My “issues” with my mother were brought sharply into focus when I found myself watching a particular episode of “The Sopranos”, the one where Tony attempts to suffocate his mother, Livia. Before I knew it I was cheering him on, feeling all of his pent-up hurt, frustration, anger and bitterness as it shut out everything else his conscious self had told him for years; how he should love, care for and respect this woman who had brought him into the world, indeed, given him life.
I looked at “Livia’s” face and saw my own mother.
But instead of feeling shame at my true feelings towards her I acknowledged them and the long path that led to this conclusion. I do not love my mother. I can’t.
Shame has been replaced now with acceptance, albeit an acceptance tinged with real sadness.
Mothers do not give their children life, nature does that. Our children’s’ lives are not our property, not ours to trash as and when the stress of life gets too much. We are merely the guardians, the caretakers (literally) until they can safely take control of their own destinies.
I am so far from being the perfect mother, or even the mother I had hoped to be, but perfection is not what being a parent is about.
For me it’s about loving my kids through all those bad times as well as good, with that same ferocious and undying love I felt the first moment I saw each of them. It’s about putting your arms around them when you really feel like kicking their ass.
And, most importantly, it is about those children growing up knowing, without question at all, that they are loved and lovable.
The reasons for where I am to-day in my relationship with my mother are many and painful, from my parents eventual divorce after years of hell for all involved, to her now obvious mental health problems, but in the end all of this is irrelevant.
I at least understand it is not my fault! It’s just what it is and that is all.
I have no magic answer for how I progress this. It’s just a day at a time.