topiary cats

topiary cats

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Motherwort 2

I was given something in a flash before I went to Charleston last week. I need to see the positive in my mother. I found that really difficult to do before I saw her again for the first time in about 3 years. In fact, I didn't even really want to. It was good that I went, I have a lot of clarity and I am stronger in my current spiritual development than I have ever been.

Now, I understand myself in relation to her in a clarity I never had before. I see her more clearly, and the honest truth is that I harbor no negativity towards her, though I doubt we will ever be close. Three days together is pushing the envelope. But I have resolve and understanding.

So here's what I've got:

The Good Stuff

*My mother is a very generous person. Her way of giving is truly from the heart, and she shows this in cooking and in shopping, much the same way that her own mother did for her. That is how she expresses love, and it is good. It is genuine.

*My mother is very creative. She enjoys making things, she likes pretty things, and she enjoys giving things she makes to others. Her mother was much the same, and my mother carries that on.

*My mother keeps track of things. This is something I get from her. For example, I know exactly how many pacifiers Daya has, what they look like, and more or less where they are. I know what "stuff" we have with us, if we are out somewhere, and I notice if something is missing. I account for everything.

The Challenging Stuff

*I had an epiphany while visiting, a perfect way to describe what has always bothered me: my mother is a micro-manager. I can't stand micro-management and I don't do well under it. I find it demeaning and humiliating. If something isn't being done her way, she'll yell and get very upset, and literally stand over you. I told her many times that just because I do something differently than her, it's not wrong. Seriously, I can't even load her dishwasher without getting yelled at. For my mother, every little thing has its place and correct way of being done. This ties into the micro-management thing. My philosophy: whatever works is great.

*My mother is ultra-sensitive and every little thing upsets her. She reacts to and stresses about everything, what has happened, including what could happen. I am exactly the opposite- I take life as it comes, and if something happens I just deal with it in that moment. I'm more of the laid back happy-go-lucky type. When I was growing up she always said to me "You just don't give a shit!" and it's true- I really don't. Life is too short to worry about such minor things, like the way things are arranged in a cabinet.

*Emotional expectations. I tried explaining this to her, but she didn't get it. Example: She cleaned the bathroom nicely before I came over, but never said anything about it, and honestly, it was a normally-clean bathroom. Very nice, but isn't that normal? I will always clean a bathroom spotless for guests and not think anything of it. That's just what you do. She was very upset that I didn't automatically acknowledge that she had cleaned it. I mean, she was really upset about that. That I "didn't give her credit where credit was due". It was her desire that I say something, she built it up in her mnd to where it became expectation, and she took it personally when that didn't happen. I tried to explain that the expectation was created in her mind of how she wanted me to behave, but she didn't get it. I said to her "Mom, I can't be what you want me to be, I can only be myself." She said something like "I wouldn't want otherwise," but clearly she was upset and just doesn't get it.

Part of my mother's shadow is her sister Carol. I don't particularly like Carol, and she doesn't like me. That's ok. But when my mother went down the list of things she can't stand about her sister, I thought to myself "you do those exact same things". When she complained at Carol for always yelling at her children...well, I didn't say anything.

The really challenging thing when I was there was that no matter how positive I was towards her, she turned it into something negative, usually aimed towards herself. I'd be just as miserable living with her today as I was growing up. The sad thing is, according to my observation, that her religious beliefs hold her back more than she will ever know. It's how she sees this life, death, etc, and it always comes back to her religion. She's not a fanatic, it's got a lot more to do with her framework of relating to self and the world around her. Really really sad. While she's not Catholic, she never did get away from the strict Catholic upbringing. If I speak in conceptual terms, she really just doesn't understand me.

So, I wish her well and will be nice to her, but don't expect long visits.

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