I don’t have many childhood memories of my Mother even though I lived with her. My mother was always working, always in the background and always unsatisfied.
- I remember the one day, she took me to a popular park. We took pictures at a pond. She hurried me home. She was happy that day.
- I remember the one day, I bothered her while she wrote her book, she was very upset. She left the room abruptly with her stack of papers.
- I remember the one day, she taught me the chinese sword dance, she was disappointed that I couldn’t remember all the moves.
- I remember that Sunday was the one day she had to spend with me. She often took me to my grandmother’s. She talked to the grown ups while I played with my cousins.
As I aged, my mother spent more time appeasing me.
- There was the time that she showed me pictures of her trips around the US with my dad during her “child-free” years. I was back in the “old country” living in my sociopathic uncle’s abusive household. She was so proud. She glowed. She pointed at all the places she visited with dad. It was her long awaited honeymoon. In each picture, they were both smiling wildly. I didn’t know how to react to that. I was numb.
- There was the time that she brought me to “Banana Republic” to try to buy me a shirt after I told her that I was bullied at school for the way I dressed. After seeing the way she looked at the price tags, I told her that I didn’t need the shirt. We left without buying a shirt. She was happy that day.
- There was the time in high school, she held me while I cried: telling her about my suicidal thoughts. She asked me how long we were going to sit there on the floor together. It was cold, we’d better go back to bed. It was that day that I decided to rely on myself.
- I remember asking her to leave dad exactly two times in my life. Each time, she cowered. The second time, she took longer to respond. She disappeared for a year. When she came back, she screamed often about the dirty dishes in the sink.
- I remember our breaking point came in college. One day, I was so angry at her that I pushed her hard. She never forgave me.
As a youg adult, at family dinners, I remember berading her for not being a mother to me. She held a grudge. She hated me.
After a while, I came to my senses. I tried to make amends by taking her on mother-daughter bonding trips. I figured all she needed was some self-confidence. So, I pampered her. She resented it. Each time, she always had an excuse to mentally “check out”. She didn’t want to be there.
In the last few years, I stood up for her every time dad disparaged her. She appreciated that. In retirement, she changed. She’s different. She found herself. She gained confidence. She’s more ready to be a mother.
The last time I saw her, she cowered to my dad one last time. I wished her well. I left them for good.
You see, my mother’s a woman who never wanted to be a mother. She loved her intellectual life. She loved reading, writing, painting and traveling. She was a “genius” who was compelled to create. Motherhood limited her in Countless Ways. The culture she lived in and the hardships in her life limited her in countless ways. She resented all of it.
I mourn the fact that I never had a real mother. But in the process, I’ve learned that my mother loved me the best that she could. Her narcissistic parenting Left me with a shell of a self. But, she also taught me the value of reparenting myself.
In the recent years, I’ve gained perspective. I have a new mother. She is me. She was inside me all along. She is all I need.
9 Memories of My Mother was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.