This I Believe

Joan - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on February 5, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: love

For so long I intellectualized the relationship between mothers and their adult children, including my own relationship with my mother. Now with my own adult child there is no intellectualizing…just heartfelt ouch.

I believe that life is about loving and being loved, also about hurting and being hurt. I bellieve that mothers will, unwittingly, hurt and be hurt by their children. I believe it is what we do with that love and hurt that influences our own emotional health and the quality of our relationships for now and maybe for a long time to come. It is hard to know when it all happens. It, is the good and not so good parts of life. I believe that we come into this world with our own special agenda which is nurtured, or not by a good or not so good fit between mother and child. The youngest of three, I was loved, manipulated and diminished by parents and brother. The good and the bad way in which others see us and the picture we internalize of ourself, so often enters our beings at such an unconscious level. So I grew up unaware that my relationship with my own mother, although loving, was laced with ambivalence. I did not seek her out, nor ask her opinion. I certainly did not want to be anything like her. I was at times unkind, passively ignoring her and her attempts at having a relationship. It would take until my middle years to understand the joy and intense pain of being someone’s mother. After 5 years of being in a tortured relationship, my son was born. He arrived with a distinct and persistent personality. I was the loving mother, not the structured, disciplined mother he needed. I yielded to the “needs” of the infant, the toddler and the child. Some three years later, his dad and I separated, and my job description would now include income producer, mother and father. I did some things really well and other things really badly. Here’s what today looks like to me. My son has grown up. He graduated college, has a job, is engaged to the girl of his dreams . I think that he is happy, but I don’t know that for sure. For you see, just as my ambivalent relationship with my mother left her in pain, my son’s ambivalence, avoidance and anger has left me in profound pain. Efforts to be open and honest about the past and the present are met with cool indifference. I’m left with the feeling of sadness that still another generation of mother and adult child ends up in this painful dance of loving and hurting and of being loved and hurt. I am hopeful that someday, we’ll build a loving and trusting relationship. I just hope that it doesn’t take until he’s in his middle years and I in my last years.