Whoa. There's a site? Not only that, but when I started looking around I was amazed. How the hell did these people know what happened in my house when I was growing up? It's not a pretty picture. But it is such a huge relief to know that I didn't make all this up and that I'm not the only one who had a less than ideal childhood.
My mother was brilliant. Spoke 5 languages. Thought Mensa was her own personal dating club. And was very, very damaged. In all fairness, my mother was the daughter of an immigrant, who was the daughter of an immigrant. Families were uprooted. Children were killed. My family's story is one of unimaginable grief and suffering.
My daughter has heard a few of these conversations and is trying to make sense of who my mother, whom she never met, was. Today, on the way to school, she asked what my mother did that was mean. I found myself explaining that my mother was a hot/cold mother. (Hot/cold friends are the high drama friends who are your friend one day, but not the next.)
Without missing a beat, my daughter said, "That sounds terrible. I'm lucky that you are a warm mommy." (Warm friends are those who you can always count on to be warm and friendly, without the drama.) "Although you do get cold when you get mad at me." (Dully noted.)
And then she wanted to know what my mother did that was cold. Yikes. Me: She told me I wasn't good at the things I liked to do.
E: Like what?
Me: Like if I was riding my bike or singing she would say 'You're not very good at that.'
E: (slightly outraged) You'd never say that to me! You always tell me that you like the way I ride my bike. Your mom sounds really mean.
I can't believe that I'm having this conversation with my almost 6 year old. It makes me wonder what she really understands.
And how does she make sense of our relationship? As she was getting out of the car, my daughter says to me "I'm glad you're not a mean mom." I respond, "I decided to do things differently."
As I continue to let go of the painful parts of my relationship with my mother, I also find myself being grateful. Grateful that I was given the gift of independence. That as a kid I never got homesick and learned to love traveling and adventure. That in her craziness, my mother provided me with music lessons, good schools, and lots of opportunities to explore the world.
And so it is that now, decades later, I am finally healing the wounds of my own childhood. I am so very grateful for my partner, my daughter, the friends and community that we have created around us. And, in some strange way, I am grateful to be my mother's daughter. It's what makes me who I am.