My mom spent most of her life being a bitch. When I was born, she was an alcoholic and my first memories of her are her being cruel to service people and rude to neighbors.
I hear stories of her teenage and young adulthood. She was beautiful. Mostly she had presence. One of those women that everyone looks at. ”They have style, they have flair” kind of thing. Incredibly popular. But she was high strung and often mean. Those are the stories.
Growing up, I was embarrassed that everyone must hate my mother.
When I was 21 my mother sobered up. I met a different person. She wasn’t mean anymore…well, mostly not mean. People gravitated to her. I was astounded, because I thought of her as a not particularly enjoyable human.
But I was wrong. People loved Mom. When she sobered up there wasn’t much trace left of the outer beauty, but all the style was still there. And she still had that elusive allure of charm that made people want to know her. Want to be her friend.
But occasionally, she still got these irrational dislikes of people. People she didn’t trust. To those people she was still not nice.
And she still had these ridiculous expectations. Or so they seemed to me. But now I wonder. She walked out of doctor’s or dentist’s offices who kept her waiting for more than 10 minutes. She walked out on a Nurse Practitioner she didn’t like.
She was quick to tell any service person who was an idiot, that they were indeed an idiot. Although, I admit she did it with such subtlety that its unlikely that they fully realized they had been insulted, but I’m sure felt they were dealing with a bitch.
On the one hand, she irrationally felt the world should work as she expected it. Computer failures and unexpected emergencies be damned. On the other, she NEVER had to wait at the doctor or the dentist after walking out the first time. You get what you demand.
All of this sounds like my mother was horrible. She wasn’t.
She NEVER once demanded, bitched or complained to me in the years I took care of her.
She was always appreciative and often sorry for what she perceived to be the burden of taking care of her.
She never ONCE interfered in my life or my choices. (or my sister’s)
She lent me money many times in my 20s when I was both poor and stupid about money. Never once said no, never once demanded it back, never once berated me about my money management.
I didn’t have an ideal mother growing up. She was neglectful and often cruel. She was, after all, an active alcoholic. I forgave her. And one day she sobered up and I met the different person, the one who was worth knowing.
She wasn’t perfect. And I don’t think I will ever be able to see her the way all of her friends and even my friends do. I feel like they are looking at a different reality than mine.
But, the person I knew, was worth knowing. And perhaps we can only know the part of people that our own lens on reality allows. Sometimes, you can watch and deduce from other people’s reactions that something is happening that you don’t see. But you are not able to see it because your view is blinded by certain experiences, certain beliefs.
I miss her a lot.