"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn

"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn
it's a jungle out there

Sunday, December 6, 2009

is this a safe place to talk about our mothers?

I'm a bad daughter. Whatever. I'm not sure if I harbor resentments, or I'm just done. But I kind of am. Done, I mean. And I hope I don't live to regret it.

So my mom's in the hospital. Pleural effusion. Gunk in her lung that needed to be drained by a chest tube. And her kidneys are working at 40% and her heart isn't pumping the way they would like it to.


And I don't have much compassion or patience for it. It sounds terrible, I'm sure. Especially to those who have a fair to middlin or even good relationship with their mothers. But I'm not that girl.

My relationship was with my dad. My mom, not so much.

You reap what you sow.

So this evening I was visiting Ms. Moon, who's having a bad day. Feeling old and down. And it made me sad. Like I wanted to give her a hug and lift her spirits. Cause I know how it feels to look at yourself in the mirror and see that time is marching on. To look at your hands and see wrinkles. To look at your elbows and see wrinkles. To look at pictures from only a few years back and see cheeks plump with natural collagen.

Oh well.

So as I was having a puffy heart moment with Ms. Moon, my phone rings.
Caller ID, how do I love thee, let me count the ways...

oh yes I did

I ignored the call from my mother who is in the hospital with a hole in her chest wall from which 99cc of mucus was drained.

yes I did

straight to voice mail

And then I just felt aggravated. Aggravated and resentful and guilty. Dammit, I was visiting Ms. Moon, who's having a bad day. I didn't want to hear about lungs and kidneys and hearts. Especially from my mother.

Sister Adrienne said I get 10 demerits for not visiting our mom in the hospital today
I said I better buy me some indulgences so I don't burn in hell.

bad daughter.

but you know what?... bad mother

you reap what you sow

When my mother's mother died 8 years ago, my mom didn't go see her. She had the opportunity and the means. My grandmother was hospitalized and they knew she only had a few days left. My mom said if she was going to fly to the west coast, she'd do so for the funeral. or memorial service. or whatever. She didn't go. she never went. I'm not sure she even spoke to her mother on the phone before she died. I remember her making some vague excuses filled with obvious discomfort. She's probably disoriented... she won't remember anyway... I wouldn't know what to say

Sister Halona said just tell her you'll see her on the flip side
I loved and will always remember that

She didn't go

you reap what you sow

So this evening I'm reading about Ms Moon feeling like she's getting old... time marches on... golden years... and I relate completely. And then my mom calls my cell phone and just seeing Grums on the caller ID totally kills my Ms. Moon buzz.


I'm not sure why I'm so loathe to visit my mother or even call. I just am. Maybe because every minute of my life that we've been alone together I feel like I'm with a stranger. Someone I don't know. Someone I'm not comfortable with. Seriously. A stranger.

And it seems pretty clear that Ms. Moon and her girls, Miss Maybelle and Honeyluna and Lily, feel heart close and yummy together. Not like strangers. And I love knowing that this kind of mother-daughter relationship exists. And is possible.

you reap what you sow

And as fucked up as this may sound... Ms. Moon's the closest thing to a mama-feeling I've every experienced. She says nice things to me like good job and calls me sweet and says she worries about me and then says I'm glad you're OK. And I feel like I could put my head on her shoulder and just rest there for a minute and she'd pat my hand. Not a stranger.

There. I said it. And now my nose is stinging and my eyes are leaking.

you reap what you sow

Sister Melanie said I think you and I are more like Mommy than we'd care to admit

Aargh. I so don't like hearing that

I said to Bruce jeez, I just hope in 40 years Mia wants to be right by my side

You reap what you sow


  1. Oh do I hear you Michelle. My dad, yes, my mom, not so much. That about says it all. Do not feel guilty, you do what you can, when you can, it's about survival sometimes. I'd rather visit with Ms. Moon than deal with my real life any day, and I'm not even talking about pleural anything. You are not lame, that much I'm sure of. Just honest, and I think that's a good thing.

  2. such intense stuff -- you're brave to be so honest

  3. You reap what you sow. So true. So true. (I'm sowing like mad to hopefully reap more than my parents with four kids in therapy. ;-) )

    Big hugs to you. You just do what you need to do. For yourself. x

  4. Oh, Michelle...I love this post. You're always so honest. I don't blame you a bit for feeling the way you do. Sometimes, you just have to cut your losses. I think it's fine, as long as you aren't harboring unresolved anger about it; that's likely to fester.

    I loved the reference to your "Ms.Moon buzz." Thank God there are women among us to step in where other mothers leave spaces. Maybe you will be a Ms. Moon to someone.

