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Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Mom....She's No Claire Huxtable but I Love Her

Yeah, I was a princess...

I always go to the store before Mother's Day and look for a card for my mom.  The ones available are always sappy and sentimental, and are never quite right.  My mom is not sappy.  She's curt.  She's brash.  She curses.  She says whatever pops in her head, with no apologies.  She can build you up, but also can cut you down.

She has always been a homemaker.  She was a week shy of 23 when she became a Mom.  She had three years alone with my brother.  She tells me he was a handful so when I came along, I assume she was relieved.  Her first daughter.  Now she could buy girl stuff, and do girly things.  Dolls and cribs and bows and dance class and gymnastics.  A former hairdresser, she was always wanting to mess with my hair but I mostly wanted it in two ponytails.  Karma got me back and is why my beautiful blonde Chillgirl makes me put her hair in a boring old ponytail every day.

My mom didn't waste time getting me a sister to keep me busy.  Maybe I talked too much?  She tells me Lil Lady reminds her of me, and I know my daughter constantly challenges me.  She needed me to have a playmate, and fast.  My sister and I are 22 months apart, so I know my mom was a busy lady.  She was home with the three of us every day while my dad worked.  She always seemed pretty okay with this, although I remember times she'd go in her room and shut the door.  I use this tactic myself when feeling ganged up on.  As we got older and in school, she found part-time jobs and volunteer work out of the house.  I will assume this was to get away from us kids. I totally understand.

Most of the time I am on good terms with her.  Like I said, she isn't a mom you can always expect kisses and hugs from.  You never know what's coming out of her mouth, and I think she likes to live that way.  Her mom was the same way.  Those Italian Women hit 50 years old and decide "Fuck It" is their new mantra.

She's always got an opinion on what's going on in my life.  Now that my dad is retired, she and he live close to me and my sister, but they stay local.  They are not travelers or sightseers.  She has neighbors and church friends to be social with, but she's always willing to listen and offer advice on what I'm doing.  We talk about things going on with me and my kids.  She asks about my love life.  She actually asked Sinatra "when are you going to make an honest woman outta her?" recently.  Some of our biggest fights were over the men in my life.  She hasn't really liked me with any of them and she doesn't make any bones about telling me that.  Sinatra seems to be winning her over for the most part, but she wants him living here and apparently making an honest woman out of me.

Very high school dance chaperones

I have always thought she wanted more in her life, and her criticizing and snarky comments come from her own dissatisfaction.  Her and my dad do not have what anyone would call a loving marriage, they tolerate each other.  It has been that way as long as I can remember.  In their elder years, they've gotten quite nasty to each other and my sister and I hear from both of them the about their fights.  My dad takes off to have meals by himself a lot.

When I went through my divorce, she at first told me not to stay in a marriage that was unhappy or I'd end up like her.  Then when my ex and I separated, she changed her tune, telling me to make him stay away for a few weeks, but let him come back.  When I said it was really over and he wouldn't be coming back, she was really negative and worried, but I knew all her fears and regrets were HERS, not mine.  She may have wanted out of her marriage, but never could do it.  I was doing it.  She didn't know what to do with me.

Seriously, my hair in this one? But I look skinny! yay!

My mom has always been a great grandmother to my kids, letting them play in her house, in her shoes and play clothes, and cooking meals and baking sweets with them.  She's not a sports-lover, but will come to a dance or choir event for them.  She will babysit, but her limit is about 3-4 hours and then both her and my dad seem to need a break.

My mom has never seen me at a triathlon.  She doesn't even ask that often about my sport.  She doesn't get it, but she worries I'm going to hurt myself.  If she saw me do it, she would understand its not dangerous, and it's thrilling and confidence-building.  She needs some of that inspiration these days.

My mom has not been physically well in a very long time.  She has been in pain from one area or another for many, many years.  It began with abdominal surgery, I think it was an appendicitis that wasn't really a appendicitis, and kidney stones.  Later came adhesions that twist her intestines and block her digestion.  She always has had something hurting her and it takes her out of her life, and puts her in bed either crying out in pain, or heavily medicated.

Today, Nana and her grandaughters

She has been in and out of hospitals and rehab centers for the few years with foot, leg and back surgeries.  She has never been physically strong or active and her balance was off and she started to trip over curbs and even fell down some stairs.  At some point she stepped hard on one foot off a curb and damaged a tendon.  It didn't heal itself and eventually that led to a heel and Achilles's tendon surgery on her right leg.  That was weeks without walking and then rehab started to help, but she didn't continue rehabbing so it got worse again.  Every time she's been in the hospital for something she's had a complication, either with the incision or medications. She is a horrible patient and doesn't do what she's told with rehab.  This translates to constant trips back and forth to doctors, and my dad handles it all.  Not gracefully I might add, he's understandably very bitter his life has become a driver and caregiver for a very ungrateful, crabby old lady.  They are quite toxic to each other a lot of the time.

A body holds its strength in its muscles, which protect its bones, and my mom has no muscle-tone.  I've preached to her about exercising, especially in the pool where she was doing really well with after a few of the surgeries.  But once the prescription for rehab is done, and she would have to make a decision to sign up for pool-time and get herself there, she bails.  She prefers her couch and her TV, while smoking cigarettes and drinking Coke.  She thinks walking around the house is enough.  My active lifestyle is "crazy", but she's the one who's body is falling apart.

Last year it was more pain from fused vertebrae and a back surgery, I assume from all her sitting and not exercising.  Then it was arthritis in her right hip, and a hip replacement this past Fall.  Her weak physical strength caused her to fall and break the attachment of the implant, it was repaired with a 2 week stay in a rehab hospital around Christmas.   From those hospital stays she developed a staph infection that she's been in surgery twice for already in the last few months.  The hip implant has now been removed and she has a temporary implant filled with antibiotics and she is not able to rehab until this one is removed and a new one implanted.  Today she's tucked away in a nursing facility under heavy antibiotics and pains meds and is only able to move from the bed to a wheelchair.  Happy Freakin' Mother's Day.

Her attitude through all this has left everything to be desired.  She tells her rehab workers they are a pain in her ass.  They laugh at her.  She likes being the feisty one.  Her and my dad are getting downright hateful to each other, but it's mostly coming from her.  He's passive-aggressive and she's just aggressive.  I believe her frustration with losing all control of her life and body is what drives her outbursts.  She attacks my dad, my sister, or me if we aren't doing what she wants.  My sister defends my dad and the two of them get the worst of her wrath.  I try to stay neutral and talk about other things and so far during this nursing facility stay we have remained calm.

She has a long road ahead of her before she can begin to rehab and walk, or even come home.  She has to want to follow doctor's orders and change her lifestyle if she ever expects to get there.  Her body and her personality may never be back to her past normal.

I miss her at her best.  She is a funny, smart, irreverent woman, whom I love.  She is my MOM.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom


  1. Thank you for an honest blog post on Mother's Day..Not implying that others posts are not, but relationships are not always picture perfect. The benefit of that I believe is that we are stronger as a result!

  2. Wow, this is a powerful post, my friend. I love your honesty. It's not easy to admit these things publicly about your relationship with your mom. Bravo.