Linda Athis stumbled in here recently and commented on my blog… which led me to her blog called “Forgiving Mom” (http://forgivingmom.wordpress.com/). I was amazed and intrigued by the many similarities she and I seem to have. But, the one glaring difference, is that she has lost her mom… and she’s feeling the pain of that. Still, she talks of coming to terms with things and forgiving her Mom before she died. It made me wonder how I will feel when my mom is gone some day? But, I still didn’t know if I felt the same “forgiveness and understanding” she wrote of…
But, between reading her blog… and all the soul searching and reminiscing I’ve been doing this past year… and talking to my good friend til the wee hours of the morning the other weekend… and the post I wrote recently about Christmas and how BOTH my parents made sure we had good ones.. I realized something….
I need to forgive my mom.
I have said that I did, because I believe she is/was sick, so I could… but… did I really? I don’t think so.
I know I have a lot of resentment bottled up in me towards her… I fight it all the time… She makes me angry… crazy…. hurt. It’s hard to squeeze forgiveness in there.
But… I think… I finally do. I think I finally can.
All this researching… reflecting… has taught me a lot. Not only about myself… but also about my Mom.
For years… I’ve tried to make excuses for her… and tried to forgive her and love her in spite of so many things about her that still made me upset. I wanted to but, I don’t think I really could.. or did.
But, now… I see things differently for the first time. I still think I had a right to feel the way I did towards her… but, I finally feel like I can start to let those angry and bitter feelings go.
For years, I saw my father as the “good parent”… and the “martyr”. I still see that… but, for the first time… I am really seeing that my mom not only TRIED her best to be a good parent too… but, that all in all… she really was a good mom. It took two to make our family work at all… and my mother.. was also a “good parent” and “martyr”.
She had her battles too. When I think about just how much she was dealing with that I can probably never understand… and I think about my childhood and how she was… and still is with my brothers and our children…. I realize… I was actually pretty damn lucky. Some of the stories I’ve read about mentally ill parents were much MUCH worse than anything I had to deal with. However, I bet my mother could relate to some of the worse case scenarios because of HER mother that was in and out of institutions her whole life. What a rotten childhood SHE must have had. I never really understood that as much as I do now.
So, yeah… she was a religious nut and is a bit whacky at times. But, you know what? She really did love me. She really DOES love me. And she tries her best to show it. Looking back, I see that she really did everything she could to try to be a good mom and be there for us. And she was. Even with her illness and the religious BS… she was probably a better mother than a lot of women out there. Losing touch with reality a little… and dealing with her past…. ?? That had to be hard for her. No wonder she was/is a religious nut. Maybe that was/is her saving grace? Maybe without it, she’d be in much worse shape and need meds and hospitals too? So, she didn’t always measure up. So what? Who does? Ya know what? I finally realize that she did damn good.
Yes, I still look back at some things… and think, “that wasn’t right!”… “that shouldn’t have happened to me!”. I still believe that. I think I NEEDED to validate those feelings… and grieve a bit for myself… but, I think more importantly I need to learn and deal with those feelings. I feel like I finally can do that.
When my parents fought (which they did a lot)… my dad always use to say he was only staying with her because of us kids. She use to say she was only staying with him because her relgion didn’t believe in divorce. Hearing this, use to make me wince and again think my Dad was doing something great for US… but not her. She was only there for religion….
But, looking back… I think I had this wrong. Regardless of what she screamed at him… she HAD to have stayed all those years for a number of reasons probably (as did he probably!)… and myself and my brothers just HAd to be one of her main reasons too. I think, deep down, she knew my dad was a good father. Maybe she didn’t want to admit it… because it was confusing to her since he was an atheist and all. But she also didn’t want to deprive us of that. I think she did want us to grow up with both parents… and that she DID have our best interests in mind. Regardless of if she ever said it.
Using “religion” as her excuse – was just that. An excuse she could rationalize out and readily admit. I mean, let’s face it… she has used religion for an excuse to support anything that she ever really did… or didn’t want to do. I think, that had she REALLY wanted to get divorced and leave him… you can bet your bottem dollar that the Holy Spirit or God would have appeared to her and told her it was okay…. and that she SHOULD. This never happened until we were all grown. Why? Because she didn’t really want to leave him! Why am I just NOW figuring all this out?!
I am just now… at 41 years of age.. realizing that she also sacrificed for us kids… she also was a martyr for us… she also not only TRIED to be a good mom… but, WAS. All things considered… she did pretty damn good by me…
And I’ve been a mean daughter… Resentful. Angry.
I am so glad I am discovering these feelings before she’s dead and gone. I am finally realizing how lucky I was/am to have her in my life. I am finally realizing I need to let go of my anger and resentment towards her. I am finally seeing her for the couragious person and loving mother she was/is…
I need to tell her these things… that she was a good mom. I don’t think I’ve ever really told her that and meant it. I really mean it now. I need to tell her.