Mae asked about relationships with mothers sometime last week, and I figured I’d take a stab at explaining the one I had with my mother. Maybe. I don’t know what’s going to happen as I start typing this up.
Let’s ignore the lack of flow in this and just go with it.
Let’s just get it out there – those last few years she drove me a little crazy. After 2 years in Macomb for grad school, I was poor and jobless, so I moved back in with the ‘rents until I could (a) find a good job and (b) move the hell out of Gunsmoke. A good job (although not a career) finally showed up 2 years later. But I digress.
There was a time not long ago I wasn’t comfortable talking about a lot of this. It’s still a little awkward – I don’t know how to say a lot of this without just blurting it out. For a while, it seemed like talking about certain things would be an affront to her memory. Then again, it’s all part of the person who raised me and is at least partially responsible for who I’ve become. And since I like me, I feel like I should be able to talk about all of this. So I am.
My mom was depressed, suffered from anxiety disorder, and I’m almost positive she was agorophobic – albeit an undiagnosed agoraphobic. She was also a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak. Growing up with a mother who suffers from mental illness is one thing, living with her once you’re an adult is another. My relationship with her was somewhat defined by her mental illness. I’m fighting genetics, but I’m happy to say that she didn’t pass on the issues with brain chemistry to me, just the wonky digestive tract and sinuses.
This next thing – this changed the world as I knew it. When I was 16, mom was on Prozac for her depression and it didn’t help. In fact, I think it might have made things worse. She left home like she was going to work one morning and was gone for 4 days. During that time, she had tried and luckily failed to commit suicide by drug overdose.
The 14 years she was around after that were bonus years. Eventually I grew up and started to see her as other people did – everybody loved my mom because she was a genuinely good person who cared about everything in her world. She never realized the impact she had or how many people cared about her.
It’s funny – you forget just how much you miss someone until you start talking about them. I had 14 extra years with mom that I almost didn’t get and they still weren’t enough.
The relationship I had with mom, however, is hard to explain. I think we had a good one, and for that I’m lucky. Sure, like I said before, she drove me bonkers sometimes, but I think that’s what all parents do. It’s actually getting harder to remember why she drove me crazy and easier to remember the good things.
It’s not quite that time, but on January 19th, my mom would have been 55. I think she would have appreciated my knitting insanity, especially since she was super-crafty herself.