Mom Doesn’t Play By My Rules

I’ve been trying to write about my mom for a long time. I start and I can’t finish. I just don’t know what to say.

It’s just that I don’t understand. Writing is usually a way to help me understand – myself, other people, the world – but it doesn’t matter how I spin it, what I write, I just can’t understand my mother. I can’t put myself in her shoes, I can’t move past the things that have happened, I can’t find a resolution.

I had sort of a lightbulb moment this afternoon while I was loading the dishwasher (oh the stereotype).

Yesterday a friend stopped by for a quick visit. She struggles, as I do, with mood and depression. She’s wonderful for a lot of reasons – a great mom who parents the same way I do, a person with passions and interests and intellect – but I think one of my favorite things about her is the way in which she’s able to be frank with me about her depression – how it’s affecting her and what she’s doing to combat it. Frank but not overly serious, an admission and not a confession. It’s refreshing to see that sort of matter-of-factness in someone else.

While we talked about things, depression mostly given we’re both having a bit of a struggle right now, she said, “You know, I have kids. I mean, sure, I would like to lay in bed for the day, weeks, hell, months! But I have kids so, you know… I might say to myself that I don’t like my life right now but that doesn’t mean I would take it away from anyone else, from them!”

And I did know. I totally got it. Because I have a kid, too. And I wouldn’t take me away from her for anything in the entire world. When addiction calls my name and demands center stage, I fight whatever fight I have to in order to say no to that beast. Because I have a kid. When itchy feet and wanderlust and something-has-to-change-or-oh-god-it-will-always-be-the-same mania hits, I sit still. If need be, I find someone to hold on to. Because I have a kid. And, yes, when depression wants to mire me to the couch, to the bed, to thoughts darker than that… I do what I have to do to get by, because I have a kid. And I would never, ever, take me away from her.

And I thought, while loading the dishwasher this afternoon, how wonderful to hear someone else say that; how wonderful to know that someone else understood and agreed and fought their own probably very hard fight to be an awesome mom every single day. Because she has kids.

And I realized then that I will never understand my mother. I might never know what to say. Because I would never, ever, in a million years, choose something – anything! – over my daughter. I would never choose another person before her. And I would never, ever, take me from her or let her take herself from me.

My mother doesn’t play by those rules.

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