Today marks 4 weeks since my mother died.
People keep telling me the pain, the sorrow, the shock, will fade.
When will I wake up and immediately not remember she’s gone? When will I stop crying at the most inopportune times? When will I be able to feel like myself – whole – again?
No answers come back. I understand that. Grieving is different for every person.
I was thinking last night about the differences in how my mother and I were raised.
My mother was the middle child of three girls. The oldest was the shining star of both her parents. Smart, Dependable. Independent. Loyal.
The youngest was my grandmother’s favorite. Why? Only the old woman knew, but after my grandfather died, it was the youngest upon whom she bestowed her smothering love.
My mother, the middle, was her least favorite, something my grandmother told her – actually spoke words to her about – often after her husband passed on. I think I can answer this one with ease: Why did the old lady dislike her so much? Because my mother was my grandfather’s favorite and he made no secret about it. From everyone I ever talked to back then who knew them all – namely the old aunts and uncles in the family when they were all still alive – my mother was the apple of his eye.
She wasn’t smart like her older sister.
She wasn’t as pretty as the youngest.
What she was, was funny, outgoing, sang like an angel – just like him – and thought the man hung the moon.
Apparently, my grandmother was jealous.
I can’t conceive of how a wife would be jealous of a child, but the old lady was, and kept being so, until her dying day. Which, was when she was 86, exactly 53 years after he died. Yup, she was 33 years old when he had a major heart attack and died on his way to work.
Since my mother was raised with the knowledge she wasn’t loved by her own mother, and basically ignored, my mother raised me in the exact opposite way. My grandmother’s way certainly wasn’t healthy for a child’s psyche.
But my mother’s tendency toward her own version of smother love wasn’t either.
She went out of her way, every single day when I was under her roof, to – in her words – protect me from the world. That meant I wasn’t allowed to bring any friends I may have made home after school because she didn’t want other kids corrupting what she was trying to teach me.
Subsequently, I never invited anyone over to our house, even as a teen and then as an adult. I had no close friends, no boyfriend, never had a sleepover at my house and didn’t attend my very first one with a “friend” until I was a senior in high school.
She called the friend’s house three times the first night and then bright and early the next morning to find out when I was coming home.
As a seventeen-year-old, I was mortified, and believe me – a huge fight ensued once I’d gotten home about how embarrassed I was. My mother counter-attacked with the “I’m trying to keep you safe” argument. Like my friends were dope fiends, or thieves, or something equally as nefarious. Which they weren’t. They also weren’t my friends for very long because they thought my mother was crazy and their mothers thought she was rude.
With the advent of maturity and age, I can understand why she acted this way. I still don’t agree with it, but I get it now that I’ve had my own child.
And I bet if you ask my daughter, there were more than a few occasions where I performed my own version of smother love.
Truer words were never written than we are all products of our upbringings, whether good or bad, abusive, or apathetic.
I tried to break the cycle when I had my child. Apparently, it’s harder to break than I realized because there are still some days when I hear my mother’s voice and words blow between my lips – as my daughter is quick to point out. LOL.
Mothers and daughters. Thousands of years of evolution haven’t changed them much, has it?
I miss you, Mommy. Every hour of every day…