Dear Readers - The following presents a window on the need for understanding and emotional support within families:
Reader – “I’m a 40-year-old woman, wife and mother. I’m also the daughter of a 70-year-old mother with whom I had many difficulties while growing up.
“My father kept saying back then, that she was “depressed.” A word that held no meaning for me.
“She’d join me at breakfast and just sit there, watching but silent. She only brightened when Dad returned home for dinner.
“Why didn’t she love her only child, as much as him?
“I only saw her laugh when they were together. I couldn’t wait to marry and have kids of my own. I’d be a far better and loving mom, I vowed. My three children had a ready listener, teacher and playmate in me.
“But I got caught in the “sandwich generation” when my adolescent/teen kids immersed themselves in their friendships, and my mother also retreated... toward Alzheimer’s.
“My father said there was nothing we could do. He died a couple years later, creating a deeper chasm between my mother and me. I was busy working, studying, managing a home, socializing. My mother was just sitting, silent. I was losing her.
“So, I talked to her cousin whom I’d hardly known, and read the history my mother had lived through. She was the child of immigrants who’d faced constant danger and death threats. They raised her to be afraid, take no chances, trust no one.
“Born here, in a free country, she grew to a beautiful young woman and married the one person she ever fully trusted and loved.
“But motherhood raised fears of what could happen to her naïve daughter.
“I finally understand that her mental-health issues (which are often dismissed as “just depression”), couldn’t handle the open ways of raising kids today that we call “mothering.”
“By retreating, she avoided the reality that I might be harmed.
“This insight is my Christmas present to me. Mom died several years ago. From her, I’d learned that “family” has many meanings, and even the closest of relatives have their own private stories.
“Knowing my mother’s story and her mental health illness, has helped me understand my past and be grateful for my present.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the brothers (26 and 24 who lived together in a home they invested in together (December 2):
“I had a similar situation. No matter how often I asked, and he agreed, he did nothing or made it worse: If all the pots were dirty, he’d wait until I cleaned them before cooking for himself... up to three weeks!
“The trash wasn’t recycle-sorted. So, it’d sit on the lawn for weeks. Once it was left by the waste pickup on the driveway and he just kept driving over it.
“We both owned the house, but he’d never agree to sell.
“So, I put a small refrigerator and hot plate in my room, bought my own groceries and cooked my own food. Washed what I used and put dishes back in my room.
“After several weeks he had no food or any clean dishes. I left his in the sink. He didn’t care.
“Anytime something dirty came into the main section of the house I bagged it and threw it in his room. Every few months he’d clean up and apologize. But the cycle just repeated.
“I eventually got a job which required me to relocate. I see him regularly but never at my new home.”
FEEDBACK Regarding peanut allergy:
“I’ve lived with non-life-threatening food allergies for 40 years. My concern with “nut-free” spaces is that the person or child with allergies cannot assume these spaces are safe.
“While my family and friends are careful to accommodate my allergies, they just cannot be as careful as I am e.g., my mother had a tasty vegetable dip made from a mix. But when I looked at the ingredients, I saw an allergen that she’d missed.
“If my mother and I, both educated in English can’t get my allergies right, I can’t believe that others, even well-meaning, can get someone else’s allergies right. the most nut-aware location must not be assumed to be safe.
“Here’s a list of ingredients to avoid if allergic to peanuts, some of which I’d never heard of before.
Ellie - Create your own “Avoid” list of any new/uncertain ingredients and check with your doctor.
Tip of the day:
A mother’s distanced behaviour may reflect her past history and present mental-health issues.