Brief followup and a thank you
To everyone who commented on Friday’s post or wrote to me privately, thank you. I was quite touched by all the support, and I’m sorry that so many of you are dealing (or have dealt) with similar situations.
For the record: it’s a complicated situation. My mother and I have always had many ups and downs with our relationship. She was not a bad person and I do believe she meant well. But her wanting for me often took the form of criticizing, comparing and belittling. She did this with others as well, and I know why — she was always insecure herself, and she projected her own perceived failings onto others. She wanted me to have a better life than she did, and tried to influence the outcome of my personal paths with controlling behavior and nagging. My mother was always very much about appearances (physical and otherwise), and she wanted to be able to brag about me to her friends, show me off. Sadly, I never seemed to come up to the standards she set for how one should live, should look, what one should accomplish.
Perhaps for these reasons, I have the attitude I do about the care of aging parents. In many cultures, it is considered the grown child’s obligation to care for the aging parent. Elders do not go into homes; they live with and are cared for by their adult children until they die. “They took care of us; therefore, we owe it to them to do the same.”
I think that’s a load of BS.
Sure, if you were lucky enough to have good parents who nurtured you and helped you grow to be your best self, then yes, you may very well feel the need to do everything humanly possible to keep them comfortable and happy in their later years. Why wouldn’t you? But to be obligated to do so, simply because they’re your parents? Baloney. I didn’t ask to be born. They chose to have me, and with that choice comes a degree of responsibility. I see no reason to have that same responsibility imposed upon me or any other adult child, especially when said parent did a mediocre (or worse) job to begin with.
Selfish? Yup. Against societal dictates? Of course. Would you expect any different from me?
So anyway… I’d love to say that after writing my blog on Friday, I had a burst of willingness and charity and called my mother. But I didn’t. I did, however, write a letter to my stepdad. It’s something. Then I went to John’s. I did not share what was going on with me at first. But Friday night I had a nightmare, in which my mother called me a failure. Saturday, I broke down and wept to John, and he comforted me. He did not tell me I was a bad person. He didn’t suggest “call your mother.” I love him for that. I cried myself out, napped in his arms and felt very clean and clear when I awoke.
And tomorrow, I get to see New Guy. No, this is not a topic for him and me. I wouldn’t burden him with that. It is not his responsibility to alleviate my guilt; it is my own. I will work on it as best I can, and in the meantime, enjoy the good in my life, of which there is a great deal.
Hope everyone had a good weekend. We will now return to our usual spanking frivolity.