Saturday, May 24, 2014

The relationship I don't have with my mother

My mom has been in the hospital for the past two weeks.  The reasons involve obstinacy and a flagrant disregard for her health. She is one week shy of her 80th birthday.

I've visited her once or twice a day since she was put into the hospital.  It's the most time we've spent together in a two week span in as long as I can remember.  It has been a sad reminder of our lack of closeness.

I don't think it's me.  I have a couple of friends that I can spend 8 hour days with and never run out of things to talk about.  I regularly talk with my sister for 30 to 90 minutes at a time.  I get into long conversations with co-workers.

I don't think it's her.  From the number of people who have called in concern and who check on her status regularly, my mom is a popular person.  She can talk on the phone with my youngest brother for a long time.

Somehow it's us.  Together we run out of conversation in only a few minutes.  Oh, we've had the occasional dinner out together where we've talked for an hour or so.  About my siblings, my niece and nephew, about people we know in common.

But our normal is five minutes of conversation, then an attempt to find something to talk about.  That's why we play a lot of Scrabble when I visit.

I have closed off any inner part of my self that I could share with her.  I learned long ago, from two different instances, that what I tell her in private won't stay private.  She will share it with her friends.  And it will be brought up again at a most inconvenient time.

So I don't share anything really important to me.  We both read, but not the same kinds of book, so that doesn't take us long to exhaust.  She has no understanding of, or care to understand, my work.  Conversations about my dogs keep her interest a little now that she is confined to a bed.  But normally she changes the subject.

She does that often.  Change the subject.  If I do have something I feel I can share with her, she changes the subject.  Sometimes in mid-story.  I take that as a lack of interest in what I am talking about.


She's low maintenance.  At least for me.  She and my sister have a much different relationship.  But my mom only expects periodic visits or phone calls, and gifts for Christmas and her birthday.  She doesn't expect, or want, us to be by her bedside all the time she is in the hospital.

I knew a woman, long before free long distance, who lived here in Arizona and called her mother in Massachusetts every single day.  I can't imagine what one would want to talk about every single day.

But sometimes, occasionally, I wish I knew what that felt like.

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