Friday, 21 December 2012

We weren't the first

My mother had my siblings and I while she was with my dad, but we were not her only children, nor the only family she had ever created. My older sister was born ten years before I was when my mother was 18. Life was hard for my mother, she did not have an ideal upbringing, and she has never made good relationship choices. As a result of the wrong choices, my mother found herself pregnant, and alone.

When my mother had my sister she was young and confused. Though she wasn't ready for a baby, she kept my sister for quite some time. My mother lived with my sister's great-grandmother for a long time, though from what I understand, it was the great-grandmother doing a lot of the baby care. Eventually, my mother moved out with my sister and that's where things took a downward turn. My dad has told me many stories about my mother, many I thought were exaggerations, but after hearing the same stories from other people, I know they were true. My dad told me my mother was confronted one winter day by my sister's aunt and uncle, they stopped her as my sister had no mitt's on, was very soiled, and my mother was dazed. They took her back to their house and spoke with her about how she was neglecting her baby and if she couldn't care for her that she needed to find someone who could. Shortly after the intervention my sister went into the care of her paternal grandmother and my mother never looked back... that is until my brother contacted the long lost sibling he(we all) craved to meet.

My sister was around 14 months old when my mother walked away and moved to a new city, this is something I can not fathom, but was likely for the best. How could she do this not once, but twice? I always felt bad for my sister even though I hadn't met her, I felt sad that she was abandoned by my mother and that I didn't know her. It's silly to think about that now, as my mother abandoned us too, and it was probably more traumatizing as we had a longer working memory of my mother. My sister was likely miserable without my mother initially, but baby's can be very resilient to stress; 4,5, and 7 year old's aren't as quick to bounce back from abandonment.

How do you feel about mother's leaving their children?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Christmas to forget

Growing up in an environment where the parents are not getting along is very traumatic for the children involved. Some children block out the negative memories in the years that follow a divorce, while others can't forget. My siblings have, in varying degrees, blocked out most of the difficult situations we were faced with while our parents were together. For many years they selectively remembered particular things about my mother and as a result had a much different view about her than I did. My youngest brother once told me that he couldn't remember anything before the age of 5, my other brother said he can't remember much before 4 years old. I remember being in my walker, very vaguely, but I remember it. 

What's my point here?

Memories are very powerful things, they can dictate how you feel about a season, a month, or a day. I have a memory that is forever linked with Christmas eve, and I believe my brothers have the same memory, whether they admit it or not. It's still unpleasant to think about, and I may indeed cry when I write this.
Christmas 1993 was the last Christmas my parents were together; it was the last Christmas in our home; it was the last Christmas at the school we attended; and it was the last Christmas we would wake up to our mother. It was Christmas eve and I remember being excited to sleep in the attic with my brother, we knew that Santa was coming and remembered that we had heard the reindeer on the roof the year before. My youngest brother slept in his room, he had just turned 4 and was still scared of the attic. I remember waiting for my dad to get home but my mother had sent us to bed before he could make it. 

My brother and I were lying in bed, starting to fall asleep while waiting for reindeer to land on the roof. Just as I was feeling very tired, my dad opened the door to the house. The stairwell to our attic was directly across from our porch door, so I heard the door open loud and clear. My excitement for his arrival immediately turned to devastation as my mother lit into my dad about being home late. I remember her screaming at him, she swore with every other word. She called him names, she accused him of being drunk, she yelled that she was sick of his bullshit, and she said she had had it and was leaving. I heard the door slam shut, the truck start, and then pull out loud and fast from the driveway. At this point, my brother and I came down from the attic, sobbing. My youngest brother was coming out of his room from behind the kitchen, balling and crying for my mother. We went into the kitchen where my dad was sitting at the table crying, and we all cried together. Hardly the Christmas eve I had anticipated an hour earlier. After a long and sad night, we all woke up to open presents and were very happy to see our mother home.

It wasn't until February that my mother talked to me and told me that she would be leaving due to an impending divorce. Why on earth anyone would ruin their children's Christmas, and not even leave for another 3 months, is totally beyond my understanding. I later found out that my mother had spent that terrible Christmas eve with the man she had been having an affair with. She left my siblings and I in tears, just so she could spend the evening on the other side of the grass.

Sometimes memories can haunt you for years, sometimes they can haunt you your entire life. I wish that my mother would have thought things through that Christmas eve. I wish she would have put our feelings first and talked to our dad alone. Instead, my mother acted selfishly, and left me to remember every Christmas, how selfish she really is.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Newborns are not important, just my mothers feelings.

I've been thinking for some time how to go about with my story, after my introduction I wasn't sure where to start. Maybe I should start with the present.

I gave birth to my first child this past year. Being a mother and a wife is extremely rewarding for me but it's also made me realize exactly what my mother gave up when she left. When my baby was due to be born my mother came to town to meet her grand-child and(apparently), to help. For a very long time I had been under the impression that my mother had finally reached a certain level of maturity and had also come to grips with the realization of what she missed out on. When my child was born, I realized her 'understanding' was more of a ruse then some kind of profound realization.