    BTW, I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to use this post for that secret gift I've been talking about. K?

  5. I hear you, but with my Dad not my Mom. Very honest post.

  6. Michelle, there are few things I really truly know in this world - but that you are NOT like your mother is one of them! The way you speak of your children makes that abundantly clear. And being the intensely passionate and sensitive person that Mia is, she will have rough patches in her life - but she will never really doubt your very real love for her, and you will not be strangers.

  7. Oh girl. I hear you. I have been there. Once, when my mother was in the ER for a possible heart attack, I checked my e-mail before I left the house to go be with her. I did. So there! I knew it wasn't a heart attack. She's going to live forever. And it wasn't. It was heartburn.
    Heart burn.
    I am with a stranger when I am with my mother too. Is that my fault? Maybe. I've been thinking a lot about her today. Owen is here and I'm so happy he's here I could die. And I think about the time my mother and I were in the mall with one or two of my babies (this was when I still did stuff with my mother) and we saw an obvious grandma with her grandchildren and my mother said to me, "Don't ever expect me to take care of your children if you go back to work."
    I have never forgotten that. And now, taking care of Owen when Lily is back at work is the greatest joy of my life. How did my mother not see the possibility there? Not that I was planning on going back to work and leaving my children with her. Never.
    BUT- this is just the way things are. She has not been a loving mother to me. Maybe she was once, but not in a long, long while. She has hurt me so many times that the walls I have built are thicker than the Great Wall of China.
    For my own protection.
    And whenever I have let those walls down, I have been reminded that I need to build them higher and thicker.
    I was talking to a woman once about this- how I am probably going to regret the shit out of it when my mother dies. (She is never going to die.) And the woman said, "I had a terrible relationship with my mother and when she died, I didn't feel that bad at all."
    Is that possible? It gives me hope. Although my mother will never die.
    And since I am not mothering my children the way I was mothered, I don't expect to have the same relationship with them that I have with my mother. Of course, it is my biggest fear. But, hopefully, I have learned from my mother how NOT to be a mother and by god, I am doing my best with my kids so that they will know that I love them, that I am not a stranger, that they are my joy and my heart and my very existence.
    Not just with words. My mother gives me words. Sometimes. But with actions.
    You do the same. I know you do. And your daughter will love you unto eternity and you will never die in her heart and she will be with you always. In your hearts. And by your side if you need her. And your boys, too.
    I know it.
    Sorry to go on so long. But you are obviously in a boat I travel in and I wanted you to know you are not alone and you are not evil and we do reap what we sow.
    I love you....Mary

  8. I am just going to throw this out here....wh yare you criticizing your mom for not going to see her own mother when she was dying, yet you are in effect doing the same thing? Maybe her reasons for not doing so were just as valid as yours are, you know? As for the guilt, no matter how healthy you are, no matter how well you know that your mother, for whatever varied reasons, is a toxic person (and yes, this is me talking about my own mother, not yours, as I don't know your mom), i think there is always going to be a certain amount of guilt for not eing a good daughter, whatever the flying fuck that means. And if being a good daughter means I have to listen to my mom tear my family down, criticize my every choice even if it is 15 years later, if it means I have to trip along singing "it wasn't her fault, she did the best she could with what she had and I forgive her," then I don't want to be a good daughter. I want to be a bitch who is as cold and heartless and cruel to her as she EVEr was to me. And then I want to sow the kinds of seeds with my children that will make them drop every single thing in order to hold my hand and wet my lips and sing me through to whatever comes next.

    and i send you large hugs.

  9. For what it's worth, you are an extraordinary writer. You write with honesty and depth, and I appreciate your efforts.

    As for the mother stuff, I have little advice to give except write to help yourself sort out your feelings and create a family of choice (like it sounds like you're doing already).

  10. Kori-
    That's my whole point. I'm COMPLETELY doing the same thing. With HER, though. And trying very hard to do something different with my kids.

    sending large hugs back

  11. I thank God daily for the close relationship I have with my mom. She's my rock and best friend. I remember when I was a senior in high school she took me prom dress shopping. She'd smack my hand (not a threatening smack, just a 'don't look at that' smack) every time I tried to look at the price. She (who normally only shops clearance with a coupon) said that prom is a very special occasion and price meant NOTHING. So, I picked out a beautiful dress with sparlkes and black shoes that had sparkles...with panty hose that had sparkles. She paid for me to go to the hairdresser to get an updo.....and we went to someone to do my make up......I felt just like "Pretty Woman".

    She's amazing with the kids. She takes being a grandma seriously.

