The title of this one may be a misleading. This isn’t so much about being a parent as it is about being a child who is also a parent. By that I mean, I have parents, and I am a parent. I’m not so much of a child anymore. While have a conversation with someone the other day a realization came to me that I’d never been able to put into words before. As some of you more frequent readers (all 3 of you) may know, I cut ties with my parents long ago. When I say parents, I mean my mother and step father. My biological father is another story for another night. I made this break when I was 21 years old. While I won’t go into the previous 20 years and 11 months of that time period, trust me when I tell you that it was what was best for both me and my parents…and my wife…and my future childre…and all of mankind.
While I can joke about the occasion now, and talk about it with ease, don’t be fooled. At the time it was the 2nd hardest thing I’d ever done. The first being when I cut ties with my brother. Again, another story for another night. So this begs many questions. Well, probably 3 or so. One from each of you readers. 🙂
If our relationship was so dysfunctional, and had gotten to this breaking point, then why would it be so difficult? Is it because I loved my mother so dearly, and would miss her company? No. While I did feel a certain sense of love for my mother, it wasn’t any kind of real love. I have experienced love, both romantic and family based, and what I felt for her was more of a general concern mixed with regard. I hate to sound as cold as I must be coming across, but this is the truth.
I would eventually miss one thing about my mother, and that is the fact that she and I are fucked up in very similar ways. Usually when I see her coming out in my actions, or words, I get extremely upset. I fight back and struggle to be different. I struggle to break off of the path that several generations walked before me. But still, there is some comfort in knowing that someone else is going through, or has gone through what you are. While I love my wife more than any other adult person I’ve ever known, she will never understand what it’s like to be in my head. My mother only knew her own mind, but hers was so close to mine, that their was a common understanding there. But; nevertheless, all of this didn’t come until later.
So why was it so hard to break loose of that woman? I always had a feeling about the entire situation, but I could never put it into words. Then last weekend it came to me. I was trying to explain the entire thing to the aforementioned person, and she couldn’t make sense of it. She couldn’t understand why I would feel bad, or even hesitate about breaking ties with a destructive force. Neither of us could understand why my brother still hasn’t broken those ties. Then it came out…something like this (but with 7 beers on top of it).
The difficulty isn’t in admitting that your mother isn’t good for you. It’s also not in the awareness that you don’t want her around you. The difficulty comes from knowing the standard. From every nursery rhyme, to every hollywood movie, to ever song, we are told of a mother’s love. An undying, unbending force. The constant in the equation of life. Mother is a safe place. A warm, comforting place, that you can return to when the cold hard world has got you down. If that’s the constant, then I must be the variable. If mother’s are meant to love, and understand, and comfort, but mine doesn’t, then it must be because of me. I must be fundamentally incorrect as a son.
Realizing that you don’t want your mother around is easy. Realizing that her words and actions may be a direct result of your own inadequacies is the hard part. So do I believe that the relationship I had with my mother is entirely my fault? No, of course not. I think that she and I are complete failures at even the most basic of human interaction. I am confused daily, by the actions of everyone around me. My view of the world is the only one that I know, and the only one that I agree with. The same goes for her.
The point? As usual, I don’t have one. But let me encourage any of you who may be reading this and who also have contemplated cutting ties with a friend, family member, or anyone really. Think long and hard about it. Ask yourself, “What are either of us getting out of this relationship that is beneficial?” And most importantly ask yourself, “If I could choose five people to be around me when I die, would this person be one of them?” If the answer to the last one is no, then pull the plug. Stop wasting everyone’s time, and wasting your life on people that happen to share a few lines of genetic code. Love is not a birthright, it is something that has to be earned, every day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Giving birth creates a child, it does NOT create a mother.