In my last post, I’d shared one of the small petty things that Mom does that tends to upset me and as I think about it more, I’m thinking that it’s not even petty. I think it’s a valid point. It upsets me that she refers to my younger sister as Max’s Other Mother.
Here’s why I’m currently leaning towards it’s not petty: Mom has a habit of “adopting” people because she thinks they need help. Help that, for what ever reason, they’re not getting from their own family. She (and sometimes the one receiving the help) refers to herself as their Other Mother. And it’s because they feel their mom isn’t being supportive when my mom is.
I greatly resent her calling my younger sister Max’s other mother precisely because it implies that she thinks I’m not living up to my mothering responsibilities. And, no, I don’t do everything the way Mom does or did it: I do not spend an insane number of hours cleaning my home like she used to (that 60’s era of 40+ hours a week doing housework). I don’t volunteer for the PTA. I’m lucky to get a veggie on the table with dinner and I hate cooking (but still do it). I don’t make the money that my sister and her husband make, so I don’t buy every little thing Max wants. My sister can spoil him and does, giving him an xBox One and then a PlayStation 4 when they came out. And I and Max are both thankful that she does buy him stuff like that. However, they’re ‘wants’ not ‘needs’ and Max would get along just fine without them. But I am a mom to Max. I love him, and support him. I don’t leave him guessing about where he stands in my heart or priorities; he knows it.
I’ve brought up that the other mother phrase bothers me to her and she waves it off. I’m being too sensitive, according to her. That’s not how she meant it and I should know that. And that’s when I hear it: the connection to how Sam treated me.
Sam frequently criticized me on how I parented Max. I babied him too much if I cuddled him as a toddler when he skinned his knee or bonked his head. I was inattentive if I stood too far away from the playground equipment while Max played on it. I was childish if I got down on the floor and pretended to be a momma bear to his baby bear. I was cold if I let Max play by himself. If I pushed back on it when Sam said anything, I was too sensitive, or misunderstood, or he was just joking, jeeesh.
I’m not sure what to make of that connection right now. I’m going to have to sit with it a while.
Some days are just hard. For no real reason that I can see. Or maybe every little thing that I’ve been trying to not worry about just piles up to be a weight that can’t be ignored. And they’re small. And they’re petty. And I’m tired. And I’m angry. And I thought I’d have a partner I loved and who loved me, and we could shoulder life’s responsibilities together. Someone to talk with. But I don’t and I’m alone.
Have I mentioned here: This past summer, I added on the responsibility of having my mom move in with Max and I. I naively thought she’d be able to help a little, because she’s not old. She’s not reached the age when she needs care; she just can’t comfortably afford a home on her own and needs to be here in town so she can get in to the medical center when she does get the flu or to keep an eye on her blood pressure. She does: help with small things around the home. But. I forgot she isn’t the parent I can rely on – unless it’s convenient for her. She’s inconstant and illogical and her desires take precedence even when she promised to help with <insert task>. I forgot that I had stopped telling her anything in my life when I was younger, because anything told to her – even in confidence – ended up being told to ev.er.y.one. So talking over any issues in my life with her isn’t an option.
To my day-to-day not-going-to-worry-abouts I add guilt over thinking that moving Mom in with us was a mistake, because, really, all it did was make life more complicated. And again, some of the things that tick me off are petty, her: doing Max’s chores when he’s slow to do them, losing the lids to the food storage containers, calling my younger sister Max’s “Other Mom” instead of his aunt [like I’m not taking care of him], talking about my relationship with Sam (which is old news) to god-knows-who on the phone. Having her around all the time makes me feel tired. And that’s not how I want my home to feel. And I feel guilty that it does.
I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t love her; I do. I appreciate the things she does do. I know I have issues with our relationship that need to be worked out and I try to make allowances for that. I know who she is and I know she’s not going to change. (And I’m terrified that Max will feel the same way about me as I do about my mom.)
I wish I had someone to talk to. I wish Mom could be one of those people I could talk with. And some days are just hard. And I try to remind myself that it’ll pass. But today, I’m tired.
Sam’s alcoholism is such a huge part of…. the problem, the relationship, him (?)…. that I have a hard time separating it from the abuse that he subjected me, and Max, to. Support group friends that I talk to about this – regardless of which support group it is, Alanon or the group for DV survivors – usually respond with “Does it matter if his abusive behavior was because of his drinking or if it’s just the way he is?” They tend to lean towards the it-doesn’t-matter side.
I’m torn. Part of me believes that it doesn’t matter. He was abusive. That’s all that matters and all I need to know. I don’t know why, but there is another part of me that really wants to know: would he have started treating his family the way he did if he didn’t drink? Are they two completely separate issues or two closely entwined issues or part of the same one? I don’t know. I don’t know why I feel I need to understand.
I came across this article today. I’m still amazed how reading accounts like those in the article can bring me right back to those dark little apartments, hiding in the back room, trying to keep Max safe. I have to remind myself as I read: we’re gone from that last apartment; we live in a cozy little home of our own; we are safe from Sam.
Alcohol Abuse – Alcoholism – Parenting.com.