  12. I have said the same thing about Ms Moon...that she is a mother figure, and that sometimes I feel like it might be perfectly ok if I trot off down to Lloyd and lay my head on her shoulder and let her tell me a story, and call me Sweetie, and tell me I'm wonderful. She is very much that way--we are all so lucky to have that with her.

  13. You seem like a caring person to me so I can only believe that there is a whole lot of hurt going on and that your mother is indeed reaping what she sowed.

    I have a very complicated relationship with my mother. I love her and miss her when she's not around, but there is a lot of anger and I don't think it will ever go away.

    It came as no surprise to me that when I found out for sure that I was having a daughter, I started having panic attacks. I was terrified of having a daughter because although I know my mother never intentionally tried to screw me up, I am indeed screwed up. I do not want to screw up my beautiful child. I am choosing to believe that I won't. I don't want her to be like me, I want her to be the best her she can be.

    I hope that if my daughter ever chooses to have children and finds out that she will have a daughter that she is filled with joy because she knows first hand how wonderful it can be.

  14. Heartbreakingly honest. Wow. Just Wow.

  15. I just loved this post. My mother is now and has always been a stranger to me, and also to herself, which is a shame. All of her six children feel this way about her, again, a shame.

    Though I'm sad for her and her sad life, I have no guilt... reaping what's sown and all...

    Again, awesome post.

  16. you know I know this feeling
    what the hell were the mothers in Ardsley smoking???????????????

  17. Michelle, mine is the opposite, mom is my best friend, bio-dad is a stranger. There is zero doubt in my mind that if I heard he was in the hospital today, I would not go. If there was a funeral, I would not go. If there was an inheritance to be had... I would keep it without guilt. But maybe with mothers, we have different expectations of ourselves. But it sounds (to me) like you are doing what's right for you.

  18. You are a great mom, Michelle. Your kids will be there. No question.

    I am so sorry that you have a sucky relationship with your mom. My moms always says that giving birth doesn't make you a mother. Guess not.

    Big love to you!


  19. I can't tell you how much I admire your honesty.

  20. This is my second comment on this post, but I was inspired by Ms. Moon's amazing comment to tell you both that I once read an article, and I don't know where (maybe More Magazine?) -- anyway, it was about some adult women's unorthodox feelings AFTER the deaths of their mothers. I will always remember this article because it was so different than the usual drivel about mothers and daughters. I am going to try and find it for you both. And love to you both, you amazing strong mothers and grandmother!

  21. Gawd, Mary Moon, you don't know how much your mother sounds like mine -- "don't think I will take care of your children if you go back to work."

  22. Glad to hear I'm not the only one that HATES ear aches. And I still can't believe how much they hurt!!


  23. OmGosh! you and I have the same thing happening with our mothers. My relationship was with my dad, then he died when I was 7 and then I was sent to live with my grandfather. He was my world until he died Christmas morning as I watched in 1995.

    I have a wonderful family now, but thanks for saying your words aloud as I am too much of a coward to do so. And I'm NOT afraid of anything including failure, rejection and embarrassment.

    check us out sometime

  24. Sweet Michelle,
    I know how lucky I am in my relationship with my Mama. I am so sad for her and now for you that you don't have the same with (hers) yours. Here's the thing I always think when Mama talks about being afraid that we will have the same resentments and strange relationship when she is old- we have always had a good relationship, she never had one with her mother, therefore our relationship will continue to be one of love and trust and adoration, forever and ever amen. As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end. You worship Mia, I can tell. She probably thinks the sun rises and sets in your eyes. You are, and will always be, what beautiful is to her. It sounds like you never had that with your mom, which is sad, but it's no surprise you don't have it now. You and your sweet girl will be friends till the end. And I think it's just amazing and inspiring that you did not continue a cycle of alienation and discomfort with your own children. You have grown up and beyond what was handed to you. You are a grace upon the earth.

  25. First- look at the love pouring out for you here! Amazing!

    Second- I understand but not from my personal experience. My husband's mother is not part of our life. At. All. She was a cruel, rageful, evil woman who screamed and yelled and raged at him... who wouldn't use his name and instead called him "Asshole" for 7 years... who doesn't deserve to be part of our life, to know our beautiful children. He wanted her to change, to apologize, to recognize. But she dropped him completely once I came on the scene. He generally has peace with it all but sometimes... it slaps him in the face and sends him reeling to find balance again.

    On the opposite side, I am extremely close to my mom... even though there are lots of things I could be very angry with her for and about. But she never PURPOSEFULLY hurt me. And that's the difference.

    Sending up prayers for you, mama.


so... wadaya think?

Your fairy is called Columbine Icedancer
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen when the bees swarm and the crickets chirrup.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has icy blue butterfly wings.