Unfixable.

I know that I do not get the same consideration from my own daughter when it comes to “cause and effect” that my mother continues to be shown, and somehow always has been shown, in spite of our tattered history. When my little brother killed himself, my mom’s way to cope with the blow was to try and erase him from her memory altogether: an element between she and I that hung bitterly in the stale air between us for years. She never speaks of him; she never lets me talk about him in any context in her presence without either full-blown freaking out, or changing the subject with blatancy sharp enough to leave a mark.
I have come to accept and understand over time that this has been the only way she has been able to continue on with her own existence after losing a child to suicide in the way that she did; and am only now beginning to see that this response was initially not one of choice for her. It was the effect attached to specific causes: those of profound emptiness, loss and failure. One of the most difficult things about coming to grips with acceptance surrounding my own child – and my own loss, emptiness and failure – has always been the absence of so many points of reference for me. I don’t know what a mother “should” look like or act like to her child; I have only ever winged it and did what felt right when it came to Boo.
Now, it has become unarguable that most (if not all) of those things were not right; no denying that I was an inadequate mom or else she would never have grown up to become what she did. But, I also think of a lot of other facts and truths that surround us such as how I also had an inadequate mom. I had a mom who was a violent and unstable drunk during my childhood; she was always high on drugs also, and kept like-minded company. My father fought tooth and nail to keep us protected from her unpredictable nature; she was painted very differently than I could possibly come close to being depicted by my daughter. Or was she?
Granted, I was not the type of mom who hit – I never even spanked Boo besides to SWAT at her backside with gentle care when she was a toddler; our experiences with a mother in the big, bad world were most certainly very different in almost every way. I am nurturing because my mom was the opposite; I was attentive because my mom seemingly forgot all about me and my brothers after we were born; I was protective and overbearing because of those reasons, too. I was so involved with her life as much as possible: a yard duty at her elementary school, the PTA, class mom, field trips, etc. I exhausted myself at all times with her IEP and the constant red tape around getting her through school because of her behavioral issues. I admit that she overwhelmed me at times, but I always wanted best for her, I never got any satisfaction from her struggles or tears like my mom did with me. We had very different mothers, indeed.
Now comes my point:
I had a father.
Not just any father, either – I was blessed with an exceptionally special Dad (and a long line of older brothers).
Boo had…well, we all know what she had, don’t we? Boo had the Ripper for a father in the slice of time that she had one in her life at all, before he tried to murder her mother and then was gone to prison before dying on the inside of those walls…Boo never had a Dad, hardly a father. I have concluded that it is this (very often overlooked) factor in the comparisons people (including myself) make between me and my daughter’s characteristic traits that defines the essences of those differences down to the nano-fiber. When I think of what my own existence could have and likely would have been like in the absence of my Dad, my knees often feel weakened by the thought alone. Now, I imagine actually living that reality from one day to the next like Boo must…and yes, I see.
I know that in many ways, I haven’t failed as Boo’s mother in the years I was allowed to be her mom; but in this one major and unfixable way, I failed her immeasurably.

2 thoughts on “Unfixable.

  1. I also mother by reacting opposite to my mother. Loving mothers (which you know you are) always, ALWAYS do the best they can with what they have, because they cannot stand to do less. Hugs, always.

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