This is a Picture of Me, My Mom, and My Brother Jason. I think I Was About 5 in This Picture, Making My Brother 3. My Mom Would Have Been in Her Mid-20s. It Seems Like This Picture Was Taken a Lifetime Ago...
It'll be 10 years on July 26th since my mom has departed from this planet...suddenly without notice and seemingly before her time.
Since her physical death, I've felt this heavy sense of loneliness, despondency, and despair that has become nothing but the "norm" in my day-to-day emotional psyche set that I've, unfortunately, gotten used to like a low-grade grinding on my soul. I often wonder how many other people have to sustain a lifetime of grieving that they haven't been able to quite grasp no matter how many prayers, meditations, or trips to the shrink couch they've taken.
Always when trying to dig to the bottom of how or why I feel this chronic black cloud tethered permanently above me and inside my heart, it always comes back to the loss of my mother. This, of course, is strange considering that my mother and I didn't always see eye to eye and we certainly didn't agree on most anything. Our life motto's are completely opposite. But she's my mom.
I think our near-lifelong contention started when my brother came into the picture. This would be circa 1976. I would be only 2 years old, too young to sense this clear preference that she had for my brother over me but that would come later. I would start to notice this favoritism as time went on throughout my childhood when he seemed to get all the toys he wanted, more attention from her, more compliments, and more "babying" overall.
And it only worsened as time went on.
She had a variety of excuses as to why we weren't "close" starting with the laughable one where the doctors had taken me away from her the moment I was born...so we had no time to bond. She almost fooled me with this senseless spiel except that I immediately realized that this would be bullsh** after I had my daughter; I would come to learn first hand that a mother-daughter bond is formed over the first 6 months to a year and doesn't just "happen" at the split-second of birth.
The next excuse would be that her and my brother were similar "peas in a pod" and just got along better. If I would have been more generous, loving, funnier, or fill in the blank, maybe we would have "clicked" a little better, she'd tell me. But we didn't. And that was that.
And so it was...I would bear the emotional battery of these almost-innocuous comments here and there as I would enter adulthood.
But she was a good mom overall. She took care of the basic necessities, cooked to an acceptable degree, and loved us as best as she knew how considering that her childhood was nothing but neglect, abuse, and the loss of her father at the ultra-sensitive age of only 13 years old. During which her mother would be in and out of a psyche ward while battling alcoholism and letting her kids basically raise themselves throughout high school and beyond.
My mom would talk about breaking the cycle with her own kids. I didn't see it then. But I see it now. Even doing a little bit better for your own kids from the way you were raised yourself is a huge stride in the right direction. She broke a vicious cycle of abuse, neglect, and alcoholism...almost anyway.
My dad had an affair during the summer when I'd transition from the 7th and 8th grade. We moved that fall to California where my mom sank herself into an endless downward spiral of drinking from that point on. My teenage version of Monica would tell my mom to suck it up and move on. No man is worth destroying yourself over. The 40-year-old version of Monica would have physically smacked her in the face and yelled, "Suck it up and get your f****** ass together!"
But I'd never be able to tell her that. Because she's gone now. I think she knows though. On some level anyway.
As time went on alcoholism spurred into drug abuse. This would be throughout high school and college for me. My parents divorced during that time and went their own separate ways. My theory is that the drug abuse is what gave her the brain tumor. But that's just a theory. Who knows if it's remotely close to what happened.
I cringe at how badly my mom emotionally struggled during those years and I'm grateful that through my emotional struggles I don't succumb to alcohol and drug abuse like she did. I'm thankful that I'm much stronger than she was.
It would take my mom being on her death bed to admit to me why she always "favored" my brother and gave him more attention. She told me, "You were always the independent one who could take care of yourself."
Compliment? To me, yes. Absolutely.
When my mom died, she left the majority of her life insurance policy to my brother. It was a slap in the face to me. No, I didn't need the money and I would have given the money to my brother anyway but it was the act of her "dissing" me like that that pissed me off. It was as if it was her last slap in the face to confirm that he was, in fact, her "favorite" all along.
Then, in a peaceful meditation, I heard my mom's voice which said, "I always knew you could always take care of yourself." I can and I have.
After my mom died, I seemed to be okay with it even though I had wished we had more "healing" time together before she passed. Then when I had my daughter 3 years later, it opened the wounds up wide and deep. I had nobody to watch my daughter grow or ask questions about how to raise a baby. I was essentially alone raising a little girl by myself with no help from mom or anyone else for that matter.
Or at least I thought. Strangely, my daughter says she "knows" my mom and has seen her here and there.
I guess Mom has really been helping me all along, even in from the other side. I know this because when the going gets tough being a mom, I get this sense of peace shrouded over me and then I plant myself in the moment with my little girl because I'm reminded that they go so fast. And pretty soon my time will be over with her just as my time with my mom ended long ago.
So, on this special Mother's Day, I'd like to say, "Thanks Mom. Thanks for doing the best you could and for still being around. I'll see you again after my duty as a mom has been fulfilled in this incarnation. Thanks again!"
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. Being a mom is the most noble and honorable job any woman could ever be blessed to have. Keep up the good work!!
See you at the top!