My mother and I lived in two different worlds. I was in the real world and she was in hers. I never told her what I “needed” from her as my mother. It would have been a waste of time. She generally focused on my dad, herself and her own needs, so I just got mad at her. Often.
A thirty something I know, who had her first baby a few months ago, has a mother similar to mine. She chose, however, to write her mom a long epistle (how do you like that word?), explaining what kind of grandmother she wishes she’d be, as well as mother. If my daughter and I didn’t get along especially well, and she reached out to me like this daughter is doing, it would get my attention. Sometimes someone needs to hit us over the head with the facts, even if it’s our own children.
Our daughters and sons may have emerged from our bodies, but they really are separate people from us. Learning how to keep our distance, while respecting our children as they emerge as adults, is one of the hardest lessons in life. That’s why Everyone Loves Raymond strikes a chord, isn’t it?
I admire my young friend. I hope her mother has the sense to pay attention to her letter. I wish I had written one to my mom.
0 Responses to “A letter to my mother”
Kate Line Snider says:
I was an only child.
If I had written such a letter, my mother would have just bawled and sniffed, and continued to treat me as before. She would probably have called my father home from work to “deal” with me. I wouldn’t have had to worry about being home to let him in- they had a key to my house and used it whether I was home or not.
I was divorced and almost fifty when I remarried. The year before, while we were courting, my future husband often spent the night with me. Once he was jarred from sleep at about 1 AM by the ringing phone. I answered it myself, only to hear my mother’s voice say “I’m sorry- I’ve got the wrong number!” SURE SHE DID!!! (I should have asked her who she was calling at 1 AM although I knew she just wanted to see if he was there- and register her disapproval.)
You just don’t reach out to someone like this!
When she was on her deathbed 12 years ago, she was still criticizing me, and reminding me of my past errors. When she died a few weeks later, I grieved just as much as I would have if she had treated me respectfully; however, the last 12 years have been the most peaceful of my life.
I would have been better off as an adult if I had never tried to please her, and just learned to laugh sooner than I did!
Marsha Calhoun says:
After thirty-seven years of a relationship with my mother similar to yours with your mother, I did write her a letter after she got a bit loaded and was consistently rude and insulting to my daughter’s father in front of our daughter one Thanksgiving we spent at her home. I just said that I wasn’t going to expose myself to that anymore, and if she wanted to do business with me, she could choose to whenever she wanted provided that she respected that boundary. It made her cry, which I hated, but it saved us years of pain afterward, when she was widowed, when I was widowed, and when she died. I think she learned that she could trust me, not to be nice, but to be honest, and to care enough about her to want to create a relationship we could both live with.
Hi Marsha, Your comment touched me! Thank you.
Marsha Calhoun says:
I am very glad to hear your response; I was nervous about what I said. Thank you for your original, evocative post.