I swear to God this blog isn't all just heartless digs at my mother. She had an incredibly hard life, with two alcoholics for parents. Just because I'm not able to continue a relationship with her doesn't mean she doesn't deserve compassion.
But sometimes, you're just done.
I remember the beginning of the end. I was about to have my fourth child and was having a lot of pregnancy complications. I was scared to death about the baby and me, but I was most worried about how our other three kids—9, 8, and 6–were going to handle being with a sitter for days and ending up with sleep-deprived parents to boot.
This girl right here needed a mom.
I screwed up my courage and called her. I asked her--begged her--to please come and help with my kids when I was in the hospital delivering. We’d already had three babies but this would have been a first. Plus, there is only so much Joe can do to support us all, and unless he figured out how to be in two places at once, he needed to be at UCLA with me. We don't have any family that lives nearby, and like I said, I was sick with three young children and desperate.
Why didn't I just call Aunt Kay? I can't remember exactly but there has to have been a good reason. I think she had just been out to visit us and she was pretty busy with her own four kids. I don't like to impose on anyone, >>even that *other* woman in my life who actually birthed me and is kind of supposed to be into that sort of thing<<. I know AK would have loved to help but would have felt badly if she couldn't make it happen.
Mom could have made it happen, and she didn't.
Even she had to admit it was for a stupid reason. Her boob job was overdue for a re-do, as she eventually confessed when I pressed the issue, and my brother's wedding was coming up. She was sure to see her ex and about 40 other people from Dad's large, close-knit family she hadn't seen in 20+ years. Not that the Millers cared one bit about how round her t*tties were looking these days. Nor were there more than a handful of them who could possibly have wished her well. She hadn't budgeted for this, though--she never did budget for any of this. She picked the surgery.
Surprisingly high price somebody pays to be vain.
But what was the final nail in the coffin? I asked her, for the 199th time, to stop compulsively buying a bunch of sh*t for my kids and mailing it to us. I sound like a spoiled-@ss brat when I tell this story. But her shopping addiction is seriously detrimental to her whole life, to the point that she cannot afford any travel to spend time with my children due to spending it all on Pottery Barn.
This all makes sense if you consider how she grew up. When you’re a neglected kid who doesn’t have enough clothes that fit, you never want your loved ones to feel those awful feelings of insignificance. It made her feel worthless not to have stuff she needed. Buying people random crap they don’t need or even want is her love language. I know her heart is in the right place.
She has a problem, though. A stepmother-please-bail-me-out-again, credit cards routinely declined, drive three hours to go to the Restoration Hardware at that one mall, all-out clusterf**k of a problem. Lying. Insolvency. Chaos. More pieces of high-end furniture, more rustic farmhouse tables, more Belgian Flax Linen duvet covers, more f*cking lamps than she can fit into her modest living space, renting a storage unit that is exclusively for them. She lives paycheck to paycheck, despite making good money. She never stops moving residences and is always looking for the windfall that is sure to be just around the corner, if only her rent were lower or they just paid her enough or she'd married that doctor who never got around to getting divorced.
She has a problem that helped to end her marriage.
Still, the kids really needed to see her face. No excuses about that eel skin wallet “demagnetizing” that MasterCard again, or it costing a lot to fly out. No surprises. No bullsh*t. It was pretty tough when she didn't.
A few years later, it was time for me to give it one last try to have a mature and honest relationship with Mom. I braced myself for things to come crashing down. And then I finally mustered the words to tell her how I have felt, over and over again over the years, when she consistently chose to nourish this addiction.
"Mom, I feel so sad when you can't afford to come out here because you've made these decisions. Yes, it is your money and your choice. But we can only fly ourselves and all of the kids out to see you so much. It is super hard to see you harm yourself like this, and I know that not hanging out with your grandkids for years at a time is probably not what is really in your heart."
Her: [Denial of any self harm or problem whatsoever with these behaviors]
"I can't enable this anymore. It needs to stop now."
Her: [She blocks my phone and I can no longer text her for what ends up being a day or two. I promptly move on with my life, so very tired of this dynamic.]
[She unblocks me and sends me a meme:]
I wasn't even going to bother. But I sent one, too.
And that was that.
Six and-a-half years later, I don’t regret a thing about our “breakup”. I finally feel that I can talk about these shameful secrets without fear of judgment. Most of the judgmental thoughts were coming from inside my own head, anyway. You can't even manage to have a relationship with your own mom. She will die someday and you will regret all of this. It's your fault you couldn't get her to listen.
It all turned out okay in the end. Dad ended up coming to help us. As has happened many times before, he was the adult in the room. I have also learned a lot since then about being my own adult in the room. I still don’t know why I kept hoping my mom would be there for my kids when she wasn’t ever really able to be there for me, but that was the day I stopped hoping. I have learned to let go of what never will be, and to quiet the critical voices within me that refuse to acknowledge the obvious--she has no real interest in changing even if she might actually get to hang out with my family.
It's her loss.
And. When I am (hopefully) a Grandmaw one day, I’m going to have the saggiest t*ts you ever did see flapping around through an evening gown.