, and get past it. I want them to think of me as a keeper of traditions; a creature of habit; a baker of delicious cookies; a popper of popcorn for movie night; a recorder of their memories. A reader, a writer, someone who does crafty things. I want to be their fan, their coach, their ear and cheering section, as my friends have been for me. Most of all I want to be someone who is always, always there for them. Someone who can slide her own issues and priorities to the back burner for them. As we tell the girls all the time when we play Flying games with the girls, Mommys are always a soft place to land. And I mean that metaphorically as well.

The above title, a comment my mother made to me recently. Hello, Freudian slip. Indeed at times I feel like I take this mountain and reduce it because to deal with it had-on is just way too daunting.

Pictured above, despite everything, will I be able to be a good mother? I look at their little faces and I hope like I have never hoped for anything in my life that I can.


libbittoo said...

i read often, but am de-lurking to comment. my relationship with my parents was less than say the least and particularly with my "mother". after many years of emotional turmoil i have cut all ties (not that i am saying it;s the answer for everyone) and have been all the more emotionally happy and stable for it! she does not know about my children as i didnt want that influence for them and it's been 10 years. their only grandmother (partner's mom) is currently leaving this earth on to a better place of peace and i am sad for my boys to lose the only grandmom they've known. i parent differently b/c of my mother, but struggle daily not to fall into instinctual patterns and sometimes i fail, and oh the guilt, but then i quickly get back to it as i see their faces looking at me with pure trust and love and try again. hopefully i have broken the cycle. i love my boys more than anything on earth and hope i am doing right by them. if it were not from where i came i would not have been able to get to where i am and where i will go in the future. email if you'd like to talk more........

calliope said...

I saw that episode as well and it made me so so sad. I think, as women, we are hard-wired to think that the relationship we have with our Mothers will be this sort of utopia. When things are shitty it hurts on like this primal level...and yet we keep striving for some sort of perfect.

I think some of the women that are failures as Mothers are people that never made the shift from girl to Mother. The transition from needing to be coddled to providing the care never happened. So you end up with Mothers that just suck because on some level they feel like the child should be taking care of them.

I think women that had shitty mothers will turn into amazingly awesome mothers partly in overcompensating and partly because it will finally restore some balance.


bleu said...

I was moved by your post. I was also intrigued by the comment "A parent has unconditional love for their child, but does a child have to have unconditional love for their parent?"

I have always seen it exactly opposite. I did not have unconditional love growing up at all. I was disowned at 30 when my father found out I was gay, my mother knew and it was not huge to her but when he found out she stopped all contact with me as well. It has been 11 years. I have the only grandchild. My upbringing was abusive in many many ways but the biggest affect, I truly believe, was the lack of unconditional love. especially because I felt it towards my entire family so strongly, so desperately. I see my own son, and I know he loves me unconditionally, and I truly believe he always will. I also know from my own baggage that I will love him absolutely, unconditionally for all eternity no matter what.
But sadly I do not think it is always the case with parents. I think many parents get in their heads how they want their children to be and when they are different, their own unique self, they sometimes just choose to disconnect or ignore or abuse or a myriad of awful things.
One thing I do know, or at least believe strongly, is that by this very questioning you are doing, by the very act of examining these things, you become a better mother.

Much love.

Malea said...

I can definately say that a poor relationship with your mother can take on new heights when she considers your love for women an abomination and all the rest of the negative views associated with homosexuality.

It's not that you simply have different views it's that she would rather you be miserable alone reading the bible and going to church every time the door opens than to respect who you are and what makes you happy.

It's at that point that unconditional love goes out the window and it becomes about her will verse your own and the plotting and sabotage to make sure you can never be happy and gay.

Cutting all ties can be your saving grace and the blows to your self esteem and self worth can plummet[again and again],because of the guilt that makes you give her access to your heart.However, to subject kids to a grandmother who loathes everything her daughter is and worked hard to make sure the wife and kids would never be a reality is unforgivable in my book.

So to those who have repairable relationships with their mother that doesn't mean you sacrific your soul ,I wish you succcess. For those who have forgiven and forgot too many times to only have to sustain more blows to you spirit I say forgt her. Pray that God would place a mom figure in your life that actually knows what unconditional love is and is more than willing to share that with your gayness, wife and kids

Anonymous said...

i had (have but am estranged for 10+ years) a shitty mother and not real sure that i'm doing a bang up job over here with my two (they are nine and six, so old enough where i feel i'm able to gauge how i'm doing). it SUCKS and it's hard and there are days that i absolutely hear her in my tone of voice and what i say to them.
i made the choice to walk away and for *me* that was the healthiest choice i could have made (my sibling did too, so it makes it less awkward and is more of a "clean" break). as my therapist says, just build a box around your new nuclear family; draw boundaries and go in with a "game plan" when you have to interact with the toxic life-force. you must always protect yourself, your GF & your girls.

Anonymous said...

"Someone who can slide her own issues and priorities to the back burner for them."

This is IT for me. My mother's issues have always been more important than mine.They still are. I hate this struggle.

Anonymous said...

I've read from time to time and I believe I can imagine the struggle you go through as I go through my own with my mother. Even after many years of therapy and my own admission to "getting past" the pain, I still find myself getting caught up in what I like to call her "attempt at love tornado". I to have talked of the idea of cutting ties, especially right before my child was born. I could not however get past the fact that my own children would grow up not knowing their grandmother. Anyway, without being too long winded, it's a bumpy road and definitely one that must be tread carefully. Wanted so much for or even from your girls may skew your own relationship with them. Be careful not to become disappointed in yourself for not being all you thought you could be. Just being for them will most of the time be enough. It's obvious you love and for almost all of us, that is what we look for and need from all those in our lives.

Anonymous said...

I referred to you and quoted you on my post today. Hope its ok...

gypsygrrl said...

parental issues are hard.
i hear you on the mom-thing. so loud and clear, sometimes it is frightening... i am sure the issues are different. tho the unconditional love thoughts really kicked me in the gut. i am going thru a phase...yes, i love my mom. but i do not like her a lot of the times. at all.

if i ever have kids, i want them and expect them to love me always...

but jesus, i hope they like who i am more than anything...

your girls will love you and nicole forever... and they will like you too!!!

hugs from a gypsy

The Mother Hen said...

I read but never comment, but was moved by your post and one line in particular stood out. "Mothering without a roadmap." It just so happens there is a book with a very similar title and it has to do with this very subject. How do we mother without the proper role model from our mother. It is called Mothering without a map. Kathryn Black is the author, and she has a website. I highly recommend it. And Kudos to you for knowing it's important to do it differently!

Anonymous said...

You don't have to worry, your girls very obviously think the sun shines out of you.

Anonymous said...

"Mothering without a roadmap."
Me too, and it's so scary.