For TueNight.com by Susan Linney
(Photo credit: Andy Kropa)
Although I'm not a mother myself (I am, however, a proud new aunt!), I imagine that most moms welcome it when their kids cry on their shoulders, or come to them for some TLC when feeling flu-y, or call them when worried about a new job, or have been beaten by a broken heart.
And of course there are the happy occasions, as well -- the birthday parties, graduation parties, celebrations of first jobs, and a feeling (I imagine) of absolute pride when watching the now-adult child she raised to be polite, poised, successful and fun.
But what I suspect a great many moms may not know about are the moments that seem similar to the ones above, but are a bit... off. A sob-filled phone call that doesn't make very much sense, and comes from a voice that doesn't 100 percent sound like that of your child's.
A plea for a visit to your daughter's apartment to help her get over a sudden bought of the flu, which seems completely legit at first, but then doesn't quite add up when the patient, while certainly showing signs of the sickness (i.e. hungover-induced vomiting) is also mumbling The Exorcist-like words when asleep, or bursting out into full-blown hysterics while awake.
Or perhaps the worst: Seeing your bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed daughter arrive at brunch, only to slowly transform into someone loud, obnoxious, sullen and sad by the time the bloody-mary-filled event is over. She's mean, and she doesn't seem to care about you like she did when first she came bounding to the table, all smiles and hugs.
My mom has dealt with all of the above and worse, I'm sure (I was a blackout drinker, so there's much I don't remember). And I can't imagine what that was like for her. Growing up, she was always my rock, and she's still my rock now. And during the eight-plus years of those up-and-down, back-and-forth attempts to get sober (the true nature of which were mostly hidden from her), she remained my rock -- loving me, helping me and most importantly, not judging me.
Of course to some degree she was enabling, there's no denying that fact. But she didn't do so on purpose. Alcoholics are sneaky little shits, and it's easy to fail prey to the tricks we play to get what we want and what we believe we need. Especially if you are a mother, and all you want to do is love, nurture and protect your children. My mom was just fulfilling the needs she always fulfilled for her child -- the problem was that this time, those needs were all lies.
So thank you, Mom, for still being here now, and for finally "detaching with love" when it became clear that this disease was on its way to destroying the best in both of us.
Because even though my mom finally joined the consensus and pushed me to get help, she NEVER let go of my hand. She never pushed me away. She held me and told me it would be all right, and that no matter what, she'd always be there (whether I believed her or not).
And guess what? She was right.
TueNight is a weekly online publication for women to share where they've been and explore where they want to go next. We are you, part two. www.tuenight.com
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.