Sunday, November 09, 2008

What Is She Trying to Say?

Mom lives roughly four miles from here. For the couple of years prior to Tom and getting married, Corey and I lived with her. A few years before that, she and I were neighbors in the same apartment complex. One of my childhood friends, Mary, lived with her then. Mary's whole world revolves around children, unlike my mom's, so Corey ended up spending quite a bit of time over there. Mom benefited from Mary's desire to hang out with my boy. As Corey got older, Mom has enjoyed having him around, too. She frequently requests his presence at her place on the weekends. This is for him, too, since he has friends in her neighborhood, but she truly likes to have him around.

When Tom and I first got married, we had Mom over for dinner all the time. It was a nice way to adjust to the separation, but money was tight, so after a while, the invitations dropped off.

When I was pregnant with Mad, I think it threw Mom for a loop somehow. She loves, admires and respects Tom in a way that she never did feel for my first husband, so I know it wasn't about him. In fact, it got to be that she raved about how great he was every time I talked to her... to the point of saying that I was lucky to have him. While this is true, I am lucky to have Tom in my life, I would hope that it goes both ways.

In any case, I'm not sure if Mom felt like she didn't belong in my life or if I had said or done something that made her feel uncomfortable calling or what. We typically speak four to five times a week, but calls dwindled to mostly me calling while I was pregnant. Occasionally Mom would say things like, "I don't want to be a bother"and "I know you're busy so I'll keep this short" when we did speak.

I invited her to one of my prenatal visits so she could hear the baby's heartbeat and she declined. Well, not exactly declined, but said she'd have to check her calendar (not even paraphrasing here) and get back to me. She did not get back to me. My dad went, even though he has no blood ties to me... he was married to Mom when I was 5-15. My best friend Nance went every chance she got, and of course, Tom was there every time. (Corey went because he had to... it creeped him out to hear the heart beating... he said it sounded like an alien.) I know that my mother-in-law would have gone if she'd been out here during one of my appointments, but my mother acted as though it was something to get out of doing.

Mom was there during my labor and delivery... out in the hall during the delivery per my request, but she heard Mad's first cries just as she'd heard Corey's 15 years earlier. A few days after we (finally) brought Mad home, Tom's parents came to town from outside of Chicago. Normally they stay at our place, but for this occasion stayed in a nearby hotel for five days. We saw them every day, of course, but they also did some sightseeing around the region, so they weren't here all day every day. Two months later, my in-laws had still spent more time with Mad than my own mother.

In July, Judy (MIL) came out to visit for a week. This time she did stay at our place. We were quite a pair, she and I. The day she arrived, I pulled a bunch of muscles in my neck and shoulder, so I could barely move. Nance had to pick her up from the airport. Judy would probably have rented a car if her leg wasn't in an ankle-to-hip brace because she'd shattered her knee in May.

Mad will be seven months old on Wednesday. I should really stop keeping track of how far behind my mom is, but it hurts that she doesn't make the effort to come over.

Over the past couple of months that I've been back to work, Nance occasionally asks if my mom has seen Madelyn. Ninety percent of the time the answer has been no. It's especially hard for Nance to understand where Mom's coming from, since Nance feels she is on the other side of the same dilemma. She would love to have a better relationship with her adult daughter, but Kristen holds her back. Nance and my mom chat via email every once in a while, and I do wonder if Nance puts thoughts out there for Mom to consider.

About two weeks before I started teaching again (not my day job... classes started up about three weeks after I went back to "work"), Mom, Mad and I started hanging out on "guy night." This had to stop during my classes, because guy night typically happens while I'm out teaching. When I was struggling with the decision to stop teaching two-thirds of my classes, Mom actually suggested that I quit so that she and Mad and I could hang out more often on guy nights. Lately she has taken to suggesting we get together on her day off while waiting for my classes to end. But we never make specific plans and nothing ever happens.

The most recent development has been that Mom is now stressing how important it is that she gets to spend some time with Madelyn, even while not making any real plans. She seems to understand that Mad doesn't know who she is, and won't if she doesn't high-tail it over here. I agree completely. Mom's only 60, but most of those 60 years have not been spent taking good care of herself. It worries me that she won't be around... well... forever, I guess. For all of my independence (and there's a lot, to be sure), I do need my mom. And she has always been there for me when I have really, truly needed her, just not always when I would like for her to be.

