I’m starting a 6 part series that touches on my extremely codependent relationship with my mother, who passed away on May 20, 2019 of a “mystery” illness that was finally diagnosed (alas too late) with her digestive system.
In doing so, I’m hoping to promote some healing for myself. I am not doing this to badmouth my beautiful mother, who was a loving human being with faults, like all of us.
Due to the nature of these posts, if you have any sort of thoughts or similar experiences, I invite you to share them with me.
I remember the day that my mom called me a “lackadaisical mother” over the landline telephone that I still had. This was back in the early 2000’s before the whole cellphone craze hit.
I wasn’t positive what that word meant exactly, but I knew that it wasn’t a compliment.
In case you didn’t know, the word is an adjective meaning “lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy.”
Ouch. That stung like nettles on my heart. My own mom had basically just called me a lazy mother.
That judgement was doled out within the first year after I took my young daughter and ran away from her abusive father. I was working a full-time job at a nursing home as a dietary aid and also keeping the secret that I had fibromyalgia from my coworkers and boss, afraid that they would fire me or look at me differently if they knew the truth.
After I would pick her up from daycare, I’d make her a snack and then let her watch television while I took a nap on the couch. I was often exhausted after working all day. We ate a lot of take out food and at the age of 6, my daughter knew how to operate our donated microwave to cook herself something to eat.
Yes honey, 3 minutes for a Hot Pocket, be really careful, it’ll be hot.
I’ll admit that I didn’t always do her hair in the mornings, I just brushed it really fast and out the door we’d go, down the steps from our 3rd story one bedroom apartment. She was always the first kid that got dropped off at 6:30 am and I had mom guilt for that. I was the mom who’d let her eat Pop Tarts for breakfast and send her a slice of leftover pizza for lunch. I never ironed any of her clothing, nor did I always get them out of the dryer and hung up before they’d wrinkle.
I wasn’t a strict mother and I didn’t keep her on much of a schedule when it came to chores, although this backfired in my face and still causes issues to this day. I had a really hard time putting my foot down and keeping it there. She’d end up doing a half-ass job of it anyway and being the perfectionist that I was (mostly still am, but that’s for another post) I’d just end up doing it myself.
But when it came to life in general, I rarely ever told my daughter what to do, often just allowing her do her own thing. I’d taken some childcare classes in high school and I really liked the Montessori approach. That’s when I realized how many different ways you could treat a child and teach them the valuable life skill of independence.
I gave her options and a voice because I wanted her to be her own person. I didn’t want to raise her the way that my mother raised me. Micromanaging was not my style and it still isn’t.
I’m not a perfect mother and I have made many mistakes, but one thing is for damn certain…lackadaisical or not, I love my baby girl more than anything in this world and I continue to do my best by her.
It wouldn’t be the first time that my mom would say something hurtful to me about how I was raising my child (or other topics) and it sure wouldn’t be the last.
When you have a kid, they don’t give you a How-To manual when you leave the hospital with your bundle of joy. I know that the way my mom raised me and how our codependent relationship developed as I grew into an adult was not solely her fault. She did the best that she could at the time and I honestly do forgive her.
But now, within the almost six months since she’s passed away, I’m finding it arduous to find my own path in this world without hearing her in my head, often belittling and questioning my choices and decisions.
And I’m realizing now just how unhealthy our mother/daughter relationship really was.
An invisible umbilical cord still connects mother and adult child, where daily phone calls, emails, and text messages define communication. Though the relationship looks close, it’s often unhealthy, with secret resentments and fears.
I must’ve appeared so lackadaisical because I was lax when it came to B deciding what she thought was best for her in any given situation. Did she feel well enough to go to school? Did she want to take those gifted classes in the 4th grade? Did she feel comfortable going to that sleepover knowing that the girl who didn’t seem to like her was going to be there?
I wanted her to make up her own mind about things. It didn’t mean that I never intervened and said a big “hell no!” when it truly mattered and had anything to do with her safety. But mostly, it was her choice and her life.
I really wanted my daughter to have her own sense of identity and to be able to make her own decisions in this life. My advice is always there for her when she needs or asks for it, but in the end, it’s up to her.
When I’m dead and gone, I don’t want her hearing me in her head, making her stop in her tracks when faced with a decision. I don’t want her second-guessing herself like I now find myself doing almost daily.
What I am attempting to do with this series of posts is to find some healing from the unintentional wounds that my mother inflicted upon me. To be painfully honest and brutally open. I need to look at everything for what it was, not for how I wished it had been, a mother who truly allowed me to live for myself.
My mom didn’t think that I was capable of much and that makes me so sad. One of her biggest fears was leaving me behind and not having someone who was willing to take care of me. It was such a worry for her that she even asked my brother to “take care of your sister when I’m gone.”
If that isn’t a total sucker punch to the self esteem, I really don’t know what is.