Sunday is Mother’s Day. It’s a day that fills me with dread and sadness as my mother hasn’t really fulfilled the traditional role of ‘mother’ in many, many years. And at this stage of my own advancing years, I’ve no hope that she will receive some divine awakening to an understanding that while her children are adults, our desire for a loving, devoted mother –is still something of a goal.
I have a friend who tells me to let go of my expectations for a change; mother is not going to change now. No ma’am. This friend also states that I understand that while mother’s bitter, narcissistic points of view, her smothering overlord ways, and her deeply crippling emotional abuse, were — on some level, the best she could give.
And I, having survived her ‘reign of terror’ years –well, I should understand that all of that bullshit made me the fabulous person I am today.
But those notions still don’t make me feel much better. Or make my desire for a ‘real’ mom any less. The last crumb of anything good or best quality about mother went into the ground with my father’s casket. She gave up seemingly overnight. Depression? For sure. But it’s hard to wrangle sympathy for a woman who repeatedly kitchen table gossiped with her own children about “should’a left your father year’s ago.” That conversation was craftily framed with guilt: “…but I’ve stayed ‘cuz of you. I didn’t have a daddy but I’ve made sure you kids have one.” I can still see the wafting, lavender smoke from her KOOL cigarette as she waited for the iron to heat.
Cue Tennessee Williams. Our family dynamic swims in southern gumbo gothic. Don’t forget that dash of bitters. Meh. Most of the time I really don’t care that mother is missing in action. I’ve learned to give myself props for the good times and empathy for the bad times. Mother, in my opinion, failed to launch, period– minus her orbit the chance of her being pulled into the magnetic field of her children’s lives is not likely. We’ve grown accustom to that dark void, the lack of love, and the hollow surface conversations that define our phone calls out here in space.
Some day she’ll be gone. And I know in my heart that when that time comes it will either represent peace, closure, and a chance for healing or a spiraling nose-dive of emotional loss from depths that offer no reasonable return.