Here’s the conundrum I face (and others as well, I’m sure!)…how to balance the everyday annoyances and challenges I face in my relationship with my mom (issues that have really always been there to one degree or another and continue to be) with the knowledge that she is aging and will not always be here.
On the one hand, while our relationship has vastly improved as a result of my work on this website, she and I continue to struggle from time to time with our differences, our history, our conflicts. There are still times we get so angry at each other that we even stop talking for a bit (it used to be for longer stretches…now it’s usually limited to overnight). There are still some occasions when she says things that bring me back to childhood or adolescence and make me see “red” or that hurt me. There are still times I lash out and lose patience and grit my teeth as I let out a long drawn out “Moooommmmm.”
But then there are also times when I stop and realize that she won’t always be here. I dread the inevitable…the day she is no longer here to “drive me crazy” or me her. When I won’t be able to pick up the phone to tell her something funny, ask her advice or just to find out how she is.
This balancing act became increasingly evident this past weekend when we traveled together to a big family event. It was a lot of “quality time” to spend together and we were both stressed from the travel and lack of normal routine. There were occasional bouts of impatience, buttons got pushed, criticisms were thrown…I guess it was all very “normal” really. I annoyed her, she annoyed me, and all was right with the world I suppose.
But then there was also the other side of it. It was nice that my mom at 88 (and a half, as she always says) was able to be there. My niece had two grandmas and a grandpa there to cheer her on at her high school graduation. Another graduate’s 90 year old grandmother sat in front of me at the ceremony and there were many other aging faces in the crowd. That was really nice to see. Three generations of family, love and support.
Then when I got home Laurie and I got to work adding a new article to the Loss of Mom section of the website. Reading through this article got me thinking even more. I do try to keep it in my awareness that my mom is only here for a limited time and I want to appreciate her (most of the time I think I do), but at the same time, the everyday annoyances are still there. I often wonder why can’t she change? Why can’t she do things differently or act a different way? Why can’t she just stop criticizing me already for things that I may or may not have done 30 years ago? But then I feel guilty and wonder why I can’t just accept her as she is? How can a “good daughter” think this way? And if I’m aware that she won’t always be here, then why can’t I just get along with her better on a more consistent day-to-day basis?
I have no answer. Relationships are hard; especially those between mothers and daughters. They just are. But they are also unique and special and, at least in my case, loving. I will just keep trying. I’ll try to be patient, try to find the positive, try to ignore the small stuff and look at the bigger picture. I’ll just try to keep the balance.