My Mother, My Self: My Nerves

I know I can't be the only woman out there that dreads all the gushing and foaming of Mother's day ads and commercials. These ads always make me feel as though I was in the incorrect line when mother/daughter relationships were given out.  I feel like I got the Charlie Brown rock relationship instead of the creamy chocolate and caramel with peanuts relationship.

If you follow my blog, you know that I had, at best, a contentious relationship with my mother.  Our interaction always felt like I was trying to tear free; like I was trying to get out of her shadow long enough to find my own light.

After my mother's death, it was an equally exhausting battle not to sink under the stockpile of lost moments and regrets about things that would never happen.  I admit I do envy those daughters that are still able to go shopping or talk with their mothers. But soon I remember that these were not easy things to do with my mother. Well, not consistently anyway. I never knew which mom I was going to get on any given day. Preparing to visit my mother was more like girding my loins for emotional battle. I  prepared for every conceivable angle of disapproval or constructive criticism about everything from my hairstyle, to the clothes I was wearing and how I was living my life.

And although it's a surprise to me, I still miss my mother, especially this time of year; even though everything always seemed so messy and confused with ill defined boundaries set on both sides that neither one of us found particularly satisfying. I think I disappointed her as much as she disappointed me in so many ways.  And I still wonder if there was a path, however narrow, that I could have forged through all that mess.

And even through the always present frustration of wanting to break away and wanting to be closer, I have to confess that I miss her being a phone call away. I miss seeing her through the big bay kitchen window when I pulled up into the driveway when she would make strong coffee and peppers and eggs piled between thick sliced Italian bread. I miss her African violets all lined up against that window showing off their purple and pink flowers while the television blared in the corner and the cat jumped onto the table no matter how many times we shushed him away. I miss raiding the pantry closet for fresh baked pizzelle and Stella D'oro sesame biscuits to dip into steaming, strong coffee.

I miss sitting in that kitchen when my own depression and anxiety had no more words. Or, when I didn't want to think anymore or try to explain or figure out the complications of my life. How odd to realize now that it was the place I could go when I just wanted to sit and drink coffee and stare out that big window and into the woods around her house because I didn't need words or advice or sermons, just a hot cup of coffee, a home made pizzelle and her sitting there with me.

And for all the things I thought we didn't have, I realized too late, that we did have these moments when all contentions faded into the background. These moments when we could simply share a cup of coffee, a homemade pizzelle and I really did have her all to myself.


Linda Joy Myers said...

HI Joan,
I found your post on the Memoir community at WD. Yes I totally know what you are talking about, as I had that kind of mother too, and always felt queasy at Mother's day. I wrote about mothers and the path to forgiveness in my memoir Don't Call Me Mother. I wish you luck this week with your feelings, and know that the healing continues on for years and years. We know that writing and tell our truth helps!
Linda Joy
National Association of Memoir Writers

Joan Hanna said...

Hi Linda,
Thank you so much for posting and sharing your link to your website. I think there are a lot of us out there dreading this holiday.

I would love to get a copy of your memoir. Can you send me a link? I didn't see it on the books page.

aig63 said...

Hi Joan, your post resonating particularly well with me also. While my mother is still alive, it seems there are other family members who just do Mother's Day better for her than I can :(
Thanks for sharing and I will reflect on your words!

Joan Hanna said...

Thanks so much, I loved your blog!

Elizabeth Young said...

Hi Joan, I related to your post a lot. Even worse for me is Father's Day. Nowadays I actually prefer to spend any special day alone rather than have misunderstandings, stress and an inordinate amount of work and expense which I can no longer do or provide. My four grown children have lives of their own. They might call so they feel they've done their duty, but that's it. When I was growing up in England 'Mothering Sunday' was more associated with the Church, and children would receive beautiful cards at the front of the Church to give to their mother's right then in the Church. It was simple and public, naive yet profound and everyone loved it.

Mary Akers said...

Beautiful, Joan. Love can be so very complicated.

lilin said...

I like your blog.Welcome to true religon jean!It may give you a surprise.

Joan Hanna said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. I am always so fascinated at how volatile this closest of relationships becomes. I've been working on a nonfiction manuscript about this for a while now and find that I still haven't reached the distance needed to fully explore it.

Late at night I wonder what my daughter's memoir about me would be like ... the cycle is frightening.