What it is

I had to see my mother this weekend. It was her birthday. She’s a toxic presence so I have learned to limit my exposure. She’s a bit like radiation: a couple x-rays a year won’t hurt you (much) but prolonged exposure will cause problems.

The lunch was fine, as those things go, but I had no response to her me-centered, woe-is-me monologues or her fantasies. She says things she believes – for the moment – that I’ve learned are figments of her imagination. Perhaps she thinks if she says them out loud, they’ll come true and she’ll become a person who can do them.

She isn’t. She won’t.

At a time when I could really use a mother, a person with overflowing empathy for her first born child, I do not have one. Usually, I get by just fine without a mother. But, when I’m around her, I have to keep my secrets to myself. I can’t tell her how I’m doing. I know what’ll happen. Her pain is always greater and I’m supposed to sympathize with her. I’m supposed to not only believe her fantasies but wholeheartedly endorse them and offer to make them realities somehow. Bend over backwards to be punished. Thank you, ma’am, my I have another?

It won’t happen.

So, I have to roll up my problems, like one would a sleeping bag after a long camping trip, and store them away and create my own empathy, be my own mother. Normally, I can do that. On occasion, I become angry and sad that I have to. But there’s really no other choice.

Apart from writing about it. And sucking it up as I’m reminded often. Deal with it. Move on. Yeah, I do. I will. But first I’d like to have my own little fantasy, thank you very much, in which there are arms to fall into, in which someone will hand me a tissue and acknowledge how hard it can be, and how it’ll eventually be okay and ask if I need anything. Pour me a glass of wine, bring me a treat made especially for me. With no strings attached.

Oh well. It is what it is. The lunch is over and the portcullis is firmly back down between us for a few more months. Hard to fend off the emails but I’ve grown adept. It’s just a thing I have to do.

It’s not easy to be one’s own mother and the mother of others at the same time but that is my life. I am moving things forward in a positive, I hope, direction even if I’m forced to dig the tunnel alone.


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