Sunday, May 10, 2020

mothers and the worry monster

Today is another Mother's Day. There is probably nothing more to be said from me I haven't said already on losing mothers, and I've written a lot about it already, but I tend to vascillate these days between wishing my mother was around to help me navigate this strange time and at the same time, incredibly thankful she is not.  It's a complicated feeling, and I don't dare say it aloud (though I guess this blog is exactly doing that--saying it out loud--but there's safety in never knowing if there's an audience. )

On one hand, when she was alive, I felt a lot more stable and a lot less lonely.  I've talked before about different kinds of lonely, and I'm not sure what difference in this time her presence would take, but even just an extra touch point, and extra ear, would be helpful to anyone no doubt. I still talk to my Dad on the regular, and those are different sorts of conversations that I'm glad I get to have (my mom historically tended to be the sole fielder of those calls home.)  For years, she was the go-between, and now it's direct conversations.   I imagine what she would think of all this happening had she lived. How crazy it would have seemed to her. She'd not doubt be just as angry at Trump, and sad that basketball season had been canceled.  But much like me, her and my dad were mostly hermits and would have appreciated this time to sit on the deck and work in the yard with no social engagements to interrupt them (even though my mother was more extroverted than the rest of us, she'd have managed as long as someone else were around to interract with.).

On the other hand, if you've ever admonished me for being a worrier, my response is usually "have you met my mother?" Hers was an obsessive kind of worry-always--and worse later in life. I feel sometimes that while yes, her heart problems and the infection were what killed her--worry was helping all along.  That said, right now, if she were alive, she would be at tremendous risk. not just as someone whose compromised by age and health conditions, but how she would be a ball of anxiety and fearful for everyone--not just me and my sister or my dad, but the whole extended family and her friends. This would make her more compromised, of course, the stress of that.  I worry about my dad, of course,  because of his age (78), but he's actually pretty healthy and mobile, with some healthy long-life genetics on my grandfather's side. And enviably calmer compared to the rest of us. But my mom would be a whole other thing, especially with her health problems the last year or so.

I sometimes think, had things gone a different way, had the doctors not botched it royally when they didn't stop or detect the infection til too late, had she not ended up hospitalized and in the nursing home. she might still be here, but she'd sill have heart problems that wouldn't get better with age.   But then I also think if she had not been having such a rough couple years up til the heart attack in terms of extended family drama, she might have had a better, healthier heart.  But there is no way of knowing if that is true. One of the complicated feelings I wrestled with  wen she died was this incredible relief that nothing bad could happen to her anymore.  Nothing could go wrong anymore, when things just kept going wrong in that last year. As such, she's one less person I have to worry about in this world right now.  But then again, that makes me feel sad and complicated as well.

There have been many moments in the past two months when I was again thankful about not having my own children. About the choices I've made.  Not just the more practical reasons of wanting time for myself, now more than ever, when I see other's struggling with work and homeschooling and children that really don't want to be inside and are going stir-crazy.  That would be another life, of course, but I'm not sure I'd be as content in it as I am in my current one.  Those desires could probably be called selfish by some , and maybe they are, but it's a kind of selfish I think is okay.  Women shouldn't have to not be selfish if they don't want to (and men don't feel that sort of pressure at all, nor are they burdened with as much of the child-rearing.) But also, the whole other thing-- the worry of having children in this world, whether they're locked in the house, or worse out in the world.  How I'm not sure my heart could handle that sort of strain, so endless hats off to all the mother's who manage it without their hearts utterly breaking in half.

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