12/23/06

Growing Up - Mothers Be Good To Your Daughters

Without getting too much into how backward & dysfunctional my mom's side of the family is, I'll just say that it always felt like it was me and them. Or them & me. I love my mom & her side of the family the way you love breathing. They were not at all encouraging, positive or "right". I somehow always felt smothered & any move I made in a positive direction would land me with remarks like: "you think you're so much better....", and "just because you do _____, don't think you're any better than us.", and "you're going to end up pregnant at 16, just like you're mother." Yeah. Needless to say, that my mother carried on her own traditions of negativity & smothering. I felt like the very essence of my personality was something to be extinguished. And man, did she (& they) try. It was with that, that I became rebellious. Actually, the whole chicken & the egg theory could apply here. Based on genetics, I think I had a very strong pull towards rebelliousness, but by trying to do the very thing she didn't want, my mom ended up with that exact thing. Fundamentally, on every level, my mom & I are just far apart on everything. She's ultra-pure conservative. I'm ultra-liberal. She's bible beating religious. I'm more of a spiritual-to-myself type person. She's not into anything intellectual. I am. And so on, and so on. My mom & I have traveled a long, hard road together. Me feeling uncared for, pushed aside, trampled on & barely provided for, emotionally, as well as, my mother's keeper. I imagine my mother has her feelings too, but I can't speak for her.

When Ravioli & I got pregnant, I vowed to never inflict any of the madness that I was exposed to on the baby-to-be Connor. None of the instability, the emotional warfare, the stifling of the personality. And that's just the stuff that I can mention here. I vowed a different life for my children. 5 years later, I falter. I stumble & bumble & barely can find my way sometimes. But I know that I am in-tune with my children.

Last year was a tough year. I felt all alone as a parent, as a woman. I was fighting innumerable battles in my attempt to find help for my son to overcome whatever was going on with him. I knew in my gut 'something' was going on. But everywhere I turned, I got the "you're crazy.", "he's just a boy.", "he's immature." and the like. It got old. It got old feeling so alone. Through so much strife and toil, we finally figured out what was going on with Connor, got him some help, got him in a preschool program that fits him & all is well. I'll never forget how vindicated I felt when we finally got a diagnosis & lastly, when we finally got him into the preschool. I didn't want a public declaration that I am "The World's Best Mother" or anything like that. I just wanted people to say, "You are his mother. You know what's best for him. Good for you for fighting the good fight for him." In a word: validation.

And most of all, though I had given up on the notion long ago, validation from my mother. To her daughter. As a (now) mother. I never thought the day would come. But it did. And it felt better than I ever thought it would. And I needed it more than I ever thought I would.

We were on the phone (my mom & I) and she said how she ran into an old acquaintance, who had asked about Connor & Gracie. My mom told them how they were doing and said, "Tabitha has done such a great job with them. I couldn't have asked for a better mom for those two kids than her. She does such a great job." I was stunned when she told me. And maybe the friend scenario didn't happen. That may have just been her way of relating the story. All I know is that my mom has grown up. I am still growing. And that is a huge step along the road that my mom & I have traveled together.

5 ripples in the pond:

mafalda's daughter said...

a lot of us are writing about our mothers now. it seems maybe the festive season makes us more reflective.

i too come from a not very validating mothering experience (psychobabble or what?) and i am sure it has made me much better as a mum myself. or maybe not better, just more there.

i have a son with special needs and i know the whole thing of them not doing what they are supposed to at particular ages, coupled with a vague idea in my head that there was a "bad-mother" gene somewhere in me, made it really tough. but i have slowly come round to the idea that my childhood fitted me out as a fighter to be the kind of mum my son really needed. i suspect that is true for you too.

jen said...

wow. i know you know i can relate - how amazing that she's trying...sometimes that is the best and most we can ask for.

i am sorry you didn't get the mother you needed, tab. i truly am.

love you, girl.

Oh, The Joys said...

Tabba - great post.

My mom had me when she was 19 so I can relate to your struggle. It's a bit easier with my mom and I now that I am a mom, understand how hard it is and that she was so young...

Pippajo said...

I really really want to comment on this, but just don't have the time at the moment...this is such a hot topic with me as I'm coming to the end of an extremely strange and difficult year with my Mom, and things always seem to be worse with her at Christmas. In fact, we're going out to dinner with her and my dad (still separated) in about an hour and I can feel my stomach slowly twisting itself into indigestion-inducing knots. Sigh.

But I will either be back, or I will just devote an entire post to my relationship with my Mom. I'm sure I'll be ready for a good purge after Christmas and New Year's is over.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas, by the way!

deb said...

I remember my daughter's first year when I knew something was wrong but we didn't know what and how crazy I felt. When we finally were told she is handicapped my mum didn't handle it well, she's good now though. Mums and daughters are hard on each other, I think my sixteen year old would attest to that. I guess all we can do is our best and hope for the best.