Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I always wanted a Daughter

I've written often of the challenges of being my mother's daughter. In my last post I briefly described growing my in Ar with a mentally ill mother. Understand, my mother spent most of her life in bed or at work. There was no middle ground. Escaping your daughter that way makes her feel terribly not wanted.

My mother's messages were very negative while I was growing up. When I was about 22, things changed. My mother's mental illness had worsened. Her voices had become extreme and she was living an alternate reality. Everyone could see her deterioration. Her few friends, my dad, the staff where she taught and, sadly, the students. One Tuesday morning I showed up at the high school, picked my mother up, and took her to the doctor. A few hours later she had a padded room. A few weeks after that she turned in her drivers license and teaching certificate. She applied for retirement and disability.

The transformation was remarkable. I'll never know what it took for her to get up every morning and face her voices and paranoia while she went through the motions of teaching. It must have been a living hell. Every summer she had to go before the school board to protect her job. They never had the grounds to fire her, but they knew there was a problem. Then she bore the shame of everyone knowing she went before the school board again. It's not paranoia when they are really out to get you.

My mother had been removed from a regular teaching program and was working with "special needs" students. Some were bored in regular classrooms and needed more challenges and she was good with them. The other end of the spectrum made her problems worse.

After the breakdown, it was as if the evil mother died, and a gentler, kinder woman took up residence. She's always happy when I call. She welcomes my infrequent visits. Sadly, my mother's extremely fragile these days. She tires quickly. The skin around her eyes is thin, papery. Her eyes don't have the clarity and focus my dad, seven years older, has.  Dad thinks she has Alzheimer's. But yesterday she took me by surprise. I had commented on how tired she looked, and she acknowledged it, but said she didn't get to see me enough and it was worth the fatigue. And then she said, "I always wanted a daughter."

I don't know what happened to that woman who didn't want me. But I cried when my mom told me, for the first time in my life, I was wanted.

1 comment:

  1. A special moment, to be treasured! I'm happy for you and your Mom too, that you were able to share that bonding.