Thursday, June 19, 2014

Contemplation



This was tonight's sky when I took the dog out for an evening stroll.  I was in a contemplative mood.  I haven't had much time to reflect on, and process things lately, so thoughts have been stewing on the back burner of my mind, just on simmer, waiting for me to find time to process them.  Tonight was finally the night to figure out what to do.  It is my mother's 79th birthday today.  I have not spoken to her since March 22nd, the day my niece was born.  Everyone said I should be the bigger person and speak to her, after all, it's not like she's not going to change.  That reasoning didn't make sense to me.  

Nobody, at any level, in any place in my life, behaves the way my mother does.  I do not tolerate meanness, bullying, jealousy, manipulation, or lying in any of the people I associate with, yet because this woman is related to me, I'm supposed to allow her venom in my life and allow her to hurt people I care about.  I've been doing that for years, but when I went back to Ohio for the birth of my niece, I couldn't do it anymore.  

My sister asked me to run interference with our mother, keep her out of the delivery room as much as I could, because my sister had to focus on her very difficult pregnancy, and delivering a large baby at the age of 47.  It was the very least I could do for her.  The whole week I was there, waiting for the baby to arrive, my sister was very weak, tired, in pain.  I was seriously concerned the baby would kill her, but she was so determined to have this baby, and have a natural childbirth.  Since the baby wasn't coming and my sister was getting weaker, the doctor decided to induce.  We knew the day before that the doctor would induce labor at six o'clock the next morning.  

So the night before induction, my sister, K, who was the mommy-to-be, my mother, my sister, D, who flew in from Massachusetts, and myself, are sitting in K's livingroom talking about the impending birth.  My mother is getting all wiggly in her seat, you can see she's excited about something, she's smiling with this nasty grin on her face.  She says to K, "I can't wait to be in the delivery room to hear you scream.  You're finally going to know how it feels.  That baby is gonna rip you end to end."

I responded immediately, shocked, offended, protective of my sister.  I said, "what is wrong with you?  Who says stuff like that?  You're not going to hear her scream because you're not going to be in the delivery room.  Her husband will be there, not you.  And who tells a pregnant woman the night before she's induced that her baby will rip her end to end?  Women have large babies every day and do just fine.  What is wrong with you!"  My mother just sat there glaring at me.  I purposely repeated every word back to her when I said all that so she couldn't deny what she said, or twist things into something else.  She's an excellent manipulator of facts, people, and emotions.  

Of course there is a long history of abuse in our family, generations long.  I have made excuses for my mother for years, "she did the best she could, considering her horrible childhood."  That was always enough for me to ignore her meanness over the years.  Something was different this time.  I remember thinking.  I would never say something like that to my daughter.  Where are my mother's maternal instincts?  I thought to myself, I had a horrible childhood too, abusive, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I don't behave like that.  Why does my mother behave this way?

I know my mother knows better.  She has had decades of seeing good parenting by her own children. She can control this behavior, and does when others are around.  I just couldn't accept it any longer.  If I could grow up in the hellish home she provided for us, and not abuse my own children, why couldn't she do the same?   My sister, K, says, she's too old to change, you know how she is.  Then I wonder, if we had all put our foot down years earlier and refused to accept this behavior, would she be different now?  

There was more that happened the next day.  My mother was itching for a fight.  She wanted to create a scene, drama, make herself out the victim.  Within minutes of my niece's birth, my mother verbally attacked me in the hospital corridor.  Yelling at me, trying to play a helpless, old woman, who's rude daughter was not showing her the respect she deserved, swearing at me.  

I tried to calm her down.  I tried to reason with her.  She would not be satisfied until there was a scene.  I wouldn't allow her to do that.  I wouldn't allow her to upset my sister at the moment when she should be happy.  So after realizing reasoning with my mother wasn't accomplishing anything, the only way I could diffuse the drama was to leave.  She yelled at me to "get the hell out of here."  I looked her in the eye and said, "Really?"  Then smiled, the most gentle smile I could, because I didn't want to be sarcastic, I didn't want to give her anything to complain about, I said, "have a nice day," and left the hospital.  

I didn't care if I ever saw her or spoke to her again.  The odd thing was, I wasn't mad at her, I wasn't even hurt.  I was just tired.  I was just done.  It was like there was nothing left in me to continue playing these games with her.  M and my friends all thought I was right to stand up to my mother, but they also worried that if she died, I would feel bad about not speaking to her again.  I assured them I wouldn't, but they convinced me to reach out to her.  So I sent her a birthday card, she never called to say she received it, like she normally would have done.  I also called her, she was home but didn't take my call, so I left a message wishing her a happy birthday.  I spoke to my sister, K, after that call, to let her know I reached out, I wasn't doing any more.  

K said our mother told her I was bullying her and that's why she hasn't been speaking to me.  Well if that's the story she wants to believe, let her.  So now that I've gotten all that off my mind, maybe I can find my way forward to more pleasant topics.  

Lake Ontario

I've taken to strolling the shores of Lake Ontario lately.  I like that it's no longer tourist season so the dog and I can have the ...