I've dithered about this post. I don't think my mum reads my blog. She's certainly never mentioned it and she's not usually backwards in coming forwards, but I know my brother does, so it's possible. And I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with all this face to face...
But anyway. My mum.
I've read other people's posts about their parents and I realise that in the grand scheme of things I am very lucky with my mum. She's kind, loving, intelligent, generous (see Canada trip...), fantastic with my children and I think must have done a pretty good job with me and my siblings (she says modestly).
So why am I finding her so difficult at the moment?
I used to have this fantastic relationship with my mum but somehow since my girls were born it's changed. On the outside you'd say I still have a great relationship with her. I see her relatively often, we speak probably once a week or so, we get on well when we see each other, she helps out with the girls, we don't (generally) bicker or argue. But I don't call her unprovoked, just for a chat, the way B does with his mum.
And all that does is add to the guilt. Because I've worked it out. The reason I feel uncomfortable when I'm with my mum is because I feel guilty. All the time. And I have don't entirely know why. I just get the impression that she thinks I am letting her down.
Some of this, at the moment, I know is related to my job and the dithers I'm having about it. But what else is going on? B, the amateur psychologist, thinks that she must feel as though her role is being usurped by me. She's been the mother and the mother figure all my life, and now I am. So what does that make her? This sort of relates back, in his opinion, to my job. She's done a great job as a mother (she hasn't done paid work since I was born, and didn't do any work at all until after my younger brother went to school) and I'm the living proof of this - happy healthy family, great job, modern exemplar etc etc. If I give up work and become "just" a mum, what does that do to her status as mother to this pinnacle of virtue?
And then some of it, I think, is because I do feel guilty. I feel guilty because I get irritated. I get irritated when she implies, or seems to imply, that she knows my children better than I do. Or when she knows me better than I know myself. Or when she complains about the way my house is arranged (although to be fair, I complain about the way she arranges her house, so that's totally hypocritical of me). Or when she tries to solve problems with money. Or when she puts herself second, again, and I just want to say "Stand up for yourself, mum. Do what you want to do when you want to do it", even when the person she's putting herself second to is, well, me.
And I feel guilty because I don't call her, and because I don't help enough with my dad (who's ill) and because I know she'd love me to pile all the girls in the car and drive up and see them once a month as so many of her friends' children do (and I don't because I'm lazy, and L is carsick and I know that when I get there I'll just feel guilty, so I don't, and the cycle continues), and because my brother's in Canada, and my sister's uncommunicative, and I'm talking about moving to Scotland and taking the girls with me and I suspect, in my heart of hearts that she feels abandoned, yet I'm still doing it...
I realise that a lot of this is because I've just spent 12 days in the company of my family for the first time in probably as many years, but I've talked to some of my friends about this, and it appears that I'm not alone. So what are we doing wrong? And how can we rescue it? And how, please, how can I stop my daughters needing to write the exact same post in thirty years time? Because that thought breaks my heart.
And Mummy, if you are reading this, I'm sorry. Maybe we should have a chat.
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