two mothers
0 comment Thursday, May 22, 2014 |
My Daughter once told me that one of her 'friends' at school said I wasn't her 'real Mum'. So I pinched myself and said that I felt pretty real to me. I then said that as far as I could tell I really bathed her, I really cooked for her, I really did her laundry, I really loved her, and that I really did all the things that a mum does for her children, so that really made me her mum. I then pointed out to my Daughter that, actually, she had two Mums, her Birth Mum and me, and her 'friend' only had one Mum, so ha! Who's the loser?
Well, I didn't quite put it like that, but you know what I mean.
I used to have real difficulty with the fact that my children love their Birth Mum. I mean, after what she did and everything and all that. But that was when I was sort-of competing with her. I wanted to be the best Mum, the loved Mum, the one they wanted most. Otherwise I felt I'd failed them, lost the game. But it's not a game. It's real life. Christine Moer often reminds us that adoption is built on pain and loss. They grieve the loss of their Birth Mother, I grieve the loss of the children I never gave birth to. That's the way it is.
But something I've been thinking about lately is how I have two Mum's too. Technically speaking, she's one person, but she has two personas. The first persona, the one I like, came out a little over the last week, when she's caught me being vulnerable. Alright, she was a bit weird, referring to TV shows at odd moments, and still talking about her own crap when clearly I was in the middle of an emotional storm and in no place to deal with it. But the point is that despite all of that, I could tell that she genuinely cared and was shocked to see me so shaken, my confidence in pieces. Upset at the state I was in on Friday she phoned me on Sunday to see how I was, and I spoke to her and then to Dad for some time. For the first time in a long time I was the Child, receiving good counsel and care from my parents. I was allowed to be vulnerable and they comforted me. I can't tell you what unusual rest that was.
Then there is my other Mum. I felt more like myself as I went about the day. I was aware that I was keeping myself unnaturally busy, but I wasn't sitting on the sofa in my coat and boots sobbing, so that was OK with me. We had a phone conversation, my Mum and I, and I realised too late that I was now talking to my Other Mother. This was the Mother that felt very sorry for herself and very resentful that there should be any expectation at all that she should care for me. I got minutes and minutes of agonizingly dull detail about the cold she has. A blow by blow account of something Dad had done wrong. I handled those complaints as sympathetically as I could, but despite being in passive mode, I still managed to say something wrong on three occasions and got shouted at. Yes, my Mum shouts at me. She gets so paranoid that any deviation from 'yes Mum' makes her Attack Attack Attack. It's unpleasant at the best of times, and this is not the best of times.
She also messed with my head. I told her that Husband had been golden this weekend and given me a rest, and that it made me realise just how hard I work, that I am always doing stuff for this family. She could have applauded me taking care of myself, and said something complimentary about her Son-in-Law. Instead she replied by saying how hard men work and it's nice for them to have time off at weekends, but sometimes things couldn't be helped. She wanted to make me feel lazy. I know she did that because she's jealous as she doesn't think dad ever helped her enough, but That's not my fucking fault.
There is always payback with Mum. I knew it was going to come. As much as I enjoyed the warm maternal comfort she afforded me for a few days, I knew there would be a cold blowback. There always is. That's why I don't bother going to her with anything, and haven't for decades.
Because I am fragile at the moment, that one phone call tore down the delicate membranes of healing I'd been carefully covering my emotions with and left me exposed again. I was back to sobbing and smoking fags. Thanks Mum.
If I can take anything from this it's that I must be careful that I am not making my emotional problems my Children's responsibility. Care has to be one way, from parent to child, it should not be the other way, or even mutual. A parent should be there for their child. I need to grow up.

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