Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mum

It was Drummer boy’s last exam today…maths in the morning and then English. He had taken the precaution of bringing a bottle of beer with him to the exam, in order to celebrate afterwards, and, in the car at 7 am this morning, he confided his worries that it might clink on the stone floor when he put his bag down. I tried to imagine the same conversation with my own mother when I was his age on my way to my A levels, and failed absolutely. Will there ever be another generation where the change was as radical between parents and children as happened between the fifties and the sixties?

It would have been my mother’s 86th birthday on the 24th of June. She had me late in her life (for those days), at the age of 31. She suffered from post natal depression afterwards, from what I can gather. She was bi-polar, like me. I went through the usual teenage angst, felt undervalued, undervalued her, rejected her and was rejected, and confused the order in which these things happened. On reflection, I was an appalling, wild and inconsiderate rebel. A quick brain, like hers, but educated, unlike her and thanks to her. I went to university, unusual for those in my social class at that time.

In my late twenties we met as polite strangers and slowly rebuilt something, but there was always a distance that I didn’t understand. It was only just before she died that I realised how much she did love me and how much I regretted not knowing her better. Can we ever really know our parents?

Here she is…

15 comments:

Rosie said...

I dont know how she has done it, but where ever you click on the text, it links to a blow up of her photo...that's my girl.

Zhoen said...

Not between my mom and me, but I know others who can, and do, with great relish. I surrender to the phenomenon, uncomprehending.

Ms Mac said...

Mothers are mostly wonderful. But I think it takes a lot of growing up from children to appreciate that. And I've heard that a person is never fully matured as an adult until they have lost both of their parents. I hope I don't have to have lost mine before I fully understand just how awesome they are.

That is a beautiful portrait of your mother. So very elegant.

Rosie said...

zhoen- I think that our lack of communication was to do with the era..and maybe we were always on a different stair of the bipolar ladder.
Mrs Mac- yes everything changes when they die and you are the most grown up person around...or supposed to be. We did become closer as she became elderly and delightfully eccentric...I hope I take after her in that...

Rosie said...

blogger is not working and sending me emails about comments so this is a test. Apologies to those who have left comments deep in the bowels of former posts...As it stands, I will never know...

Mrs. Chili said...

"Can we ever really know our parents?"

That depends on what you mean by "know." I think a lot of it has to do with how well parents and children can make the transition between parent-child relationships and parent-ADULT child relationships. Most people never figure it out, but it's worth a bit of effort, I think.

Sara Sue said...

What a lovely post, so touching and sad.

amy said...

mrs chili is so right, that transition from parent/child to parent/adult is not easy! I imagine your attempt to get to know your mother meant the world to her.

Lucy said...

Much that is recognisable here. I regret my snotty unkindness to both my parents because I was better educated then them entirely because of them. I think that's one of my worst sources of guilt in fact.

Also though I think we suffer on their account a lot; I still resent a bit somewhere that her drama always eclipsed my own...

Sorry I missed this earlier, the feed was slow.

Rosie said...

hello and welcome sara sue.
Mrs C and Amy, I dont think we ever quite crossed that adult/child bridge.I dont know why, but I found it impossible to behave as an adult while she was still alive. Whether that was a fault in me or her I do not know...both probably!
Lucy, there was definitely an element of " you wont understand me because I am cleverer and more complex than you", which makes me feel ashamed in retrospect.

leslie said...

What a profound thought that we might know our parents well. I think there is always that "line" that keeps us from confiding in each other as we would with a friend. But my mother was of that same generation as yours and she and I were close. She told me a lot about her life as a child, growing up, and being married to my father. My father never confided at all about his past but we knew from our mother what it was like. That helped us to understand his "ways" and to tolerate his attempts to control us. Last summer, in the care home and just a few months before his death, we were sitting on the patio and watching the planes fly over. He'd been in the RCAF in WWII. Then he suddenly started telling me about how wonderful it was to fly and about some of the antics he and his buddies would do in the clouds, etc. It really wasn't until the year waiting for his last breath that I felt I got to "know" him as a person.

Dr.John said...

I'm glad you got to know she loved you.

Marianne said...

This is very well put - and very recognisable, even in easier eras with less differences between the generations I think the mother-daughter relationship is a fraught one. Maybe we understand our parents more as we reach the age they were when they had us, and so on as we have our own children.

Rosie said...

Marianne, as I follow in my mother's footsteps with my own children I understand more and more what she did for me.

Rosie said...

Leslie, perhaps it was to do with personality as well. Now I think about it my mother and I were very similar in lots of ways, but I feel that I never really knew her and what motivated her.My Dad neither. It must have been good to have one parent that confided in you...
Dr john- You have hit the nail on the head.Love is all that matters in the end...