Sunday, January 21, 2007

On Mothers and Daughters (Part II)

I have had a strange and emotional weekend. My sisters and I took our mother to London to celebrate her 70th birthday. We left our father at home, on the pretext that it was to be a ‘girly weekend’ but in reality because they are difficult individuals who become intolerable when a pair. So a girly weekend it was, with the brother we were staying with elevated to honorary girly status and his wife in a stoic supporting role.

I rarely see my mother out of her domestic context. The family gathers around her, as she is unsettled when removed from her natural habitat and is an uneasy guest in all our homes. She rules her own home with an iron fist and a viper’s tongue, however, and occasionally I will still flinch if she moves towards me, in honour of an archaic memory. My siblings and I have forged fragile but loyal adult relationships. But with my mother I remain locked in a relational dynamic that is flooded by the past until the present has no room.

She was truly out of context this weekend: a guest in her son’s home, pampered and spoiled by her daughters as we ferried her round ‘that London’. And through the fissures that appeared I was able to see glimpses of the present. I saw a frail old lady, scared of the world and anxious to please. I saw an ageing parent struggling to accept her children’s successes and independence, but bursting with pride at their ease in the world. As we cussed and shouted and laughed ourselves hoarse over dinner, I watched her fade into the background and let her children set the rules of engagement. I saw her through a stranger’s eyes and the past was, for once, in the past.

11 comments:

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Beautiful. A bit painful and sad, but beautiful all the same.

YellowDuck said...

Very moving. I am touched.

MrZhisou said...

It is very strange when such a familiar person is seen as a stranger. You see so much more.

nmj said...

' a dynamic that is flooded by the past until the present has no room '

I love this image, Ms M, it is v powerful.

Caroline said...

I am moved more than I can tell you. Wish I could.
x

Ms Melancholy said...

I am guessing you all have your own versions of this.

Reading the Signs said...

Oh yes - and after reading this I felt driven to find Part 1. Wonderful post(s). In both, you have articulated something for me.

YellowDuck said...

My mother is lovely. But my dad....difficult, difficult.

Atyllah said...

Isn't it remarkable when a parent can be seen through objective eyes and without our baggage.

A remarkable and very special post, Ms M.

Miss Tickle said...

I am actually crying.

x

Ms Melancholy said...

Oh, Miss Tickle. You too must have a troubled mother? Thanks for dropping by.