So my recent illness prompted a call to Grandma to come in and help out with Mr. Personality, as this week was not a very good one for Hubba-hubba to call in sick. Kindly, my mom has come for the past three days, and it never fails to amaze me at how well, even at my advanced age, she still knows exactly which buttons to push.
Don't get me wrong, I love and appreciate my mom and all that she has done for me, which is quite a bit.
But we have always had what I would consider to be a rather "surface" relationship for a mother and a daughter, and I have never really known how to fix it.
I don't know why, but for some reason, she tended to focus her attention mostly on my sister. When it came to pushing for the really high grades and the expectations for scholarships and top-tier colleges, it was all about her. The really huge, blow-out fights that I remember were mainly with her as well. I think it came as a pleasant surprise that I was good at school, sociable, and fairly mellow. I guess you could say I was the "easy" child. My sister was the rebel without a cause, sarcastic and lacking any veneer of subtlety, which she hasn't yet mastered to this day.
I don't mean to imply in any way that I was neglected or unloved. I should say that it seems to me, looking at it from what I would hope is a semi-detatched, mature point of view, that my mother invested more emotional capital on my sister. Even if at times, those emotions were negative ones.
Add this all up, and my mother and I have floated in two very different worlds for quite a long time. I don't have any memories of my mom sitting down with me and just talking. Even now, we rarely talk about anything deep or meaningful. We chat about this and that, but I can honestly say that I don't really know my mother all that well. It's not for lack of trying, either.
But it is my sister and my mom that get their hair done together, go shopping together, the theater, the ballet, or just a nice dinner. I can't tell you the number of times I have walked in on a conversation where they are making plans about something, and I apparently wasn't really supposed to know. They always try to keep their outings from me. I guess they think it would hurt my feelings if I found out.
Well, they kinda got that one right.
Sometimes I have gotten the feeling that she doesn't really like me all that much. That if I were the type of person that she could choose as a friend, perhaps she would say no thanks and move on. But as luck would have it, I am her daughter, and so she only has genetics to blame for the association. At other times, I think she has a hard time seeing me as a grown woman. Perhaps she still thinks I am a careless and irresponsible person, which I confess would not have been an unearned reputation in my teen years.
I thought that me having a child would help us bond more, but it hasn't really worked that way. (I can't believe I just said that, it sounds so cheesy, but it's what I had hoped) Instead, it just seems to highlight our differences. My mother can be a critical person, and to some degree I have inherited that trait. Put us together with the child's best interests in the middle, and you've got the makings of some disagreements with two people who have different views on how to get there.
Take me out of the equation, and Grandma does just what Grandmas should do. Fixes him "bad" food and sneaks him ice cream at every opportunity. Plays cars with him on the floor and pretends she doesn't see him hiding beneath the blanket. Takes him to soccer practice and walks him to the park. Reads him stories and this week was helping him to read for himself. Gives him baths, kisses when he will tolerate them, and warm hugs.
That is what is most important, isn't it?
And with this post, I officially declare Pity Party Week over.