Saturday, 6 May 2017

My Mother and Me

I may have been a silent rebel (Google image)

I could never put my finger on why exactly I didn't ever get on well with my mother. I tried my best - for about 30 years, then I gave up.  Growing up, I was wary of her temper and never argued, just looked away and shut up. I never felt good enough for her and was always hurt when she fantasized about the child she had during the war, who died at about 6 weeks from pneumonia (damp, rented flat). "She would have been just like me", she always confided to me. In a letter many years later, she called me 'her wayward daughter'.  Maybe I was, by her standards, I was after all a child of the sixties. I got up to a few things. 
The other day, I bought an old copy of a Women's magazine (circa 2007) from our library.  It was a May issue and approaching Mother's Day.  Hence the following words: I hope the author won't mind the quote, because I am not going to print a credit here, but she is almost exactly my age. Her mother was a career woman, mine was a housewife.
" On the negative side, she could be moody and scorchingly critical. That devastating inner voice, sounding like my mother, has stayed with me. I can hear her saying, 'Couldn't you have done better?' whenever I don't excel. It took me into adulthood to realise that to an extent she was disappointed with her own life, and that her marriage to my father was a difficult mismatch."
"A difficult mismatch".  Yes, those are the very words I would have chosen: and typical of the times, they stayed together, (my father adored her). In fact they celebrated their 70th Anniversary. At least he did: she said nothing but just had a resigned look on her face, while he made a long speech. No smile.  Ah well.

2 comments:

  1. The is sad. 70 years of being adored with our love in return.

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  2. You had the unenviable situation of competing against a departed sibling who probably held a position of perfection in your mother's mind most likely from a sense of guilt on your mother's part. When you suffered the normal human failings of childhood and adolescence, you probably were held to an impossible ideal standard of the "perfect child that could have been" that existed in your mother's imagination. That is a tough standard to have to live to. The perfect dead sibling never gets into trouble or disappoints.

    My mother should have received the Josef Stalin award for motherhood. She was a no-nonsense disciplinarian that ruled the roost with an iron fist. As a weed hopper, I used to marvel at the stupidity of my sister, 4 years younger, who thought through tantrums, she could bend my mother's will. My mother welcomed the challenge. I do believe that she loved my sister and I, but it was rooted in though love. She was actually a good mother (for the times) until we reached puberty. All you had to do was follow the rules and things were good. However at puberty things began to change with my mother. There seemed to be this tremendous fear of her children growing up and becoming independent people. There was also this huge fear of sexuality. Once we attained puberty, my sister and I were destined to be a source of shame to my mother. I was no doubt going to knock up girl and my sister no doubt would be knocked up. Further complicating this fear was this heroic sacrifice that my mother remained married to my alcoholic father for the sake of us kids. So we were the source of her enslavement and surely soon to become the source of her ever lasting shame.

    Well I did knock up a girl when I was 33 and married to her for 6 years, and it was under extreme duress. I wasn't going to get away with "next year" with my wife any more. My sister never got knocked up. And as such both my sister and I were terrible because we denied our mother her grandchildren. We both were further disappointments to our mother in our choice of spouses. We just seemed hell bent on destroying our mother's life.

    I loved my mother, probably not as much as I should have, but I definitely didn't like her very much. A very complex relationship.

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