Right now I am on my annual visit to my mother. This visit is very different from how I imagine it is for many friends visiting their parents. My mother is disabled and on social security. As such, she lives in a boarding house and has so for 17 years. She has no license, and thus no car. When we arrive, we rent a car, and drive to our hotel. We visit her twice a day, as she needs a nap in the middle of the day. Those visits occur in the park or at the hotel, as children are not welcome in her home. Right now, she is being asked to move as the house has sold - she is really stressed. This is all she talks about. Times like this, I feel myself slip into a pity party.
My mom and I have had a challenging relationship ever since the divorce and this annual visit has always been hard for me. Since having kids, I have been slowly mending our relationship, understanding that it is up to me. So I call once every week or two and prepare for the hour or two long call about this and that. We avoid the topic of my dad or her sister. My brother hasn't seen her in years, but the two are not openly antagonistic even though he admitted to me that the next time he sees her will be at her funeral. If I miss a couple of weeks between calls, she gets paranoid. My mom misses birthdays and Christmas, not calling or sending a card. The phone calls after my birthday are the hardest as she spends the call explaining why she forgot. Sometimes I pretend I didn't have a birthday. The phone calls after the kids' birthdays are also hard as she explains why she's so busy and then laments that the kids don't know her. Maybe they would if she sent a card every now and again. She is pretty much a one way person and my brother explains that this is why he stopped trying. She can forget everyone else, but gets terribly upset when she is forgotten. She is immature and self-centered in this way, but she is my mom. At night, after the kids are in bed, I pause and wonder what I do that is like my mom and if I will grow up to be like her. Then I try to stop judging and instead to be more forgiving. Then I long for the childhood that I feel was robbed from me 24 years ago when she kicked my dad out of the house and accused him of molesting me.
Visiting every year is the right thing to do. My children will know my mom through the photo album and the few pictures a year I capture. My husband admitted that he thinks of sending me alone now that the kids are older and a little easier to manage while traveling. He is so good during these trips, but I can tell that they are hard on him too.
So after day three on too little sleep in a couped up hotel, I'm ready for a vacation from my vacation, and an end to my pity party too!