Today is my Mother’s 72nd birthday. (This photo is from about ten years ago) After a nice visit, where my niece, and then my nephew and his family stopped by, I was saying goodbye, when Mom said something that kind of stunned me.
“I’m just sorry I wasn’t a better mother for you. Maybe then you wouldn’t have been so… unhappy.”
I don’t recall her ever having mentioned anything to give me a hint that she might have felt inadequate as a parent, and that I might have suffered as a result.
As I was leaving, I told her, of course, that she was the best, and there was no doubt of that. Especially, I said, if she were to compare herself to some of the mothers of people I knew growing up. Some of them were real witches! I told her that if anyone ever thought of her as a witch, it could only have been as Glinda. (Interestingly, The Wizard of Oz came out in the same year Mom was born. Coincidence? I think not.)
As I was driving home, it occurred to me that she might have been carrying this burden of thinking herself inadequate for some time. As that thought process worked it’s way through my head, it collided with several baggage cars of my own personal freight train. In no particular order: I had never noticed that she might be feeling like a failure as a mother, that I come across as “unhappy” or at least seemed that way to her, now or in the past, and that she might be feeling responsible for my difficulties coming to terms with my homosexuality.
I think we’re going to have to have a talk.