Being a mature adult when your own mother is incapable of adult reasoning is a kind of frustration that only others in similar situations can understand. When you find yourself giving advice to your mother, but never getting advice; When you have to point out cautiously how a situation could have been better handled so it doesn't become an attack on her; When you're hurt by her actions but she's the victim; only then will you be able to understand how frustrating it is to have a mother like mine. So... what happened the week my baby was born?

My mother stayed with my half sister and her family(first mistake) when she visited this past summer. This arrangement is something that I came to seriously regret.

Initially, I was the one who picked my mother up from the airport. I drove our rather dirty truck to pick her up and greeted my mother with a smile and a kiss when she got into the vehicle. She proceeded to tell me about her flight and the pleasant gentleman she spoke with, she also commented on the dirty truck. We arrived at my home, newly purchased last year and a work in progress, but none too impressive by the look on my mothers face. I brought her through the yard, we went to the back door. I showed her the tree that I love, the flowers in my garden, the vegetables I was growing, and the shed my husband tinkers in. She noticed the dog poop. I brought her into the back door, and asked her to come see the new HE washer and dryer we had in the basement. I showed her how they worked and explained how my husband had done the plumbing and was working on renovating the basement. She saw the bags of recycling and the  timber on the floor. Upstairs we went and everything that we had done in our house was overshadowed by what we hadn't. The paint in the kitchen didn't replace the old cupboards, the new flooring didn't fix the creaks, the finished nursery and bathroom didn't make up for the unfinished master-bedroom. I forgot to mention the dust on the bottom half of the coffee table, the living-room was, really, only superficially clean. Lets not forget I was already 1 week past my due date feeling eternally pregnant. All these criticisms within the first half hour of my mothers arrival should have made me second guess the decision for her to stay with my half sister but I just couldn't wait to get her out of my house.


My mother was here for 8 days when I finally had my baby. We brought our baby home and had family visit that night(second mistake). My husband bought some wine(third mistake) and my mother par-took in that wine, I believe she had 3 or 4 glasses. She was over the top with how wonderful her gifts she brought were, she bragged about signing up for the "Disney movie club", and explained the various things she did for us when we were babies (myself and my half sister...awkward). My sister and her husband had endured 8 days with my mother, apparently as critical as when she had came off the plane. The car ride home for them after the visit at my house ended up in a wine induced, swear-laden argument, over a singer started by my mother. It escalated into my mother berating my brother-in-law, she called him names, she made him feel like dirt, she made fun of his interests, and  she insinuated there was something wrong with him because he's generally quiet. My brother-in-law lost it on her and said she was not a mother(essentially true), she was overly critical of her children(very true), and she was not welcome in their home anymore(end of relationship with my half sister).


The day after we brought our baby home is the day I of course found out about the argument. My mother was dropped off at my home with my niece, and she told me all about how my brother-in-law went off the deep-end. She told me how she apologized to my niece and how my brother-in-law didn't. She told me how unsupportive he is of my sister, how lazy he is, how weird he is, and how he is essentially a bad person. I sat in my bed, exhausted, holding my newborn baby, listening to her recall what my brother-in-law said to her, and held back how I really felt. I was angry at my mother for being incredibly selfish. I was angry at her for blaming my brother-in-law for something she started. I was dying to say that everything he said was the truth, but I didn't say it. I just sat their with a calm expression, wanting to scream at her, but just quietly agreeing that yes, my brother-in-law was wrong and she was right. I cried for an hour after she left that day, I held my baby and promised him that I would never ever do anything like that to him, I'd rather die then hurt my children like that.

The next 3 days were unpleasant. My mother went and stayed with my brother and his family. Everyday I dreaded my mothers visit, she did nothing but talk about my sister and her husband and how they really hurt her feelings. She also continually badgered me about how the airconditioning was too low, how my living-room should be better organized, how much laundry I had to do, and how unhealthy the food my mother-in-law brought me was. I felt like I couldn't breathe around her for fear that I was doing it wrong. The day my mother finally left for home was the best day I had had since my baby was born, and that's a sad realization.


A few weeks after my mother left, my brother confided that her spouse had been jailed for 3 weeks and released two days before she flew to come visit us. We don't know much about her spouse, other then he's a bit of a flake, and upon further research has some kind of extensive criminal record. I recently recounted the events that took place with my mother over a conversation and gave her the opportunity to tell me about the "stress" that plagued her while she was here. She chose to tell me she was stressed about her divorce and failed to reveal her spouses various misgivings. As much as I want to blame her behaviour during the week I had my baby on her ridiculous personal life, the real problem is my mother. She chose to react rather then to think. She chose to take something beautiful and happy away from me and my family. My mother chose, and continues to choose her feelings over the feelings of her children. I would love to tell you that this is the only time that something so hurtful, so outrageous has happened, but I'd be lying. This is one of many disastrous events that has plagued my relationship with my mother, it's a peek inside the life of a child devoid of true maternal compassion. This is my life.