My mom died 13 years ago today.
At the time of her death, I was extremely co-dependent on her. Time heals all wounds, and I can say that she has continued to teach me even though she's gone.
I had an awakening period where I was very angry at her. This started a few years ago and lasted a few years. Mom was very similar (minus the alcohol) to Joan Crawford. I am not over-exaggerating here. My sisters and I sat down and discussed Mommy Dearest one day and we all thought we were reading about our mom. It was not startling to us as it was to the rest of the world, it was normal. I think that book was the turning point when the three of us realized there really was something wrong. I was the golden child so didn't receive her wrath nearly as often as my other siblings. However, in my mid-30s I realized how manipulative she was toward me.
I worked for 11 years in my profession. I had a best friend that I stayed in contact with for a few years after I left to raise Thomas. One day Teri and I were talking on the phone and she informed me that during one of my mom's first visits, a time when I took mom to my job and introduced her to people, mom took Teri aside and told her that I needed to be watched over because I was very immature, naive and didn't know how the world worked. She did this on a mother to mother basis because Teri was about 15 years older than I.
I was absolutely horrified when I learned of that. That was the end of the relationship !!! (Trust is a huge issue with me.) The funny thing is I was extremely mature, responsible and I wasn't naive. I did know how the world worked. I worked with hardened criminals every single day. I worked with lawyers every day.
This little episode is just the tip of the iceberg on how mom was a master manipulator. In respect of her memory, I won't share more.
I am finally at a stage where I'm over my sorrow, my anger and my loss. Now I can look back and see some of the happy memories I had with mom. I can look at the bad things in a new light: She was ill. She did the best she could, she loved the only way she knew how, and she lived her life the best that she could under the circumstances. She had many wonderful qualities and I wish she had had the opportunity for therapy because she could have been so much more.
I now look at it like this: Take her good qualities and run with them. Mom would have put Martha Stewart to shame. She could cook, clean, sew and craft amazingly well. Learn from her mistakes: Type A personality, master manipulator, one of the angriest people I have ever known: Do not repeat.
There's a little voice inside my head that talks to me as I am parenting. It always asks a question: WWMD? (What would mom do?) Sometimes, I go with what mom would do such as teaching about how to clean, organize, teach good work ethic. Usually that little voice crops up when I need to do a 180 and the exact opposite of what mom would have done. It crops up when I need to bite my tongue so that Thomas can learn from mistakes. It crops up when Thomas does typical 10-year-old things that mom would have nearly killed for.
She continues to teach, although she'd be surprised at how those lessons are applied.
Mom, I love you anyway. Live and let live.