It's hard to join the two halves of my personality when it comes to my mother, I loved her and admired her, but I find myself also feeling like she was so cold, sometimes borderline cruel. My father told me that she rarely told him she loved him. And I remembered that he was right, she rarely told us she loved us. Not without being prompted. And even then it was more over the last few years. It wasn't until a few years ago that she would end her conversation with "I love you," and even then it was because I had said it first.
When she was in her final days she was convinced she had been a horrible mother. She was saying it over and over. And I kept telling her she was a good mother and told her about the good memories- the home made play-doh, the water fights in summer, the fact that she wasn't overbearing and that she had let us be us, but a small part of me wanted to point out to her that she had not been a perfect mother. She rarely praised us, she never told us how she felt about us, other people told us she was proud of us but she didn't. But what purpose would it serve to kick a dying woman while she is already down? It would have served no purpose to make her feel worse in her final days. But it left me with so many things left unsaid. Things that should have been said years ago but never were because I just didn't know what to say.
And those things you always promised you would tell her before she died, but while she was dying you didn't want to say it because you fear it will be admitting she is dying. In the end, I never said much, just kept telling her I loved her. Because I did. I do. Flawed though she was, she was my mother. It's not as if we were perfect children. We hated each other, fought constantly, we truly just seemed to live to just be evil to each other. And she had to live with the constant fighting and our refusal to ever like each other, or reconcile with each other. We are all three past the age where this is just sibling rivalry.
And in the middle sat my mother, wanting a family like you see on tv, the kids who at the end of the day will always love each other, a husband who is able to juggle work and life deftly and seamlessly, and a bit more money in the bank than they ever had. And there she sat with three children who truly hated each other, a husband never home always at work, and a bank account just barely in the black most years. She did the best she could. It's all I have to comfort myself with. She tried. She wanted us, she loved us, she just didn't know the best way to show it. I guess that's how I make those two personalities collide- by accepting that we are all not perfect and she did the best she knew how.