Monday, November 26, 2012

Where To Start?

"Going anywhere for Thanksgiving?," someone asked me last week before the big holiday.

"Ugh, yes, my mother's," I said with an eye roll.  "I haven't seen in here in almost a year, should be fun," I added a bit flippantly.

The person (a nice, normal looking mom in the waiting room at Wade's speech therapy class) looked at me very seriously with wide innocent eyes and said "oh, I'm sorry, I can't imagine that."

"Oh, she's a little crazy and an addict and well, um, it's complicated," I said with a wave of my hand.  "What are your plans?," I quickly asked changing the focus.

I forget that not everyone can understand having a mother like mine.

This year, Thanksgiving was, Thanksgiving-y.  
Brothers and cousin.  Boys + giant leaf pile= fun (and leaves in their mouths, but they didn't seem to mind that much).
Only Lucy's plate looked like this.  Who doesn't eat turkey on Thanksgiving? Come on!

There was turkey and stuffing, football on TV (per tradition the Lions lost), cousins playing, pie.   It was, um, well, fine.  Which is a million times better than last year.

Last Thanksgiving was pretty hellish.  Right before we all sat down to eat dinner at my sister's house, my mother fell down the stairs and broke her neck (read the whole horrible story here).    The rest of the weekend last year was spent waiting in the hospital, trying to figure out all the details of a very complicated medical case that is my mother.

A lot of times writing about my mother, thinking about my mother or trying to explain my mother gets confusing.  Where do I start?  Do I go back and tell people about how she really was such a sweet, fun, loving mother when I was a little girl? Do I tell people what it was like as a teenager watching her heart break, her mind go manic and her body go heavy with the deepest, darkest depression?

Do I tell the stories about her her desperation for a connection to somebody, anybody?  How she used to pour her heart out to anyone who would listen, even the Encyclopedia salesperson that came to the door? Yes, people I am so old that salespeople, selling research manuals, actually went door to door.  Do I tell people how he looked like he would hand over his daily sales just to get the hell out of there?

Or do I tell people about the alcohol and drug addiction that she's battled for over 20 years?  Do I tell people that when she moved to California when I was 17 to marry someone she knew only a couple months (and didn't invite me or my siblings to the wedding) it was the best thing that ever happened to me?  I was 17 and on my own and able to break free of the negative spell she cast on me.  Free to discover that I wasn't the horrible, unintelligent, insensitive, slutty person she had me believing I was.

Maybe I should tell people that I'm not angry or bitter.  

I'm tired. My mother seemingly has more than nine lives. Accidents (cars, stairs, overdoses, etc.) don't stop her.  And just try to help her...she'll suck the life out of you.  That's what happened the last two years, when I went to her bedside when the the hospital or neighbor called.

I'm sad sometimes.  It's all a little overwhelming when I think about how full her life could be.  And even though I am almost 40, there are moments when I long for a mother.  A mother who could give me advice and unconditional love and make me feel stronger, better.

I'm not angry.  It is very hard to be angry or hateful about mental illness.  And my mother suffers from something mental, yet to be successfully diagnosed and treated however.  

Maybe I should tell people humor helps me cope.  Cope with all those accidents, the past and even a so called "normal" Thanksgiving-y Thanksgiving.

I mean it's a little funny that this year my mother was more interested in showing me her latest purchase (honestly a very cool hair dryer/brush in one, which I tried when she wasn't looking) from QVC than asking about how my kids are doing in school.  
Now playing, all the time, at my mother's house....QVC.

It's a little funny that she was lighting her cigarettes on the stove burner dropping ashes in the stuffing.  

I may not know where to start, but I know which way to go right now.  It may be hard for people to understand but since last Thanksgiving I had to set up boundaries--I had to make my own children and husband a priority over a mother who will never get better.  And it's okay, I get that not everyone will get it.

After spending the successful (meaning nobody fell or overdosed) holiday day, the rest of my weekend was spent at my house with those children and that husband I prioritized.

Movie nights--the silly slapstick in Home Alone 2 gets my kids laughing every time. I'm a little more like "eh, whatever Joe Pesci" but love to see and hear my kids laugh.

My husband wins the greatest dad EVAH award...he has some seriously good Barbie story lines (gets them all from the alternative high school where he is a principal).
A little make-believe never hurt ANYONE. Here's Lu in my old prom dress. 

The magic and fun of the first snow (snowball fight).
Hot cocoa in Santa cups is mandatory this time of year.
And moving on to the next holiday.


  1. I am 18 and I can relate 120% to how it was back when you were 18... I am just now realizing I can't change my mother anymore and I am sick of trying. It sucks. Its sooo hard to go though because I feel like no one has that type of mother or has ever been through the types of stuff I had to deal with..

    1. Well you are not alone and I'm so glad you left a comment. I hope you can see that you can survive a crazy mother. You probably can't fix her and you'll be left with some issues (sorry can't sugar coat it), but you can have a very happy life. At 18, you are in it man, it is hard. Once you are more on your own it will get a little better. It is sad, hard, upsetting, distressing, depressing and I get it. But my advice is to keep on keepin on and try to find some humor in things and know that you aren't alone.