Yesterday, I wrote a letter to my mom. On paper. With a pen. Then I mailed it. With a stamp. At one time, these statements wouldn’t have seemed strange. At one time, people still used written letters, sent through the postal service, for regular communication. At one time, I talked to my mom. At one time, I talked to my mom at least once a week. At one time, I talked to my mom at least once a week, on the phone, or in person.
Until yesterday, this has not been that time. Until yesterday, I have not had any communication with my mom for a year plus a few days. Until yesterday.
Yesterday was my mom’s birthday.
I’m sure that Morrissey wrote the lyrics which serve as the title of today’s post about a romantic relationship, but, I think, had Morrissey been one of the pair in a mother-daughter relationship, the lyrics would remain unchanged. Despite the fact that she and I differ in some fundamental ways, there is still no doubt that I am my mother’s daughter. This fact is painfully clear every time I look in the mirror, and each time her voice issues forth from my mouth.
I don’t know my mom well as a person. She’s always been my Mom. She still occupies the Mom-space in my mind, even as I approach forty-two. And she was a good mom — she is good at momming me. At some point, though, you don’t want to be mommed anymore. She tried to express this once, when she mentioned that she wanted us to think of each other more as friends than as mother and daughter. All I thought was, “You’re not someone I would choose to be friends with.” Yeah… harsh. And grammatically incorrect. But, true. After reflecting on it, it’s definitely not because she’s not a good friend; it’s because I don’t know her in the way that friends know each other, and she doesn’t know me in that way.
My mom did not have a good time growing up. Her mom was not a good mom to her. Because of that, as she put it to me once, she set out to be and do with and to her own kids the opposite of how her own mother had been and done with her. And she succeeded. But part of shielding my brother and me from the more unpleasant parts of her life means that we didn’t get the chance to form a holistic image of her. I’m left with the Mom image, and missing the Linda image.
I am grateful that my mom gave me her tenacity, her focus, her intellect, and her wit. I am beyond grateful that she did not pass on her anxiety and fear, brought on by the traumas she’s experienced in this world. I’m truly glad that she did not share that with me. But she also hasn’t ever shared her political beliefs — I don’t know who she’s voted for, ever. She hasn’t shared what she wanted to be when she grew up, or who her first celebrity crush was. She hasn’t told me why she believes in God, or named the person whom she most admires.
So yesterday, I wrote a letter to my mom, and I asked her. I wrote a letter to my mom. On paper. With a pen. Then I mailed it.
Do you have a difficult relationship in your life? If so, how do you navigate it?