Tuesday, May 09, 2006

family ties

Can you ever really know someone? I mean REALLY know them. Probably not. We all have masks, and we all have faces that we show certain people and not to others. Family is different: THEY KNOW YOU. Good and bad. They know what you look like when you first wake up, what you really act like when no one is looking. THEY KNOW YOU.

This past week was pretty hard on me. My mom came to visit. I have not seen her in over 6 years. She came to my wedding when I married my ARMY husband, Greg, and I had not seen her since January 2000. I don't think there was a real falling out, a moment that I could point to and say, "THAT was when it happened." but somewhere along the way, I lost my family. The family I was born into....

My dad died a little over 9 years ago, and as dramatic as this sounds, it changed me forever. My dad was larger than life to me. I have come to realize that I am more like him than I am like my mother. My dad was stubborn, sometimes mean, an alcoholic who did bad things. He was also VERY smart, well read and had the singing voice that would impress Dean Martin. He was not involved in our childhood. He left that to my mom. My mother is the opposite of my dad, she nurtured us, kiss our boo-boo's and listened to our stories. She knew our friends' names, she was subjected to the music that we liked in the car, she bought our clothes. Where my dad was strong, my mom softened him. They complimented each other well and were married for 43 years when he died. It was not a perfect marriage, whose is? Nor was my childhood always happy, but I turned out okay.

Along the way, I have made some stupid mistakes. Took the wrong path. Used poor judgement. Married two of the most worthless men in the world. I left the only home I had ever known (TEXAS) when I met my husband. I'd never been so far from everything I loved. And I never once looked back. No regrets...I finally grew up.....

I had not seen my mom in YEARS. It's hard to keep in touch by phone. I mean REALLY stay involved. I had a busy life with two toddlers and a willful teenager, I couldn't fly home at the drop of a hat. My mother refused all offers to fly to see me at my expense. I didn't see her for 2 years in Alabama, 3 years in Alaska, and 2 years (so far) in Virginia.....but somehow, she agreed to come this time. So I sent her the ticket.

I was so scared and nervous as I waited at the airport for her plane.
What if she didn't like me anymore? What if she decided not to come?
When I saw her, I cried. All of the years seemed even longer. She had barely aged (she's 70 now and still beautiful, the woman BARELY has crow's feet. She has the most beautiful laugh-lines around her eyes).

That first night, after the kids had gone to bed, we sat and I rubbed her feet for her. I just started bawling and I kept asking her, "Why wouldn't you come visit before, Mom?" I just kept crying....she had no REAL answers for me. She said it was a money issue (I would have paid for the ticket in a heartbeat ESPECIALLY to see her witness the births of her two grandchildren...)
She had no answers to "why" so I am just moving past that. My relationship with my mom is different now. She doesn't know me. She doesn't know my children (who wouldn't hug her the entire week she was here). She doesn't know their middle names nor their birthdays. I asked if she just didn't like my husband and she assured me that it wasn't that.....but she had answers for me.

And it makes me so sad. So very sad. I love my mother and her influence on my life is large. But she and I are different women now. That much is clear. I still love her, she's just not part of my actual life. I won't lie and say that I am not hurt that she's much closer to my siblings. It does hurt me. But I have my own life and my own family. And I can't wallow in that pain or it will drag me down....I have 3 sisters and 1 brother. I am the youngest, the baby....I don't have relationship with any of my sisters, all for various reasons. I talk to my brother on rare ocassions because he lives with my mother.

My husband has this saying and I embrace it fully, "Your family is the one you make."
I am lucky that I have my own family. My kids love me. And they won't ever wonder if I really love them. Even when they're 37, they'll know.

The picture on this entry is of my father with his mother. My dad's name was Adam. I named my son after him. My grandmother, Herlinda, was a tiny woman but man, was she strong. She didn't speak any English. She was also an illegal alien. I am the grand-daughter of two illegal aliens.

Okay, enough family stuff. My eyes are swollen enough already. Posted by Picasa


barbara curtis said...

Such a heavy post, Suzanne. As someone who had no relationship with my mom, I know some of what you are going through. Like you, I found all I could do was try to be a better mom myself - and stick with it even when my kids grew up.

I did miss you at McLean! Maybe next time.

Christy said...

My heart aches for you. I don't have the kind of relationship I wish I did with my mother, but few do. You're definately in my prayers.

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