the art of being my mother

Centered on the living room wall when I was growing up was a drawing that tore at me. It was of a woman, clearly weary, her head in one hand looking off to her left, a sleeping child draped over the other arm.

Not sure what was going  on here, but it was clearly important.
Not sure what was going on here, but it was clearly important.

While I now see the beauty in this art, as a child I believed my mother identified with it because of her own weariness with her lot in life, namely, me, and I felt a great deal of guilt over what I’d done to her.

We didn’t get along, my mother and me, until after my stepfather died when I was 28. By her own admission, her focus then changed from wife to mother.  It took us years to work through all the barriers. Issues remain today, but they aren’t the structure of our relationship.

I see her getting older and I’m constantly mindful of the fact she’s only a few years away from the age her parents were when they died. She’s on a fixed income and can barely afford her own needs month to month, yet she still jumps at the chance to give to me.

That’s what moms do, I guess, at least it’s what my mom does. I resisted it inside myself until I realized how important it was to her. I turn around and send her money when I can to help her in any small way.

A few years ago I went through terrible times, and it left its mark on me long after that. I was so deep in the pain of it myself I didn’t fully realize what my mom went through each day, wondering what I was undergoing and imagining the worst.

I need to keep to myself what is mine to know.

I hold back on telling her everything because it is too difficult to express. I don’t know that she should know all the details. I need to keep to myself what is mine to know.

Perhaps she did identify with the woman in that drawing, for reasons I’ll never really know. As one of the few pieces of art she’s kept through the years, it seemingly has meant something to her. Just as I don’t fully involve her in my experience, certainly she hasn’t fully involved me in hers.

I told her once, in a moment of reflection, what it had made me feel, and she simply said, “Really? I never knew.” Then smiled a little. “I always loved that picture.”

12 Replies to “the art of being my mother”

  1. I don’t think parents tell their children everything just as we as adult children don’t tell them everything. I think in some ways we prefer to keep the child/parent relationship rather than a relationship between two adults. Not sure if I’m making myself very clear but I know what I mean 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I know what you mean, and I agree with you. In my case, I believe it’s best for me & my mom to have our boundaries in what we tell each other. It ultimately is the most respectful thing to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad you two reconnected. And I think it is very brave of you to write about it. The honesty in this post makes it beautiful! I wish you all the luck.


  3. Being a mother always sounds like such a stressful experience. Never met a mother who didn’t describe it as such, though it’s often followed by amusement and fondness for being a mom.

    It has never appealed to me. Apparently it didn’t appeal to my mother either. After she had me, she decided not another one, so I’m an only child. 😂 And that’s despite the fact I was a good kid, which she brags about all the time. Can you imagine if I was bad? 🤔

    I’ve noticed the the older people become, the more focused they become on their relationships with their parents. I hope you and your mom find peace in your relationship, soon.

    — Alex

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Today I see that picture (from memory) a little differently. It really was beautiful. And you’re right, the older people get, the more they turn back to their parents. Again, thank you for your thoughtful response!

      Liked by 1 person

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