Thursday, August 05, 2010

Motherhood, revisited

I'm trying to remember really hard tonight why it is I so desperately wanted to be a mother, why my ex and I went through years of fertility testing, adoption interviews, emotional pain that was devastating to our sex life and self-esteem.

There was a charming, delightful little bundle of baby at the end of all that. She grew up reasonably okay and we had some good times -- or so I thought until the last several years, when I discovered secrets she'd hidden which are now contributing in no small way to mental and health issues which are now front and center in her life, and which have certainly impacted mine, financially and emotionally.

Didn't protect her very well, it seems. Bad mama.

And then when my beloved came along years later with two more daughters, I was delighted to have them. And I fell in love with them. Oh there were issues there too -- but there also were some good times, some real bonding.

One has estranged herself from us for reasons we know not. Poof. Gone. No crystal ball here -- no explanation, no demands, no nothing.

REALLY bad mama.

The other, the one who has called me Mom for several years and who regards my first daughter as her sister, has pretty much said that I'm a crappy person who she has lost both faith in and respect for because I/we didn't leap to bail her out of an admittedly difficult place, and because I sent e-mail links without signing them or even so much as a note. And I didn't call her back when I said I would. (I'm guilty of that, no question. The e-mails were sent on the fly, in haste, not deliberately being 'cold,' and were intended to offer helpful information. I didn't call her back because ... it's complicated. But I should have.) She's saying she doesn't need this kind of 'family.'

Bad, BAD, ROTTEN mama.

So what's the solution since I can't go back to the past and change how I did things then, teach lessons better, act as a better example myself?

Beat myself up some more?

Self-flagellation may be the road to spiritual bliss in some cultures, but I'm not good with pain.

Give them whatever they want/need whenever they ask, regardless of the impact it may have on our own retirement plans or emotional health? Because that's what 'good' parents do -- devote themselves to the well-being of their children even if the children are adults and we have no say in the decisions they're making for themselves?

I don't think so. I don't think the parenting books think that's a good idea either.

Give 'em both one last check and move to outer Mongolia, leaving no forwarding address?

Tempting. Really tempting. Well, maybe not the outer Mongolia part, but certainly the no fowarding address part.

I don't think I'm a cold, unfeeling, uncaring person. Most of my life I've had the opposite problem -- getting too involved in the problems of others (and ignoring the ones of my own, which have a nasty way of eventually demanding attention). I've often trusted too easily, taking people at their word, and have been disappointed time and time again. I don't like to think of people being sick or sad or hungry or depressed or homeless or abused, and I try to help where and when I can.

But I don't know where this ends. I don't know where the boundary is between too much and not enough. I don't know how to say no or enough without it causing high drama and more trauma for all of us. Like most men, my honey is better at separating emotion from action, but he's not a happy camper either. Bad daddy?

(At least we're suited for each other, I guess -- bad mama and bad daddy. )

This is not what I'd pictured all those years ago. This is not how it was in my family nor in his, and not what our children grew up watching.

I'm still working to accept my children as they are, warts and all, and I love them dearly. But I'm not sure that means that I sacrifice who I am, what my dreams and goals and desires are, what we've worked for all these years, to meet their needs and wants now.

Wonder if Mongolia has an ocean? (heading for the atlas...)


mxtodis123 said...

Gosh, we are so much alike. I, too, had problems getting pregnant. Eventually, I ended up having two has grown into a very caring and loving mom and the other I barely hear from. I don't think we were bad, mama's, Beth. I think we did the best we knew how. We have to learn to forgive ourselves.

Gina K said...

Goodness, Clairee. If you had been the opposite, that would have been wrong, too.

It's not you who is the problem here, it's your girls, and they have a hard time accepting responsibility, it seems.

One of the very hardest lessons I'm learning in therapy is that no matter what other people do to cause problems or trigger negative responses in my life, which may be *their* fault, the only behavior I can control is my own. No matter what you do, you can't change how they are or how they react to you. You have to keep doing what's right for you, though, and convey it to them in the gentlest and kindest way possible.

I know you don't intentionally hurt, but there may be some hurt on this journey that you can't take on.

You were always a good mama (substitute) to me. Does that help?