Sometimes it takes a death in the family to see who really is the glue that keeps us all together. The family nucleus that I was born in disappeared when my father died. In our shared grief for a man we loved very differently, my mother basically said that I was not her family anymore. That was a terrible gut punch after our terrible loss.
I understand that he was her only love. They loved by choice, not circumstance. I cannot even pretend to know the depth of her grief about losing a life-long spouse. I’ve never been through that. I can only know how terrible I feel about losing my father.
After his death, the members of my family kind of went our separate ways… or maybe I finally detached myself. My father is gone and I don’t really have anyone from the family to talk to anymore.
My mother and I were never really close either. It’s not for lack of trying (on my part) but I’ve always felt disconnected from my mother. Naturally, I cannot speak for my siblings and I will likely write more about the mother-daughter relationship but I digress…
A Complicated Family Relationship
At the tender age of 16, my mother looked me dead in the eye and said, “You know, I never wanted children.” I laughed it off and said, “Too bad, ma! You got four.”
I laughed because I didn’t want her to see how much that hurt. Her flippant remark was a dagger in the heart. What in the world possessed her to say such a thing to me?
To date and a lot of reflection, I still do not know what could have motivated her to say that.
I cannot recall how many times I’d been forgotten to be picked up from after school activities like track or gymnastics, and theater practice late at night. She rarely, if ever went to any of my events. I think in the 40 years that I’ve been singing, she’s heard me sing two or three time. There are more instances of feeling the indifference.
This isn’t about mommy bashing. Truly, it’s not. It’s just the way it is. It’s just the way mom is.
A few weeks after my father died, mom said, “I don’t have a family anymore.”
I rejected that and dared to speak up. “But mom, I AM part of your family.”
“No, you’re not. You have your own. My family was your father. You kids are all grown up now. I’m alone.”
Yes, I have a husband and children but her words hurt me. Rejected again. More pain. More grief.
I wanted to yell at her! I am your family. Your blood. A part of you. Mom… Why are you rejecting me – again?
But like my childhood, she held me at arms length and dismissed me, unconscious of her hurtful words. In my heart I know she loves me – at least I hope she does. I mean – she HAS to, right?
Having children of my own, I “have to” love my children and I do with all of my being. It’s a love that I felt deeply from the moment I found out I was pregnant with them. My love just is. It’s deep and abiding. But all my life, I just wanted her to love me because she WANTED to. Now it doesn’t seem to matter because the glue that held our family together is gone. With dad’s death, the tie that binds us no longer exists.
I love my mother but… I wish she could see how much her words hurt because it seems I’m not her family anymore.