I’ve been thinking lately about my Mom. Our relationship while I was growing up was strained, you might say. When I was 8 and Dad left, I blamed myself, and moreso, I blamed her. I suppose at that young age I needed to find a target for my hurt and anger.
Mom never left me. She surely must have wanted to. There were so many years where all she had at home was a beligerent daughter who lashed out at her constantly. Oh, and a young son that I’m sure she’d planned to stay at home with, but who now spent more time with a sitter than with Mom, because she was working all day long to take care of us and give us a good home.
She probably felt helpless and hopeless a lot of the time. And alone.
Then after I found alcohol and drugs to soothe my own depression and (by then) rage, Mom had to live with knowing that everyone in our small town had read about my being busted for possession. I remember Mom sitting at the dining room table crying, and asking me how I could do this to her? In my self-centered ignorance, I couldn’t understand what she meant – I WAS THE ONE who was taken out of class and had to sit in the police department until she came to get me.
Later, I figured it out. And I regretted what I’d put her through. So. Much.
It’s taken me way too many years to get a grasp on how Mom must have felt when I was out till all hours and running with (God knows who-those hooligans!) my stoned and drunk friends.
So, I wanted to write this letter to my Mom. I need to tell her how I feel.
You are the strongest woman I’ve ever known. You taught me to keep going, to keep holding my head up, and to keep praying, through the dark times. You’ve taken care of me and my brother when no one was helping you. You even helped take care of my son when I could not do it, alone. When I came back home, you knew I needed you. You didn’t lecture me. You didn’t tell me that I wasn’t raised to be that way (I wasn’t), and you didn’t threaten to take my child when I was freaking out in early sobriety. You got up with us in the middle of the night and there’s no doubt in my mind that you saved both of our lives, those many, long, frightening nights.
You knew that I had no idea how to handle a fragile little person. Dad had only ever taught me to rage, and lash out. But you showed me how to love my baby and how to walk away rather than give into my own frustrations.
Mom, you never told me until recently why you never held me or gave me hugs, as I was growing up. You finally told me that you weren’t taught how to do these things, and you did the best you knew how, with me. By the time you saw that I was in trouble as a teenager, I’m sure there was no way I would have allowed you to get close enough to hug me, even though it was what I longed for, and what I cried for, at night. I thought you just didn’t care. That I’d pushed you away and you had given up.
Now I know that you wanted to come closer and love your little girl through the drama and hurts of growing up. But you didn’t know how, and I wouldn’t let you. I’m sorry, Mom. I don’t even want to know how many nights you cried, in the next room.
I just wanted to tell you this now, because neither of us is getting younger, and I need you to know it. Mom, I love you. I know you did your very best by me, and I forgive you for your shortcomings – for just being human. I hope that you will forgive me, as well. I know I made your life tremendously stressful, and I’m so sorry for that. You never had a clue what to do with a mentally ill, addicted child. But really, you did better than most. I pray that I do as well as you with my own children. I miss you and I appreciate you more than I can tell you.
Your crazy woman child,