Mommy Dearest

05/13/2009 11:14

Dear Speakeasy,

Growing up I had a rocky relationship with my mom. She left the home when I was 12 and found a new life that included drinking and another man. I rarely saw her and I couldn't even go to her for help picking out a prom dress without her being drunk or blaming me for everything. She recently died and although towards the end we had resolved some issues I still can't help feeling anger towards her. Is that okay and how to I get past it? -- K


 What Mary Says...  What Crystal Says...

Dear K:

First of all, I am so sorry for your loss. Whether it was a good or bad relationship there is a something (I think) with the bond between a mother and child. In any case, I could’ve written this e-mail myself, as the relationship I had with my mother was very similar. She died six years ago and previous to her dying she did apologize for some things she had done in the past. While it helped me sew up the tear, it didn’t completely heal the scar.

Grief is a funny thing. It can leave a lot of unresolved issues and questions. I can tell you there’s no wrong way to feel and I think it’s OK that you’re angry. Your mother let you down during some very big moments in your life.

My thought is this: celebrate and embrace the good things about your Mom and pass those on. As for the bad stuff you recall I don’t know if you ever truly “get over it.” I would try to work on forgiving. That sounds so trite, doesn’t it? But it would help YOU. And I have no easy remedy for forgiveness. I took a look at my Mom’s life and tried to imagine some things that she had to endure and while it doesn’t excuse the behavior, it helped me understand her a bit more.

 It took me quite a while to forgive my mother for what she’s done, but I have. I just haven’t forgotten. And that’s OK, too. And it can happen to you, K. Might not be now and it might not be next year, but my hope for you is that you eventually find a peaceful relationship with your Mom, even after death.                                    










Dear K:

I would be pissed as hell. 

Do you ever see those roadside accident sites where people continue to leave balloons or flowers? Or a friend who even after 5 years won’t date because “no one could be like them”? At the same time that it is sweet, and it is sweet, it’s also incredibly sad. Because with continued devotion to something gone, people are often unable to move on, stuck constantly wishing and pining for a reversal in time.  And I’m afraid that, until they figure out wormholes, breaking the time/space continuum to try it all again just ain’t gonna happen.

When we lose a parent, whether by death or by their own stupidity while they’re alive, we mourn. I mean, why wouldn’t we? Having a defunct parent means losing that wonderful childhood ideal that mommy and daddy will always be there – that unspoken promise that they will always guide us and keep us safe. They are, after all, our parents. They made us. They must love us enough not to be jackasses, right? So just like any other dream, just like any other death, when things don’t come true or are lost, we mourn. 

It’s hard. We just don’t see our parents are people - people who have made the same (or more) mistakes that we’ve made. Should they have fixed their crap before they had kids? You bet your ass. Do they? Unfortunately, not usually. 

You must allow yourself to mourn. Mourn her loss as well as her failure to be who you needed her to be, who you deserved her to be. Remember that there are no wormholes –what you wanted to happen will never happen. Release your mother from the constraints of your ideal just as you would throw away a worn out teddy bear that no longer comforts.  And then? Then, you move on. You go be the woman she never was, because the world needs good women. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who gets to have a child, remember that your child will need you to be the best version of you that you can possibly be, with or without the guidance of a mother who never was.




















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