Thursday, January 29, 2009

Grandmotherhood


I heard a couple of ladies talking about their grandkids the other evening. They shared about the heartache they had for their grandchildren. One lady, a new grandma was telling us about her daughter's newly born baby and how difficult it is being an hour and a half away from her new granddaughter. The other lady said: Try having a new granddaughter on the other side of the country. I just got back from visiting her over the holidays and I just cry whenever I think of her...

As they both shared the joys and heartaches of their grandmotherhood, I became teary-eyed myself. I ached for my own mother in that moment. My entire life, I thought of my mother as being overly emotional and controlling. We had a very tumultuous relationship. My father, who divorced my mom when I was two years old, had always claimed that my mother should have been institutionalized.

Now, as an adult, I realize that my father's lack of support for my mother was a monumental error and caused my mother's heart to fester and created an emotional disease that led her to an early death at age 58. Since my mother's passing and learning more about my own daughter, I realize that my mother had bi-polar, undiagnosed or realized by any of us.

All through our lives together, I fought with my mother. I couldn't understand her. I was tired of mothering her. I grew up and pushed her away from me. When I became a mother myself, I let her in, just a little, but I was not willing to allow her drama and toxicity into my new marriage and our new family.

It was two years ago this week, she was sick and in ICU. I got a phone call from the hospital. They wanted me, her only child to know that there was a possibility that they may need to have put her on a respirator. I decided to visit her, see if this drama was the real deal or if it was just another scandal to get my attention. She was a hypochondriac and a master manipulator. A snow storm formed icy road conditions which stalled my arrival to the hospital 30 minutes too late and she was put into a coma for her ventilator. She never was able to recuperate. She passed away a few weeks later.

The pain her heart must have carried around her entire life finally got the best of her. I realize I am not responsible for that pain she felt and for the choices she made. However, I can sympathize with the pain that a mother has for her child. A love that is so strong and vulnerable.

Mom, I am sorry that you weren't able to experience your grandchildren. I wish you could have gotten to know them a little longer, a little better. I wish you were around right now, today. I wish I could have shared the joys and also the burdens of my children as I try and raise them, learning about their special needs. I wish you were here so I could call you after these doctor visits and when others don't understand. I think you could have helped me better understand Sienna and her emotional challenges. You and she are so much alike. I wish I would have understood your mental conditions better before you passed away. I may have been more supportive for you. Mom. I miss you today. I still think of you, just not as often as I know you would be thinking of me.

3 comments:

Lilly's Life said...

Beautiful post. Fifty eight is way too young to go isnt it? I often think about all the people with psychiatirc illnesses who were never diagnosed and then who suffered the stigma when they were. She probably did her best which was no consolation for a small child who could be no way responsible for caring for an adult. Something tells me you have grown into an incredible woman despite all of this and that the pain you suffered makes you so very empathetic to others who also suffer. I am sure she is watching your little ones too.

Elizabeth Channel said...

Lovely and insightful as always. You handled this in the best way. You shielded your marriage and children from the pain and dysfunction. Remember that and please never feel guilty for it. You are such a good mother!

(And a good friend!)

Mrs4444 said...

Beautiful. Your mom must have really suffered; I can't imagine what it would like to have such struggles while trying to be the best mother your kids deserve. I hope your letter was healing for you to write.