I’m becoming concerned that I very well may have a bad mother. As I mentioned in a previous post, my mother hung up on me for trying to set boundaries. It seems we’re going on a couple of weeks that I’ve not heard from her. My mother is 76. I’ll be 50 in May. She hung up on me and hasn’t called me since. Do grownups behave this way? Do parents hang up on their adult children when they hear something they don’t like?
Of course I feel guilty. She’s been peddling the guilt my whole life. Spankings were nothing. The guilt I would feel for having disappointed her was crushing. Here I am today, still feeling it. So last week I sent her an email. I asked if she’d given Al-Anon a try. I told her I bet it would help her feel supported in the midst of all she’s dealing with, and it would help her to better relate to my brother, now that he is sober. I told her she will have to treat him differently now that he is sober.
She hit him one day when he came to the office intoxicated. She hit him. A grown man. I explained to her countless times, he wasn’t drinking during the day to piss her off. He was doing it because he couldn’t not do it.
It’s like when my father’s Alzheimer’s got bad and she ridiculed him and got impatient when he couldn’t do things. She acted as if he’d simply chosen not to do them any more. Phone calls were disturbing. He couldn’t quite get the hang of the phone any more. Which button to push for “talk.” She’d insist on yelling at him across the room to push the button that said “talk.” He couldn’t read any more. He didn’t know which button said talk. She’d tell me that he’d wet himself again, with him sitting right there. I’d keep telling her to stop picking on him and talking to him that way, and she just kept at him. She never bothered to educate herself about the disease.
I’m getting side-tracked. So I sent her an email about Al-Anon, very calm, non-confrontational, and I told her she should give it a try. What has she got to lose? It’s free!
She ignored my note. This was Tuesday of last week. I was beginning to wonder how long she was planning to keep me in the deep freeze. She didn’t speak to my sister for three years after she took a new job and left my father’s business. Perhaps it was my turn.
Today I learn from my brother (his first day back at work) that my nephew wrecked my mother’s car over the weekend. He’d driven it to Galveston to take care of some things for her at the beach house, and apparently he’d gotten in a wreck. I was upset to hear this news. So I called her. She didn’t answer her mobile. I left a nice message and told her I was sorry to hear about the car. I know she’d been angry when last we spoke, but I hoped she’d recovered from that and would call me back. She has not.
I haven’t spent a lot of time with my mother since I moved over 150 miles away 13 years ago. Her focus was on my brothers, trying to save them from themselves, and later on my father. In truth, I’ve never spent much time thinking about the kind of woman she is. Her character. But as I begin to collect memories, rake through the coals, it’s occurring to me, she’s a shitty mother. And quite possibly a shitty person.