When my mother died, one of the first thoughts I had was, “Thank Gawd we were speaking.” This paints a misleading picture of my relationship with Mum. The fact is there were rare instances (two) when we did not speak. The last time, I suspended communication, was during the same year she died because she was MOST UNPLEASANT to me regarding my worries over her health. She hurt my feelings at a time when I was terror stricken that she would be all alone and suffering. I just wanted to help her. I should have realized that she was scared and worried too. Empathy for one’s mother is a gift.
One of the great shames (and I mean shame in the worst, most unflattering, sense of the word) of my life is from my misguided youth. I had a boyfriend whose parents appeared to be superior to my mother. For one thing they were still married and for another they possessed a Buick, a Porsche, a 32′ sloop, and a perfect house in a desirable locale. I wasn’t consciously aware of the allure of the trappings but, in retrospect, the draw is transparent. When his parents came to visit, I threw my mother under the bus and didn’t bother to introduce them to her. No, I wasn’t born into a family I emerged fresh from a pod! Ironically, the boyfriend remarked at how open my family was with one another. My denial of my own mother must have been very painful for her but she loved me anyway.
The point is- mothers, all mothers, are flawed. We daughters fail to see our own flaws mirrored in our mothers’ eyes because that mirror is clouded by love. It doesn’t much matter how we may hurt our mothers, they will always welcome us back. No misunderstanding or embarrassment is worth an irrevocable rift from a flawed and loving mother.