February 3, 2001

February 3rd

With a half hour left, I'll try to write about February 3rd.

It's my father's birthday. He's 85.

This time last year, if I thought about it at all, I must have doubted that he'd make it this far. He went through an incredible amount of pain and struggling (due to illness and surgery) to get where he is today, and I hope it was worth it for him.

We'll probably celebrate next week, at a favourite restaurant.

Why not today?

Dad has a cold..
The kids were busy..
I didn't get my act together in time..

The real reason is, February 3rd is also the day my mother died, nineteen years ago.

Despite how I felt and feel about her, I still can't bring myself to celebrate anything else on that day.

I feel bad for her in a way.. her only child still actively resents her almost two decades after her death; she barely even got to hold her first grandchild before she was hospitalized; her beloved husband is happily remarried; life went on.

Yes she brought it on herself, all of it, but not out of any evil. She was a good person who did harm to herself and others by not knowing any better, and not opening her mind to any new ideas - particularly the ones that would have shown her the error of her ways.

I feel guilty for not having mourned her as much as I mourned (and still mourn) the absence of an emotionally nurturing mother.

She loved me of course.. she did everything she was supposed to do and more. She read to me, she helped with homework, she took care of me when I was sick, she tried to instill culture and manners into me; but she had no clue about who I was and what I needed. I don't think she even considered the emotional aspects of child-rearing - the physical ones always had priority - more than that, they were the only aspects for her.
She taught me how to behave but she didn't teach me how to be.

It's time I got over it. Other people had worse childhoods, worse upbringings. I didn't repeat her mistakes - I'm a better mother than she was. My kids are turning out better than I did, and that gives me enormous satisfaction. Of course I made new mistakes but I hope they weren't as far-reaching in my kids' lives as hers were in mine.

By now it's well into February 4. I'm looking for a way to end this on a positive note, not for myself but for anyone who might be reading. I guess the most positive thing is that I'm finally thinking about (and dealing with?) this, undeal-able though it might be. Much easier to stuff it away and pretend it's not there, but if I could do that it wouldn't have shown up in these entries now. I don't know how it is to read about (and I wouldn't blame anyone for bailing long before they got to this point) but it does seem to be therapeutic to write about, and in some perverse way, to post for the world to see.

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