Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The mama's mama

Well, the holiday is over, my mum returned from her three month overseas trip last Saturday, and of course brought with her all the many and varied issues, problems and resentments that have plagued our relationship for so many years, particularly the last 10 months or so. And to be honest, I enjoyed her time away, almost as much as she did. I enjoyed having more time in my week, without feeling obliged to see her twice a week so she can be close to Indi. I have enjoyed not having to worry about offending her, not having to worry about her silent judgement and criticism of me (and my house and garden!), or her not-so-silent judgements either. I have enjoyed the space in my mind and heart not taken up by worry and hurt. And I especially enjoyed not feeling scrutinised and misunderstood as a new mother, and found that while she was away I was really able to grow and develop and find my groove as a mum, to really get the hang of it all and develop real strength and confidence in my abilities and my choices.

So now she is back, and I have decided to enter into a new phase in my relationship with her. The Buddhist reading I have been doing has enabled me to open my heart, to really see her as a person who is trying her best, whatever the outcomes, whatever the behaviours, and to understand that what I see as her shortcomings are more often than not the result of her own heavy load of pain and hurt that she has accumulated throughout her own difficult life. I have embraced the compassionate heart, and have found an ability to forgive her, and myself, that has eluded me for a long time. I have felt my anger flow away, replaced by a resolve to make things better.

After spending four hours with her yesterday, I came away tired and a little disappointed. It takes so much effort for me to spend time with her, to stop myself from sliding into unhealthy power struggles, to keep dipping into my spiritual well in order to maintain myself, to not let the heaviness bring me down. I guess I was hoping my new-found resolve and a good dose of affection would melt her coldness a little, and that I would inspire within her some sort of change.

But then, after coming home and making dinner and pondering it all while I chopped and stirred, I saw that to expect a change after one meeting was probably pretty naive. I can see that she is hurt and wounded, and that if there is going to be any change at all she is going to have to be made to feel very safe and loved, and this may take quite a while. And also, I realised that in the end, she may never change the way she behaves towards me, and that all I can do is keep holding on to my compassionate heart, to keep stoking the fires of my own joy and understanding, and to keep loving myself no matter how she treats me, no matter how she judges me. Ultimately, my goal is to love her openly, while not caring so much what she thinks of me. I need to be able to do this for myself, and for Indi too. It's important for me that Indi sees a loving strong bond between my own mother and myself, but ultimately, if that can't happen, it's important for me to model to Indi how to stay strong and true to yourself in the face of criticism, and to put yourself on top of the list of people's opinions you should care about.


Sarah said...

Thanks Nalan :) i think this is just what i needed to hear in the face of my own mother visiting in 28 days (but who is counting) for 10 weeks. Ive been saying to DH for a while i "need" to get myself into a good head space for this visit so as to make the most out of it but didn't quite know how to go about it- i think you've put me in the right direction.

take care


Nalin said...

Oh Sarah, that's so good to hear! Glad to be of help in the process of working things out for myself. It's amazing how much we can still be affected by our mothers! I hope your mother's visit goes really well and that you do get a lot out of it.