So tonight I emailed Mom and laid out my availability for this Thursday (her day off). Hopefully she'll be available. Hopefully I won't forget with my sleep-deprived brain if she is up for it.


Lady with a View said...

Shan - my parents and I have our own relationship issues that allow me to relate to this blog. For me - I had to quit taking them so personally. It sounds just wrong when you say that out loud - but it's the truth.

It could be that your Mom is feeling displaced somehow - but that isn't on you. You have tried to invite her in and to bridge the gap.

I have found that being direct is the best method to find out WHY the gap is created. Sometimes, my parents will answer honestly and openly - other times I get passive/agressive behavior. if she doesn't set aside some time on Thursday - I would tackle the issue head on. Who knows - maybe she has a new boyfriend.....or something else in her life that is taking her time.

With my parents - I had to get to the place where I really understand that people can't be who we want them to be - or even who we need them to be - they can only be who they are - in my case, flawed is the word I use to describe them (which probably describes all of us to some degree).

Tiana said...

I, well kinda, know what you mean. My mom and I were so close that when I moved in with Shannon we were almost always meeting with each other to have lunch or dinner. There were even times when we'd be talking and she would be getting off work at around 11pm and we'd decide to go get Denny's or something, just to hang out and talk and eat. Moving to Long Beach certainly has taken a toll on me. I get to see my mom about once a week, on Saturdays when we drive out there to bowl. I don't really get to spend time with her though and that makes me sad. Sometimes, when I have the free time and the money for gas, I'll drive out there mid-week, but that has become less and less. I keep trying to get her to move to Long Beach. I just know that once we start having kids it will be rough on both my mom and myself not having her around the kids everyday. I can only imagine how I would feel if I were in your position and my mom was on the "least seen" list of visitors. I know that right now, a lot about seeing my mom comes down to me feeling like driving out and visiting. My mom doesn't have a car right now, so that makes it even more on me to go out there, but when she did have a car she worked all the time, so she still didn't have the time to come visit always. Maybe your mom feels like you're not making enough of an effort. I know that sounds strange, why doesn't she make an effort to see her grandbaby, but you really never know what people think. You might have to take the ball out of her court, ask her when she's free, and then tell her you're coming over (or going to lunch with her or whatever). Maybe if you take the first step, she'll be more willing to take the second. Just a thought.

Rose said...

Wow. It sounds to me like you really need to talk to your mom and tell her how you feel. I understand it is a lot harder to talk to family than anyone else. my situation is similar, my dad had a stroke about 7 years ago, and since then my mom has pretty much devoted her time to working and rushing home to take care of my dad. He's ok, his mind is all there and he can still get around, just not very well, and his eyesight is very poor. She works two jobs (which I admire her for) to make ends meet since my dad can't work. however, the situation makes it so that her time with her children and grandchildren is limited. My son Chase is 3 years old and my mom had babysat him twice. And I know that if I want my son to have a relationship with my mom or my dad I have to make the effort to take him out to see them, as my mom goes straight home after work (I think it's because she's scared something might happen to him when she's not home and she would never forgive herself) and my dad can't drive. I rarely ask anything of my mom, even regarding my kids because it always feels like an inconvenience. SO! I can totally understand how you feel slighted that you mom isn't making the effort, although in my situation I have pretty much accepted that this is the way it's going to be, for now anyways. It scares me too that my parents are getting on in age, and my dad had a heart attack at 36, so his track record isn't the greatest. Anyways, I really just wanted to say thanks for commenting on my blog, it's nice to know that someone is reading it, but your post on your page touched me...hope it works out for you guys. :)

Shan said...

Thanks for your comments. Each of you has something a little different... or maybe the same thing from a different angle. I appreciate your perspectives.

Mom did respond to the email and we are tentatively on for Thursday afternoon. I think I'll have to continually think of it being one of those "the ball's in my court" deals, because she just doesn't always remember to play otherwise.


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