I do not have a normal relationship with my mother. I have no idea why. She was incapable of showing me affection or softness while I was growing up. So I moved away at seventeen, naively thinking that our relationship was now behind me.
Lots happened in between. I got married, had a daughter. Decided to move back to Japan at 29 with my own family. Tried to give it another go with my mother. We embraced the Japanese traditional way of life and moved into a bigger place and had my mom move in. She is still working and young at heart, so it wasn’t a move to “take care” of her. It was kind of a - “maybe living with her three adorable grandchildren will melt the ice where her heart probably is” move. Too long of a story to go into but it didn’t work. She loves the kids, obviously, but I see through her interaction with them that she really is unable to give that type of love. She is just not maternal in any way. I’m sure she cares, but she just cannot show it. To anyone.
It’s an alien concept to me.
I have a sister who is eight years younger. When my parents split up, she and my mother moved back to Japan together so understandably, they have a different relationship to my mother and me. I try not to take things personally with my mom but it’s hard not to, when day in day out, she seems to show me in another little gesture just how little she thinks of me.
The husband and I were talking last night and he was trying to help me pinpoint what it is that I’d done that had forever left its mark on her mind and heart about me. We figured it out, I think.
When I was five years old, my dad took me to McDonald’s. I remember being happy. He told me that he and my mother didn’t love each other anymore so I’d have to choose who I wanted to live with. I was FIVE so naturally, I started freaking the hell out. I distinctly remember feeling like my world was ending. He panicked at my reaction and shushed me and basically told me to forget about it. So they did, and stayed married for another 12 years or so with lots of bumps along the way. They never showed affection towards each other. It was pretty clear that they were only in it for the kids.
So there it is - I think she still blames me for not letting her out of the marriage. I know this sounds crazy and illogical. But it’s not, this is the way she is.
This is not meant to be a whiney post. My childhood is what it was. Millions of people have had it worse, everyone has their own shit. I am thankful for my past for a lot of reasons. It made me strong and independent. But most of all, I am so thankful for it because it has made it crystal clear, the kind of parent I want to be to my children. No matter what happens, my kids never forget, for a second that I love the hell out of them. It’s embarrassing to them, how much I love them.
This is the biggest gift my mother has given me and my children.
I’m breaking the cycle.