Monday, November 13, 2006


As I approach the second anniversary of her passing, Mom has been in my thoughts of late. With all the driving I do, I have a lot of time to think and puzzle thru many things. My relationship with Mom though remains perplexing.

Mom and I had a relationship nothing like what I have with our daughters. I am not saying she was not there when I needed her, it was just that we were never close. She was always "Mom" whether it was my brothers or me. I am not complaining. Mom did teach me to read before I started school and conveyed a love of literature that served me well during my VERY socially awkward High School years. With that exception, she never really related to me in any way that was different from my brothers. She was not distanced from our needs growing up. She vehemently (and wisely) fought the Schools on advance placement. She dealt with most of our school discipline problems and of course was there for the birth of ALL her grandchildren.

As I have come to realize the difference in our relationship as compared to my daughters, I wonder if it was tied to how close we 4 siblings were growing up? How much was that we were a self sustaining dynamic of our own? Was she just totally overwhelmed? Or, how much was tied to her (in hindsight) periodic bouts of depression?

I believe that if Mom had treated me different from the others, our sibling relationship would have been a lot more difficult. I further believe we would not be as close as we are now. I suspect that Moms emotional distance and my sibs closeness more than my physical oddities were a determinant in my education and career choices. I prefer to think she kept her distance out of wisdom. I begrudge nothing and I am grateful for what I was given. I will always wonder about the "why" though.

Rest well Mom, we miss you.


Åsa said...

Mal! What a post! You have such insights. But how did you want her to treat you different from your brothers? I thought the goal was to treat your children equally? (mind you: I don’t have children). It sounds logic that you became close with your siblings because your mom was distant. But it only sounds logic – I don’t think it is. It’s hard to change the ways you have been taught – consciously and subconsciously – by your parents. To me it seams like you are fortunate to be so close with your daughters even though you didn’t have someone who showed you the benefits of doing that. And most of all your daughters are fortunate to have you!

anchovy said...

I've had a similar experience. My sister and I are close partly as the result of some extremely tough times dealing with mom.

It's so interesting to take a (relatively) impassionate look back and understand some of the reasons for our parents' shortcomings. Sometimes we're too busy reliving our old hurts to appreciate the vulnerabilities, weaknesses and human frailties that afflict our folks. We forget they have hurts of their own.

It's good to ask the questions you ask. Understanding the source of our folks' shortcomings is a step away from our hurts and a step toward sympathy, compassion and love.

(Maybe more applicable to my situation, but maybe there's something here that resonates for you too. Adios.)

Chrissie said...

I sure see a resemblance there!

Thought provoking post *hugs*

sage said...

very thoughtful post, one that wasn't easy to write. I agree with Chrisse, there's a resemblance! blessings.

honkeie2 said...

Our parents are put on pedistals by us and we expect a little too much from them. My mom was very much the same way with me and my brother. Emotions were rarely even shown and still arent. Even the good bye hug that ppl give each other is odd. My mom was never the touchy feely kind of person, and I think that is why I went after women like I did. There has never been a point in my life, since I was 16 that I didnt have a girl friend or wife. My first wife wasnt as emtional as I am and in hindsight she was very much like my mother. But that has changed and the women in my life since the ex have been the complete opposite of that.
Who knows why our parents have done the things they have done. But in the end they are people with needs, just they are our parents and we sometimes forget the animal that is within them is the same one that is in us.

mal said...

Asa- thank you as always for your kind words. As regards my daughters? I think I am blessed to have a such a great relationship with them *S*

Little Fish/Honkeie- I think you both hit on an important truth, we do tend to put our parents on pedestals and forget they are merely human. Thank You

Chrissie- TY Being 8" taller than Mom, most folks did not notice the resemblance *L*. I have seen pictures of her in her youth, she was quite pretty.

Sage- thank you, you are correct, It was not easy to write.

Liz said...

I'm glad you wrote this because it gives me something to think about. My mother and I have a very strained relationship although I tend to try and over look most of her unpleasant ways. I often wonder what life will be like when she passes. This gives me another perspective I had not thought about.

mal said...

Liz- my relationship with my Mom was never really strained so much as "cool". My daughters and I discuss things that I would never have dreamed talking to Mom about. I hope you can resolve what ever gremlins exist in your relationship with your Mom. I have friends that are estranged from thier parents. Some for good reasons. Some for not so good reasons. All of them are painful

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Mal, that is very well written; you were obviously very much influenced by your mother.

Anonymous said...

I think nowadays mothers are more willing to talk to their daughters about things. I never quite know how to initiate such conversations with my daughter, but usually a little humor or teasing opens up the door. I never discussed anything personal with my mother. I figured it was because I was the 4th daughter and she was just worn out. I also didn't have much in common with her and was much closer to my father so I didn't seek her attention.

It's weird now, especially since I am her only daughter to give her grandchildren. I never would have envisioned that!