Dream Reader: Perspectives On…Being A Disappointed Daughter

Mom-Dad-and-MeAs I delve more into blogging each day, sharing my perspectives, I’m challenged with the notion that I am a disappointed daughter. My mother may never see this, not because she has passed on, but because she is living in a nursing home since 2010, at the young age of 74.

Mom’s health has always been poor; I remember as a kid in the early 1960s, how she had bottles of prescription meds for sleeping, for waking up, and probably “mama’s little helpers” for all I know. She was very much the hypochondriac! At age 40, she contracted lupus, which slowly took her health away. By 2009, Mom, still living by herself (divorced my dad at age 39), started showing signs of dementia. Because she was on Medi-Cal as a result of the divorce, she was taking so many medications from different doctors that her health was failing on every level. I was disappointed by Mom’s manipulation as well as the doctors for not taking better care of her.

My mother is the daughter of educators but she married young and lived the typical “housewife and mother” lifestyle, raising three kids (one daughter, two sons); and consequently never finished her college degree. Disappointing…she was one math class away from a B.S.

She took great care of us but she was obsessed with vacuuming and putting on her hair and make-up all day long. She did not like to cook, so my Dad would cook after coming home from working all day. By the time I was 16 and learning to drive, Mom decided she wanted to re-learn how to drive. By the time I started college at 18, she decided to work on her degree. A little friendly competition there, Mom?

My husband and I live 500 miles away from most of our families who still live in San Diego.  We get to San Diego two-three times a year. Visiting Mom in the nursing home, or at a family gathering, results in her telling me how happy she is to see me, while telling me 10 times in 5 minutes how pretty my blouse is.

I feel my Mom’s poor health and distance robbed me of a good relationship with her—no fault of anyone, really. But…it disappoints me.

However…

Mom did teach me valuable life lessons. The innate educator in her compelled her to teach me how to read at age four, spell such words as “constitution” (I can barely type it!), and made me sound out words phonetically—all good skills! By the way, Mom had an IQ of at least 165 (but acted like the proverbial “absent-minded professor” with little common sense). In high school, Mom insisted I take Latin (!) as my language requirement, and she could still remember hers and could still conjugate verbs (“amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant”)! In college while still living at home for a bit, we would debate philosophy and religion and she would help me write my term papers!

For recreation, Mom always insisted we go somewhere every Saturday or Sunday, whether it was to church, the beach (we lived in San Diego), the zoo, Sea World, or trips to the snow in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Every summer we camped for two weeks in Sequoia and/or Yosemite National Parks. This instilled a strong leisure ethic in me that exists to this day and has been passed down to my daughters.

Mom also bred and showed collies, which took us all over Southern California, then to the Pacific Northwest while we lived in Oregon for two years. Ever had hairy, panting, drooling dogs sit next to you in the backseat of the car on road trips? Yay. Our collies did well, many reaching championship status. With 10-12 dogs in the backyard (never came in the house, too hairy, and Mom vacuumed enough as it was), my brother and I had the pleasure of not walking the dogs daily, but riding our bikes holding the dogs’ leashes so the dogs could trot next to us! Needless to say, we were all in great shape!

bike dog

When my first daughter was born, Mom drove up to Northern California every SIX weeks for a week to be with her. She was and is obsessed with babies and toddlers. As the kids grew, Mom spent hours looking for just the right birthday and Christmas gifts, which of course, needed a lengthy explanation. As a grandmother, she played with my daughters, read to them and bought them clothes.  Mom taught my oldest daughter to read and play music on a recorder. My daughter went on the play clarinet. Mom was indeed a talented musician, playing recorder, viola and French horn.

Dear Mom, if you ever read this, please know that I love you despite my own perceived disappointments. Mothers and daughters may have ambivalent relationships, but you instilled the love of leisure and the love of education in me and from these my disappointment turns to everlasting gratitude.

Love, ???????????????????????????????????????

Your daughter

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17 thoughts on “Dream Reader: Perspectives On…Being A Disappointed Daughter

  1. This is brilliant. What a great post.

    Thanks for sharing. Every family dynamic is unique and it was great to get an insight into yours.

    Have a great afternoon!

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  2. I stopped by again to thank you for following my blog but decided to leave a comment on yours as well. The subject of mother-daughter relationships is often tenuous. Mine was with my mother so I feel what you have written here. I think that’s why I didn’t comment on my original read. It took a lifetime almost to the end to get to that healing place from the hurt left behind. My own mother was in pain too. I am grateful as I’m sure you are that the chain gets broken with you and your children. We do always learn some good things from them. Thank you for sharing your lessons.

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  3. This was a wonderful post. Probably not very easy to do, yet very loving and positive. I enjoyed reading it, and it hits home, so I guess I must be part of your dream reader audience. With my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease, I can definitely empathize with your situation.

    Her expressions about how happy she is to see you and the repetitive pretty blouse compliments remind me of visits with my Mom. Even though she can’t really remember anything, somehow she still knows that she loves me and keeps telling me along with constant hugs and kisses. It’s amazing how strong her love remains.

    She also got me to take Latin in high school (4 years!) because she and her mother did; at least we had a very good teacher who made it interesting, and I think it has helped my vocabulary and language skills.

    My mother also still adores babies and little kids. When I bring my grandkids (ages 6, 9, and 10) to visit her, she just lights up and can’t take her eyes off them. Recently she also likes to hold and hug a baby doll and several stuffed animals such as Grumpy Cat, some cuddly teddy bears, and little bunnies. I guess it’s her mothering instincts and comforting for her.

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    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your words! Thank you for sharing a little about your mom, too. It is so hard to see our parents go through mental illness, seems even worse when the person was highly intelligent, ironic really. Sounds like you get to see your mom often. Cherish that!

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  4. This is a very moving piece, Terri – bravely honest and full of empathy – there were tears in my eyes at this end too on reading it. Mother and daughter relationships are so powerful and yet so complicated and you have got that across here. Thanks – I bet it wasn’t that easy to write.

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  5. This is a great post! LOL…we have some things in common.. I had to take Latin in school too, at my mom’s insistence. It paid off though when I took the SAT’s and scored really high on the verbal. She also made me take French at the same time. I never felt nearly as smart as her. And the dogs…big, hairy. Yup, we had those too. Great post!

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  6. Terri, thanks for stopping by JDB. I had to check out your blog since I’m not familiar with you. I’m so glad I did! What a lovely, tribute to your mother! I agree with other comments – mother daughter relationships can be rocky. My own mother was more interested in finding her next husband than caring for us, but I can look back from here and realize she felt she didn’t have many options and she needed a man. I have 5 daughters, count ’em 5! Most of those relationships are okay. But one in particular is awesome. I know we aren’t supposed to have favorites but sometimes you don’t get a choice.

    Thanks again for visiting. I’ll be back!

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  7. Pingback: Masks Off: The Mother I Could Have Been | Perspectives On....

  8. Moving and honest tribute to your Mum. Funny but it is in family that we are loved the most but also hurt the most. I guess you can only be hurt by those you love .. others do not have that power. I am sure your Mum will be very happy if she knew you had chosen her for your Dream Reader. It shows how strong the bond is .
    And I agree – our best writing is writing from the heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Happy Blogging Anniversary: Why TMI is Not What it Seems | Perspectives On....

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