Friday, June 13, 2014

We're Better Off Not Knowing ...

Someone much smarter than me once said, "Let sleeping dogs lie."  How very wise that person was ...

Stoney, mom, and I went to dinner tonight.  We got to talking about a picture on Mom's digital frame.  It's of me as a child with all my Christmas presents when I was around four.  I'd apparently got it into my head to haul them all over to my grandma's house to show her.  I packed my toy suitcases and everything.  

Anyhow, I was telling Mom that the photo on her frame was cropped.  There is a toy Coca-Cola dispenser on the couch that isn't in the photo ... she didn't believe me.  So, I came back to the house and dug through everything ... piles and piles of clippings and photos ... looking for that one photo. 

I found it ... but I also found a letter.

It was a three page handwritten letter my Mom wrote (but obviously never sent) to her mother in August of 1970.  I wish I'd never found it.

It was folded into a square and tucked behind a picture frame.  I don't know why I saw it this time ... I've looked through these pictures a hundred times.  Why did that cheap little plastic frame come apart tonight?  I don't know ... but it did ... and the papers fell out.

Three pages of small, neat cursive ... written by a woman who was miserable.   Written by a woman who wanted to leave her husband ... who wanted to move back to Illinois ... who said she wished she hadn't had a second child.

I'm speechless ... I really am.  I can't be mad at her ... how can anyone be mad at someone who was  hurting so much ... who was so genuinely miserable.   I was a sick baby ... and needy apparently ... although I'm not sure how many babies aren't  needy.   She was taking "nerve pills" just to tolerate me.  How horrible to read that.

I don't know what to do.  Do I tell her about it?  I want to take it to her ... to show it to her ... let her read it ... apologize to her for being a terrible baby.  But ... wouldn't that just hurt her all over again? Wouldn't it just make her feel guilty for something she really felt?

She didn't send it.  Maybe she wrote it in a moment of weakness?  Maybe she was at her lowest ... with a sick baby and a ten year old and a husband in the Marines who was gone all the time?  She sounds angry and frustrated and sad.  Meanwhile ... I'm lost.  I just don't know what to do.

I guess we all romanticize our childhoods.  Well, I know the girls don't ... they talk about remembering hearing my ex-husband and their mom fighting.   But I don't remember anything like that ... I don't remember much of anything of my childhood, if I'm being honest ... but I don't remember life being anything like this letter.

I've always wondered why I felt like Mom loved my brother more than me ... guess I know now it wasn't in my head ... she did ... and she always felt that way.  

More things to think about ... to slog through.  I know one thing ... the fortune cookie was wrong tonight ... turns out I'm not the lucky one.

1 comment:

  1. She didn't send that letter, which can mean a million things you can't even begin to assume fairly. You're looking at one tiny little pixel in a very large picture; Even your conclusion that "...and she always felt that way" is horribly unfair. The fact that she felt that way at that one moment in no way implies that she always felt that way.

    Five years later, perhaps a letter she did mail said something like, "I can tell she and I will always have some issues, but how wrong I was to think, just a little while ago, that my life was anything but blessed by my second child."

    Or maybe not. My point is that you have no way of knowing. I don't blame you for feeling hurt, but your real takeaway should be that first thing you wrote: she was hurting so much, and you got a little glimpse of one very real moment a very long time ago. You understand your mother a little, little bit more than you did a day ago. That's kind of a neat, rare thing.

    I can't tell you what to do, but here's one vote for "don't tell her you know about this," at least not yet. There may come a moment where it might seem like a good idea to bring it up, but she has it hidden away for a reason.

    Hang in there. I'm not a huggy person at all, but I'd give you a hug now if I were anywhere in your vicinity. That's a tough thing to experience.