Tag Archives: parents

Statute of Limitations

images-9I’ve just read Nuala O’Faolin’s “Almost There”, a book of the second half of her life, after the success of part one of her memoir. I love her writing and she makes me want to go live in Ireland forever, but in this book, I found myself irritated by her perspective.

She spent the book blaming her mother for being absent with depression and alcoholism, and her father for not being there. Really? REALLY? I mean, in this book she’s in her 60’s!! Can you honestly go through your entire adult life blaming your parents? Surely you must have contributed something to your general state of misery yourself by age 60 – heck, 40 even! Blaming your parents in late middle age is kind of ridiculous unless you’ve been living with them your entire life. parents-to-blame

I had differences with my parents, especially my mum, but I can’t hold things against her anymore. I certainly don’t blame her for me being single and a bit odd and perhaps a bit messed up. Nope, that’s all down to me. I figure at this stage I should take responsibility for myself, thanks. Hardly fair to blame a woman who is now gone for 25 years.

It’s a bit like chewing over marriage/relationship issues endlessly. Your marriage ends, you work out the hateful details, and then, by golly, you should let it go. Even if the guy/gal treated you horribly, holding onto anger just leaves you trapped. Sure, there are things to work out, like why you let them treat you that way, and how you can prevent it in the future, but there’s no point in blaming them for this work.

Everyone contributes to their own growth or lack of same, to some extent. I know women get trapped in abusive relationships, and I am sad for them. But when they pull themselves out of the toxic scene, they need to let go of it, move to making themselves whole again, instead of endlessly rehashing the situation.



Still, she makes a good point…

I know I had to do this. When I left my lonely marriage, I wrote all of the reasons I was angry on a piece of paper and burned it. When my ex kept demanding to know why I was leaving, I couldn’t remember – I’d burned my memories. I didn’t want to live with them anymore. Fortunately, I had journals or I might have reconsidered – but my review of those at one point reminded me of the little cruelties we’d visited upon one another until the desire to live together was gone. For me, anyway. (Some of the love remains, and always will.)

There should be a statute of limitations on blaming people for unhappiness. Eventually, it isn’t fair. And there’s a need to get on with life, find the things that make your life better, ditch the sulkies over being treated badly. And go live a little! As for me, I’m letting go of the anger I feel over a child’s betrayal. He’s made his choice. Time for me to move on.

After all, as George Hebert said, “Living well is the best revenge.”


What do YOU love?


What Bertie dreams of doing with Dora…

It’s one of those “Whiskers on kittens” days, when I am thinking of my favourite things. I’m watching my parrotlets unsuccessfully try to cuddle (my girl, Dora, hates the boy, Bertie, but he likes her and has a twinkle in his eye and an urge to pursue. No wonder she’s plucking her feathers), and thinking about how much I love these little feisty birds.

I have my ukulele lesson today, and I smile whenever I think of my silly uke and how happy it makes me.

We all shower affection on animate and inanimate things, to a greater or lesser degree. Friends, pets, lovers, chocolate, wine, scotch, exercise, books, music, cool computer things, wind, clouds, sunsets, snow, crafts, religions, even special pencils.

We say, “ooh, I love those shoes!” or “Wow, I love a good steak!” with the same sort of enthusiasm (or more, alas) as we say “I love you!”.


So then we wonder, if love is so easy to buy, why is it so difficult to maintain? Well, except for in pets. And children. And Elvis with a ukulele…

Or maybe it’s the ease of buying things we love that makes it hard to try to keep them. Maybe, instead of maintaining love, we just trade it in for the newer, fresher model.

I hate buying things. I’m always balancing what I want with my money and what that money COULD represent: travel; chocolate bars; good scotch; even more books. So instead I rearrange things, remodel them, paint them, wear them out. Right now I’m wearing a 10 year old sweatshirt, with cuffs worn through. It’s too big for me, the arms bunch up, but it’s one of my usual things to wear. I love its comfort.

I sit on furniture my parents used. I love the style, contemporary and smooth, walnut and teak. Occasionally I wish for something new to look at – after all, I’ve seen these chairs and tables every day for 40 of my fifty years. But I love them, and the tie to my parents, who passed away years and years ago.Image

So, what do you love? And why? And would you trade it in? What makes you continue to love it?

Mothers and daughters and mothers and daughters on and on and on

ImageSo here comes another Mother’s Day, and with it the maelstrom of feelings that are associated with this Hallmarky “holiday”. I have a hate-hate relationship with Mother’s Day. When I was a kid, it was a day when I would try to connect with my mother, unsuccessfully. I always did something minimal for Mother’s Day – as an unemployed poor person for most of my mother-daughter relationship, I resorted to “Spritual Bouquets” (home made cards offering prayers for the person) or something equally forgettable. I don’t remember Mother’s Day particularly well. I suppose we went out to eat. Or something. It all seemed rather bleah.

And then I became a Mother. And after nights and nights of solo parenting while my ex was working or deployed or otherwise occupado, he never did a thing for me for Mother’s Day. “You’re not my mother,” he’d say. Yeah, true. But I’d organize the kids to do something for him for Father’s Day or do something special. Instead I reminded him to call HIS mother. It hurt, a lot. I wanted praise for a job well done, or at least a recognition that my mothering of the kids made life easier for him to father them. But maybe it didn’t. Mothers days passed. I didn’t really care.

Then my mother, ever the competitive one, superseded my father’s glorious passing on Christmas Eve to die on Mother’s Day. It was a blatant attempt to win in the sympathy contest. It worked. So Mother’s Day became even more rife.

