Friday, July 24, 2009

Why I could probably benefit from some time on the couch

I haven't written much about my mother here before. Maybe once or twice in passing. During the five years that I Iived in Boston I probably came home once or twice a year at most, and so the topic never really came up in blog land. Now that I have been living at home for the last few weeks, it makes sense that my proximity to my family would lend itself to blog fodder. But now I have to address the comments inspired by the two entries I posted about my mother, comments which included the phrases "spoilt brat" (sic) and "I would have smacked you upside the head," and even a caring but gently disapproving e-mail along the same vein from a good friend.

First of all, I will never tell my mother about this blog, and not just because the very existence of pre-marital sex offends her on a visceral level. Ever since the beginning of this blog I knew I would never tell my mother about it, because this blog is my outlet. For two years I never wrote about my mother on this blog, but I knew one day I would want to do so. No, I knew that one day I would need to do so. Today probably isn't that day, but let's think of it as a preamble.

Like many people, I guess, I have a long and complicated history with my mother. Over the years, the daily traumas of childhood faded with the relief of impending adulthood and the miles of distance between us. I found that, unsurprisingly, I got along with my mother much better when I didn't have to live with her. But eighteen years of physical and emotional trauma (I hesitate to call it abuse, which invokes something much more dramatic, when really it was more of a low-level, underlying constant) can't help but leave scars. As I said, our relationship has calmed since the turbulent days of my youth, and it has grown into something else entirely. And as I've grown older I recognize that, ironically enough, my mother's relationship with me almost exactly mirrors her relationship with her own mother: one of duty, obligation, and absolutely no joy. It is what it is, and I am mostly ok with that. We all do the best we can.

I did try to write about my mother once on this blog. I finished it, read it over once, labeled it "unpostable" and left it to languish in my drafts folder. It was just too sad. So if I attempt to use humor, as in the two recent entries, to address a topic that could otherwise be quite painful, please understand that this is my therapy. Please also understand that, as much as I love all of you who read, this blog is just as much for me as it is for you. You are not obligated to like everything I write. Just as I should not be obligated to defend how I feel about everyone in my life or what I say to or about them. You do not always have the full story. Thus is the nature of blogs. And to everyone who is so quick to judge, please know that I envy the relationships you have with your mothers. I have always looked on curiously and a bit wistfully at those people who can say, completely straight-faced, "My mother is my best friend," and mean it. I will never have that. And I may not always be right, and I may not always be good, and I am obviously more than a bit flawed, and I know this, believe me. But for everyone who said, or even just thought, that I should be a bit kinder to my parents, I ask you to please, be a bit kind with me. We're all doing the best we can.


  1. Amen.

    Actually, I was going to just leave the "Amen" as my entire comment but more is warranted.

    If anyone could have or should given you heck about talking like that about your mother, it might have been me. I lost my mother when I was four years old. I think anyone who HAS a mother is lucky.

    That said, in the vein of Jewish jokes, I think only a Jew can tell another Jew a Jewish joke, without the teller getting knocked on the head. (I'm Jewish. Not that that matters.)

    What I'm trying to say is this: You're allowed to talk about how you feel about your mother. Of course you are. She's yours. Now if anyone ELSE talked like that about your Mom, I'm sure you'd raise hell. And rightly so. Because that's the way it should be.

    So, to everything you said here, I say "Amen."

    This blog IS about you and FOR you. We're just happy to be a part of this part of your life.

  2. I second Dawn's Amen and can I get a Hallelujah!!

  3. What's funny to me, and I guess what speaks volumes about my own relationship with my own mother, is that I never once thought that you should be more patient with your mom when I read those posts. In fact, I thought "How the hell is she surviving living with her parents???" I have a similar relationship with my mom, one that will never be what I still wish it could be, but that I accept as what we're both capable of providing each other, given our histories. Hopefully I'll do better with my own future daughter, should there ever be one.

  4. oh I am so there with Georgia. I read your last couple posts, reading bits aloud to my husband. And all I could think was during particular moments, "Her mother did what?!?" Seriously, I get the whole eating your food. And my mother? I'm currently living in England, moving home in a week (and my mother couldn't understand why I didn't want to stay in her home for 4 weeks, hah!), but a year ago, when I mention re-upholstering the vintage couch and chair I left at home her response is that, oh, you wanted me to keep those? My mother calls for every little thing, "just to check in" but didn't mention giving away my living room furniture that I loved.

    I am in the same place, where we do better apart. Everyone who meets my mother loves her, but didn't have to grow up with her. She's controlling and competitive, but I love her because she's my mom. For a long time I was offended she didn't read my blog when my MIL, uncle, random people around the world do. But now that she does I feel panic that I cannot use it to vent when I'm upset.

    You should feel free to write whatever you wish. It's your blog. It's kind of like a conversation you overhear. If you don't like it, unless it's horribly racist or whatnot, you walk away.

  5. lucky i have such a cool couch if i do say so myself (it was only last year we were building it...)

  6. I really get where you're coming from. I'm in the same place with my mom. We're better now, but it's still such a minefield. And it's so good that we live 1200 miles apart. I have a 9 year old daughter and I'm doing it all differently and our relationship is so very, very close. I cross my fingers for the future and I'll be working hard to keep it this way.

    Love your blog and best of luck to you on this new journey.

  7. Mothers are mothers. We have only one. Mothers are not supposed to be our best friend!

  8. Where are the haters? I will punch them in the face.

    I have sometimes noticed hints of the painful things you have gone through in the past, and it makes my heart break. But that's why I love your blog so much - you are so unflinchingly honest. Please don't change anything. I hope you'll find that the sympathetic ears outnumber the judgmental ones.

  9. You are so sweet! Yes, people, be kind. I guess I don't have my mom on a shining pedestal either, so your mom posts were quite hysterical to me. This is an excellently worded response!

  10. I adored your posts on your mother. And admire your response to those who questioned them.

  11. i don't have the best relationship with my mother either, so i feel ya there...i also like saying it's not's MYspace:)

  12. your relationship with your mom sounds 100% like the one i have with my mom

    "First of all, I will never tell my mother about this blog, and not just because the very existence of pre-marital sex offends her on a visceral level."

    when my mother accidently found out about my lost virginity it was the worst thing that could have ever happened for me
    she FREAKED...big time, thats an incredibly mild description too
    lucky i left for france for a year a month later

    me and my mom will never be best friends either.. its quite sad...i dont know the full story of you & your mom but i think i can probably relate quite well to it