My mom can drive me crazy. We deliberately did not move to the same city my dad and mom live (together, for 30+ years) because we did not want to live near them, and specifically, her.
My mom has said some awful things to me. Some direct: “Remember when you had that horrible, disfiguring acne?” Some less direct: “Don’t worry, well get your teeth fixed.” or “We’ll get your moles removed.” (Why was I so self-conscious for most of my childhood and teens?)
Of course, now she sleeps down the hall from us. We live in her house. We need her four evenings a week and my husband sees her in the mornings. She’s been relatively well behaved. I think the vasectomy chat (where she offered to pay for one) was a little out of her realm of concern but so far she’s been fine.
We were having a conversation about medicine and diagnosis and how difficult it is to get correctly diagnosed. About two years before Small was born I became severely depressed and told them. My mom totally minimized it. It hurt but I moved on. Then the other night she said, “Weren’t you taking pills for depression before?”
Nope, I answered. I was on Paxil for four days before I went in to the hospital. That was the first of my psychiatric drugs.
“I thought you took them for a long time and all that crying when she was first born was her going through withdrawal.”
I suppose it was an easy mistake to make, but it ticked me off. I can almost hear her telling her sisters, “Well, the baby is colicky, but it’s because of Malakoa’s crazy pills.”
Well, maybe (probably) she didn’t do that; She didn’t want to be ashamed of me. But it makes me crazy that she usually doesn’t ask questions; she assumes she knows.
My diagnosis were as follows: Post-partum depression. Major depressive disorder and Bipolar disorder. They all took place over a four day span. It was two years later the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder. Those diagnosis followed close behind each other.
Who cares though? There are other interesting things in the world, like, everything else. And in this case, Moms.
Ephesians teaches us “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
We’ve taught Small to obey us, she’ll answer the reason why, “So all will go well with you.”
“”Honor your father and your mother.” There is no age limit on honoring our mothers. I don’t have to ‘obey’ her – my responsibility of obedience extends to my little family – my husband. But honor – what does it look like?
I’m still figuring it out. She is not here for more than a couple of hours a night. I don’t pay tithes to her (I don’t pay anything at all.) She comes up with some random ideas; She tries to make things like putting the baby to sleep more complicated than they need to be. But she also is very generous. If my husband is working late she’ll take us all out to dinner. She brings little presents to Small, and also to me. She found my husband the best inversion table possible for his birthday (bet you’re jealous). Gifts are easy for her. She does a great job with them.
She’s growing on me. It’s not bribes, but the fact that age, and work, have straightened her. She doesn’t say mean things like she used to (I can say a few mean things myself.)
She’s growing as a person, something I think I forget a mom can do. I want to freeze her so I don’t have to adjust how I act around her. I want her to be the shiny ebony haired beauty making us macaroni and cheese in our white and red tiled kitchen. I want her to be that ecstatic woman coaching us in creative competition. But I also want the know-it-all mom, who always said “I told you so” who predicted I would get in to the Conservatory, and when I didn’t predicted it would be another year. Part of me wants that back. I know how to deal with those moms, the black haired mom I worshiped as a child. I even know how to close myself off to the older, crueler things she did or said, but I am a Christian now. I am learning how to be the daughter God wants me to be. Even though I am a wife and mother, I am still a daughter and I still have a testimony to the woman I must honor if I want the things her honor promises me. I’m starting to believe the more I honor her, the more worthy she becomes of that honor. I committed about a year and a half ago to not get mad at her no matter what she said or did. It’s been both freeing and difficult. Sometimes I am mad upstairs, but most of the time I can just swallow it. There is no point in engaging her.
But it would be wrong to freeze her in time. My grandmother was a wonderful woman but she didn’t like adult or even grandchildren, only little children. In the year before she died she’d come up with the strangest things. For example, they had a bedroom in the house with a gorgeous antique bed and a large vanity with a marble top. I don’t remember where they came from, but do remember they were heirlooms. She told everyone that the granddaughters all thought it was their room. Her youngest granddaughter was in middle school; not one of us thought it was our room.
This is an example of wanting people to be frozen in time. She enjoyed us as children more than as adults, so she never dealt with us as adults. (Except for dating, she was interested in that – and her granddaughter, who she hung on to life to meet). I loved her; I love her; but I resented her for not letting me grow up. I was as good a granddaughter at eight as I was at 28.
I don’t want to do that to my mom. I can’t freeze her in time to being the mom I knew how to relate to; I can’t hang on to her that way. I don’t want to. What I want to do is cultivate something new; something good, albeit something difficult