I used to be proud of my parenting. I stayed at home for a few years (we were lucky enough to do this), and I thought I’d done a good job. In amongst the child rearing, while my mum was still around, I fought her influence on me. We were never close, and this I regret. As I’ve said elsewhere, Karma sucks, and now the pride I took in parenting is shadowed by the ongoing break existing between my daughter and I.  It’s still deep and dark and murky and I can’t see a way past it. I dread coming to the realization that I may never see her again. And that this may be what she wants. Yowza.

I sense my mother had her difficulties with her mother, too. She was one of the youngest of a large clan and her mother was ferocious. I imagine little foolishness was tolerated. My mum moved away from her mother and stayed away. We saw her mother now and again, but I didn’t get the feeling that they were bosom buddies or anything. Our family never said they loved each other – I’m sure my mother’s family would have thought that was just a terribly odd thing to say.

Maybe that’s the way daughters and mothers exist, but I am not sure about that. Today I saw a mother and daughter out for lunch together, laughing and enjoying being together, and my heart broke – for the lost opportunities with my mum, now long gone, for the years passing away from my daughter.

This Mother’s Day is also my daughter’s birthday. Plus it will be about 5 years since we’ve talked. Have I mentioned my hate-hate relationship with the day? So this Mother’s Day, I get to relive my mother and my daughter, my cold and now lost marriage, and all that crap. I suspect I’ll have to hit the beach and throw some rocks.

On the good side, I have two lovely sons. Thank god. And a friend who knows how important it is to get some positive stroking on this sharp, painful day. I love them all dearly.

So, all the rest of you – go talk to your mothers. Yeah, they’re insufferably boring and intrude into your life and say things that hurt and mess with your head. They probably wear horrible clothes and are shockingly clued out. But trust me, even if you think you hate them, you’re gonna miss them when they’re gone. See them while you can.

Miss you, mum. Hope you are somewhere beautiful. Love you.


My parents passed away over 19 years ago.  It’s so hard to imagine a life with them, and yet, I can still hear their voices and still think of little things, like the delight my dad would have had in the small computer devices we have these days (he worked on some of the first ones) and the pleasure both of my parents would have had in my children, all three of whom are interesting, wondrous individuals who I wish could have met my folks. My dad was gone before the first was born, and my mom a year after the last was born.  They have few memories of them, and I’m sure my daughter’s memories of my mother are tinged by seeing her in the last stages of cancer.

I’ve been lucky, though, in that my ex’s parents were there to get to know the kids, to provide that grandparental experience that I didn’t really have, either, to be delighted with them even when they were horrid. Well, most of the time when they were horrid….

I remember having them babysit while we were in a hotel and my son screaming, and them putting him out in the hallway, no doubt wishing for an abduction…I remember being told that I was the reason for their toddler sicknesses because of my sloppy house. I remember, unfortunately, some of the hurtful things in amongst the good.  It’s too bad, because, since my parents were gone, all I tell the kids about are the good things. I figure that since they will never know them, it probably isn’t necessary to dwell on their little issues. But they’ve seen their other grandparents, and love them and get cross with them as you do in any relationship.

My ex-mum-in-law is being remembered tomorrow, some three months after her death.  She’s not having a funeral as she donated her body to science in a final act of generosity. I’m digging through memories, trying to think of something to say at the event, some snippet that captures my love and complex feelings about this second mother of mine. I was always much closer to her than I was to my father-in-law, not that I don’t love him also, but she and I would talk about sewing and cooking and parenting and writing and painting and the parts of the world that we were both involved in.  She was much better at everything than I was, but I never felt belittled or looked down upon. We’d laugh together at our respective less-than-successes and cheer each other’s wins. She was fabulous.

I remember:

– renting a cottage for the first time in our lives.  She came up to visit and, at 80+, lay on the dock and caught fish with her bare hands.

–  Dragging herself, with a broken leg, down the block to her house. Strong strong woman. I would have given up and frozen to death.

– Coming to my house for every birth and being so helpful I felt positively inadequate.  I’d sip a cup of tea, and the cup would be washed and put away before I had time to swallow.

– Driving with her in the snow swept Prairie and hearing her panic as the road disappeared in the drifting snow – and yet she trusted me to drive.

– Conversations in the evening after the kids were off to bed and while ex was away, and the secret we shared.

– When my daughter was born, she knitted up a storm, all in a peach coloured yarn. She’d make these exquisite sweaters and mail them to me, with a tiny torn piece of paper on which she’d written “I don’t know how these will wash – they are made of 100% unknown fibres”.  They washed like magic.  I passed them on to other mothers and I imagine they are still circulating now, well constructed and indestructible.

– Potato cake and Pavlova, two things that will always remind me of her. Potato cake – solid and nutmeggy and hearty and sometimes with raisins except for when she learned the kids didn’t like raisins. Delicious and almost as indestructible as the sweaters, except they were so tasty we had to eat them. Pavlova – light and fluffy or flat and sugary, depending on the weather, covered with kiwis (a fruit she introduced me to, and one which remains a favorite) and strawberries. I remember her talking about how huge Pavlovas made with duck eggs were until her daughter told her, “Well, mum, the eggs were bigger!”

– The expression on her face when I inadvertently mentioned the truth of  the Burma-lean bread.  Honestly, dear ex – I thought she knew….but it was a secret kept for 40 years and she was shocked. Suddenly her perfect son was somehow imperfect and it threw her for a loop. It was hilarious.

Even now I feel tears and smiles at the thought of her.

Cheers, dear one.  I hope they are keeping you busy in heaven. I know how you like to feel useful. If you only knew how much you were.