Monday, May 18, 2009

A letter to my mother

Dear Mother:

I really wanted to take some time to think about your email before I responded in haste or anger. The question you left me was “anything else you want to accuse me of?”

I have not heard from you since your trip to Vietnam. As you know, I had many apprehensions about your trip home, not only because it is a communist country, but also because of all the history and blame that comes attached to it. Your pension to remember and keep a grudge for many years is obviously a trait I acquired, because I’ve never forgotten that you laid blame upon me and my birth as the reason why you could not return to your country after the near end of the war. I will never forget the shoebox you kept in the hall closet with letters from your father requesting your return without me or your husband. I knew then as I know now that you will always make me responsible for that loss, even though I had no say in your choice. Knowing all this, I knew this would be a difficult journey for you, and one that would probably once again awaken your animosity for me, so I felt it best not to bother you until you were ready to communicate with me. If the entire reason for you moving to Georgia, as you often said, was because you couldn’t take the stress from your family, I certainly didn’t want to create more of a problem.

Recently, I’ve had a lot of problems with Megan, who’s now at the age I was when you and I used to regularly go round about in tongue lashings. She’s said and done some nasty things that I take to heart and have a hard time forgetting and forgiving. Last week, we had a sort of intervention with her, in which an epiphany suddenly hit me – it was this behavior in me as a teen that created the rift between you and I, and I quickly shared with her that if she continued on her given path, that the relationship between her and I would end in the same way you and I have. I do realize that the things I said and done as a child still ring in our relationship today, and I often consider this when I grieve for what Mo gets from you that I don’t, and I’m not talking about monetary goods either. Simple contact with her and her children are more than I receive until I complain about it.

The fact that I realize in this epiphany, is that no matter what, Megan is my daughter and I am her mother, and as the adult in this relationship, it is my responsibility to teach her and nurture her and try to give her all that I can to one day make her a strong responsible adult. I cannot hold her accountable for her behavior because she is a child, anymore than I believe you should hold animosity towards me for past mistakes made in childhood. In the end, who she is, and who she will become is my burden because I cultivated those traits in her, as you have in me, and I vow to never turn from this responsibility because I know that a child never stops needing their parent, whether they are 6 or 60, nothing ever replaces a mother’s love and guidance.

Over the years, I’ve come to grudgingly accept that Mo is more favored in your heart that I, and therefore, whenever the kids come with new grandma clothes or Mo gets a lavish gift from you, I know that I must accept that it is the way it is, whether I like it or not. I only hope that you look at the situation with an open mind and realize how much it hurts that neither my girls nor I will ever have that special place in your heart, and why when things go wrong, I always turn to it as a reason for the lack of attention from you. Perhaps it’s a rift that may never be mended, but may it not be so without you understanding how I feel about it. You may be disappointed by the broken relationship I have with Mo, but it is for these reasons that they exist; I can’t stand to be the bastard child, and she can’t stand not having all the attention focused on her.

It gets extremely tiring keeping my responsibility and my promise to you to look out for Mo and the kids when I’m treated like a servant. Only when I’m needed, is what I do appreciated, and otherwise, I’m supposed to grovel in thankfulness over a gift she put no thought into, instead, asking everyone around me what I “needed”. The money wasn’t the point. Certainly you know $20 whopping bucks doesn’t buy much today, but a better use (if its intention were for Hanna’s benefit) would have been to give it to HER to decide what to get, not anyone else. A better alternative would have been to spend TIME with Hanna (which we eventually did last week), just hanging out together, and spending that $20 having a Big Mac or seeing a show. That meant more to me than a bunch of glasses I don’t need – that was the point I was trying to make with you. Not that I didn’t appreciate the thought behind your actions.

Since Mo has evolved with Brandon (who thankfully likes kids more than the Jay guy before him) she now has no use for me to care for her children unless she’s working, and makes no bones about reminding me that she pays for my services and that I’m not Hanna’s mother. I’m treated like a hired hand, when I did and continue to do more for her than anyone would for any amount of money. For Hanna’s birthday I promised her that the next weekend (because her mother had plans for her on her birthday weekend), that we’d go shopping and out to dinner to celebrate, but it had to be on a Friday because I had a committed schedule. Hanna was ok with this and told me that she’d let her mother know she wanted to stay with us on Friday, as she said her mother gave her the choice for Fridays as to whether she wanted to stay with us or her. Suddenly, Mo had party plans, and friends coming over, which was more important that Hanna entertain their children rather that spend time with her family. Mo even threatened to call the police on me if I tried to leave before Brandon came to pick her up (as if that was my intention). I’ve since then never forgotten how crappy she behaved, nor that she cares more about her friends than those that stand behind her and supported her through her bad choices. Now, the only time I hear from her is when she believes we are gossiping about her – truth be told, I could care less about what she’s doing and have better things to waste my breath on, but then again, perhaps it’s her way of gaining attention from me , regardless if it’s negative attention she’s getting. I only shake my head in pity to think that she’s that worried about what I think about her, when in fact, I’ve long learned to stop worrying or caring about what goes on in her life, because none of it matters and my first responsibility is to my own dramatic children.

I can’t expect you to be the mother I would like you to be for me, nor can I be everything you wish I could. I can’t change what has already happened between us and I’m sorry to be such a disappointment to you. I only want you to understand how much I grieve for the relationship I’ll never have with you as long as we travel this path, and hope for a better ending before it’s too late. Unfortunately, life doesn’t serve you second chances and there’s no way to do over what’s already been done. The only hope is for better tomorrows.



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