Legal Quandary

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My Baggage Collection

My apologies in advance for the rambling I'm about to engage in.

First, I want to thank Denise for asking how my mom is doing. I really appreciate her asking - and I think the answer is that she's ok. A little sad, of course. And probably feeling a bit lonely right now, since she's lost her husband and mom in the last year. I'm an only child, so it kills me that I'm in DC and she's in Germany. I'd love to have her come stay with me, but she's got her hands pretty full right now.

Denise also said something else a while ago that I've been thinking about for a quite a while. She probably doesn't even remember saying it.

In December, Frequent Citations had a post up about her parents' wedding anniversary and I said "If I were a good daughter, I would have sent my mom flowers..." for what would have been my parents' 37th anniversary. And Denise said:

I know no one who is as good at packing her own bags for a guilt trip as you, excepting maybe me. :)


I don't deny the truth of that - at least as far as it pertains to me. But it made me think about how protective I am of my mom. My mom and I were always close while I was growing up. I think part of it was because she stayed home with me, and I was an only child. Another reason was because things weren't always great at home with my dad. So we sort of had to stick together to get through the crazy times. My mom always emphasized how important it was for me to be able to stand on my own feet. She wanted to make sure I got an education. She encouraged me to get my Air Force commission. Even when my dad and I weren't speaking, my mom was always my sounding board.

It's always been hard to listen to other people run my mom down. I don't doubt that my dad loved her, but he also belittled her. Instead of encouraging her to go to college, my dad told her she couldn't - and then told her she was stupid, lazy, and doomed to work menial jobs for the rest of her life. One of the most repeated phrases from my childhood was "Women want to rule the world, but can't even tie their own shoelaces." When my mom finally did go to college, she got straight A's. She never finished her degree, for various reasons, but stupidity and/or laziness were not among them.

Sadly, my Oma was also often critical of my mom. Maybe because my mom was the only girl. Or maybe because Oma was just old and tired of living toward the end. At any rate, the last time I talked to Oma was right before Christmas. My mom wasn't home, and Oma seemed confused about who I was. I think she thought I was my cousin, because she kept talking about my cousin's kids. But she complained pretty bitterly about how my mom wasn't good with sick people. How she always brought exactly the wrong food or did exactly the wrong thing.

It just makes me really sad to think that my mom has spent all her life trying to please people who've told her that she's never been quite what they wanted. Maybe she even felt that's what I was saying when I ran away from home at 13 - though my message (if you can call it that) wasn't directed toward her. The bottom line is that I never want my mom to feel anything less than loved and admired by me.

And that's why I have a very fine collection of guilt-trip baggage when it comes to my mom.

Comments:
lovely post. you and your mom are both in my thoughts.
 
I do remember saying that, actually.

And, to be clear, I think it's *wonderful* that you feel that way toward your mom. I have a very similar relationship and experience with my mom (and dad). I would hope that you would always do the best that you could when you think of your mom.

But, guilt is (IMHO) rarely a useful emotion. Rather, I tend to think of it as destructive toward one's own sense of self-worth and value. Do your best, certainly, but when something doesn't work out, for whatever reason, don't feel guilt over it. Don't beat yourself up. Look at how good you are and all that you've done. If the guilt acts as a trigger to do something positive, fine. Act on it (send the flowers) and then let the guilt go. Guilt, for guilt's sake is useless, or worse. (again, in my humble opinion).

My impression (and I'm guessing your mom's as well) is that you're a great daughter.
 
Mom's are wonderful and cannot be replaced. Even though I only met your mom once - she seemed to be a stellar lady!
LQ we pray all is going okay for you....when does Mr. Q go on his trip down under?
sil - j
 
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