I’ve been stalling writing about this…I’ve been trying to be very zen and sweat it out on my yoga mat and not let it get to me. Trying to convince myself that it’s not so upsetting, it’s not such a big deal, that it’s just a bit off the normal spectrum. But it hurts too much.
I need to write about it. I need to share to answer anyone (especially future me) who might question why I don’t see my mom.
I was preparing to ‘forgive’ her and stop waiting for her to recognize the pain she caused me. I thought that I could just be kind to her and we could have a bit of a relationship. I was texting with her more often and talking about the weather and her bridge games and her trips to costco. It wasn’t much but it was nice. Every few days she would ask if she could see me and my kids and I’d say ‘not yet’ and she’d drop it. It was nice.
At the Passover Sedar, my son sang a traditional song (ma nishtana) beautifully. I was so proud of him and so proud of me too. I can’t remember a Passover Sedar that I didn’t spend the whole time having a panic attack upstairs. Here I was enjoying my children, enjoying the traditions, enjoying my life and being an active part of it.
So I thought maybe my mother would be proud too. Maybe she would be happy to see her grandson singing the song that she taught me. Maybe she would be happy that I was warming up to bringing her into my life by sending her a video of him. She hasn’t seen my kids or even a photo of them for 15 months (not that I’m counting…).
But I wasn’t completely kidding myself, I knew it was more likely that she would feel that I was rubbing it in her face that she could barely recognize her grandson. I was prepared for the anger but I wasn’t prepared for the response I got.
Without further ado…here is the text conversation spanning of that week:
Me: I want to send you something sweet but I don’t want you to show anyone other than my dad.
Me: Here… [attached video of the sweetest boy in the entire world singing ma nishtana]
Mom: Everyone’s just walking in to my apartment for dinner. I’ll watch this later when I’m alone.
[insert radio silence]
[insert more radio silence]
Mom: Can I see you alone this morning.
Mom: Hi Lyla. I’m just leaving a funeral. Bea was in her 90s. She had been at the Seder on Monday and was an active involved lady til she died. Her son said even though his mother lived a full life it felt like a shock and too soon. Lyla. Your Bubie [grandma] misses you. You’ll feel better to be in touch with her.
Mom: Hi Lyla. Beautiful day today. I have a friend coming soon for lunch and then we’re going to play bridge. Tomorrow morning I’ll be going to shule for yiskor. [subtle reminder that her father died 4 years ago]. Lots to do this week but I will sneak in a walk sometime if the weather stays nice. What’s doing with you?
Mom: Hi Lyla. I wonder if you know if there is somewhere to donate my wig? [subtle reminder that she had cancer]
[this was the day before a family reunion that I was obviously not attending]
Mom: I’ve tried to print a picture of Crosby from the video you sent me. I watched it many, many times. But I can’t figure how. Do you have a recent picture of the kids that I could have?
Ya. So, that happened. Why is this feeling so familiar? O right- because it’s the way I felt when I finally gave in to the pestering and said yes to my dad’s request to see the kids on the day he suggested to see them but then he remembered that he had to fix the dishwasher that day. Might as well have told me he had to wash his fucking hair…
You hound me and guilt me to let you into my life and when I finally show you my kid (who is by all accounts, the sweetest boy ever), you respond with silence, you ignore him and he’s not even there…and then a request for photos that you can show your stupid friends.
I know my mother too well. I know that she just doesn’t know how not to punish me for the grave infraction of living my life without her. I can’t blame her but it still stings. She would have been happier if I had sent her a time lapse video of my crying in bed every day for the past year to explain why I haven’t seen her. Rather than evidence that I am a mother with happy children.
She punishes me so subtly, for living my own life, using a weapon she’s perfected… selectively withholding her love.
I guess I am a glutton for punishment because I know I’ll keep coming back trying to get that love that she will never give me.
This post has been really hard to write. Happy Mother’s Day.