Last week I attended Joanne Fedler’s launch of her new book The Reunion; the follow up to her successful Secret Mother’s Business. The Reunion addresses mothers identities as their children grow into teenagers and aren’t as dependent as they once were.

During her speech at the launch Joanne said that it’s not that only that we are of age that our children might not need us as much, but we are probably of age where our own mothers have either passed away or, let’s face it, we heading into those ‘well you’ve reached life expectancy, so every year is a bonus’ phases.

I don’t have teenage kids but my mother is 76 years old. I’m 38.  She is exactly twice my age.

Heavy Traffic Approaching Rookwood Cemetery
Heavy Traffic Approaching Rookwood Cemetery

Today when I was driving to my brother’s house for mother’s day lunch we passed Rookwood Cemetery. The line of traffic trying to enter the cemetery would put morning peak hour to shame.

“How sad”, I thought. It must be one of those horribly painful days when it feels like the rest of the world is celebrating; those people in the traffic jam were hurting.

How would I react if my mother passed away tomorrow? And to be honest I don’t know if I would be ‘absolutely devastated’ which is the common held viewpoint. I would be sad; but you see my mother isn’t my rock. She’s not someone I ever turned to. Ever.

It’s not that I don’t love my mother. And it’s not because I don’t respect her. Because I do love and respect her. And I am very aware of the sacrifices she made for me. She worried about me; she helped me; she supported me. But she never bonded with me; and that there is the broken link in the chain.

Hers was a different parenting style; from a different era. She grew up in a time when girls got married and had children. That was their lot in life. You didn’t marry for love; you married a good man who would look after you.

And you certainly didn’t have kids because you wanted to; you had kids because you were expected to.

Even though I was an ‘accident’ my mother did show me love. I do remember the lovely things she did for me growing up. But she never spoke about herself. Conversations were always of a practical nature. She didn’t tell me about the birds and the bees. She was relieved on the day when I first got my period that I didn’t need her to explain what was going on because my older sister had already clued me in.

My sister had to find out from her friends.

But our relationship also had a reactionary element to it. You see the man my mother married, didn’t turn out to be so nice.  So for many years my mother stressed and worried about what type of mood my father would be in and spent equal number of years protecting us from his temper.

She spent so long just trying to keep the peace that I think the option of sitting around relaxing of a cup of tea to have a conversation was well…not an option.

We didn’t spend much time together as a family; purely because my siblings and I tried to avoid our father.

So those years when we should have been talking were spent either in silence, doing chores or in separate rooms.

I was jealous of my friends who had fantastic relationships with their mum. Who could go crying to her because they had a fight with their boyfriend or they are having trouble with schoolwork or they are just having a bad day.

There was no room in my life for that. Wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend; and perhaps I should study more and bad day? I’ll give you bad day….

My mother didn’t have time or room in her life for my problems. She had her own. But like I said at the top, she has done a lot. And I know that I put her in a difficult position plenty of times when she would try to mediate a fight between my father and I. And my father would always say in disgust “that’s your daughter”.

I had to learn to get on with my life without my mother as my rock.  I didn’t turn to her for help when I got married and even when I was pregnant I didn’t turn to her for advice. “Doctors know better”, she would say.

Soon after I got married my mother did say to me that if she got cancer she wouldn’t treat it because her time here on earth had served its purpose. Her reasoning was she raised 3 kids who were independent and no longer needed her. She didn’t need to worry about us anymore; we knew how to take care of ourselves without her.

Now because of her age, she can’t babysit or help out with anything physical but she will buy me extra pasta if she sees it on special or chocolate Monte biscuits because she knows I like them.

We don’t talk everyday; maybe once a week. And again, conversations are usually of a practical nature.  How are the kids going at school? Did Alex score a goal in soccer?

I know what you might say. That’s it not too late to begin a real relationship. I’ve tried. I even think she’s tried but it just seems all too awkward so we just fall into our usual patterns.

In a backward bizarre way at least I know that when my mother does die, I won’t be so brokenhearted that carrying on without her will seem unimaginable. Sounds nasty but in a way I feel like I’m going to be spared emotional turmoil.

I don’t know what’s worse? To be brokenhearted or apathetic?


  • At 2012.05.14 14:26, Purple Cath said:

    Raw and honest. That’s what I love about you. Interesting thoughts and reflective on many levels. Thank you xxx

    • At 2012.05.14 14:35, Maria said:

      Thanks Cath. This was one of those posts when I hit publish I wanted to crawl under my doona. I really don’t want people to get the wrong impression.

      Love & stuff
      Mrs M

    • At 2012.05.14 15:20, Daniela said:

      I understand what you are saying and in some ways I envy that you will not have the heartbreak of losing one so close. But I also wouldn’t trade a good relationship with my beautiful mother for that and I am sad you didn’t get to experience it. I am sad for everyone who doesn’t get to experience it. It is the way it should be. As the saying goes, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved t all…

      • At 2012.05.14 17:07, Maria said:

        Hi Danny,

        You’re probably right. I think I grieved about this long ago that if I think about it I’ve already gone through the process.

        And yes, it is the way it should be.

        Love & stuff
        Mrs M

      • At 2012.05.14 16:08, Lachy said:

        Great post Muz. I think we all have feelings that are a bit uncomfortable to put out there. The world is richer when we do though!

        When it happens I wouldn’t be surprised if your feelings actually take you by surprise.

        Have you ever said thanks to her for the things she did do? Sounds to me like she got dealt a shit hand in life, but she helped make it possible for you to get yourself a better one.

        • At 2012.05.14 17:16, Maria said:

          Hey Lachy,

          We’ve (my siblings and I) have told her over the years that we appreciate all she has done. And that we recognise that everything was a reaction to my dad.

          I don’t doubt that I’ll be sad but my mum isn’t part of my everyday life so there won’t be much disruption there. Most people I’ve spoken to about grief say that it hurts most when things they would normally do don’t take place anymore.

          My mum did get handed a raw deal and we all recognise it which is why we hold nothing against her. And yes, she did try to make it better for me.

          Love & stuff
          Mrs M

        • At 2012.05.14 16:20, Kimbalee said:

          Brave and honest. I applaud you, so many of us aren’t open enough about our damaged relationships from the past, and the only way to heal from them is to be honest with ourselves and open with everyone else. I hope I too, some day find the courage to be more open. Thank you again. xx

          • At 2012.05.14 17:18, Maria said:

            Hi Kimbalee,

            I’m glad you got something out of this post. So many of us have less than perfect relationships. I don’t want to sit around and complain about it, but I think we need to be courageous enough to look within ourselves and evaluate.

            Putting on a blog post is purely optional of course 😉

            Thanks for the visit and the comment.

            Love & stuff
            Mrs M

          • At 2012.05.15 17:26, Glowless said:

            I’m not sure what is worse, I don’t think either are pleasant. But I think in your comment reply to Danny you hit the nail on the head – we often grieve a relationship before a person passes away, and then, when they do, there isn’t much more to get upset about other than the loss of their physicality.
            If you had asked me as recently as three years ago I would have had a very similar tale to tell.

            • At 2012.05.17 11:16, Maria said:

              Thanks for the visit and the comment Glow. I partly wrote this post so when it does happen I can look back and see how I felt in anticipation and compare to how I will feel when it does actually happen.

              Love & stuff
              Mrs M

            • At 2012.05.15 18:48, Kleonaptra said:

              Thankyou so much for sharing this. Its something I really needed to hear….And can relate to.

              • At 2012.05.17 11:14, Maria said:

                Hugs to you Kleo.

                Love & stuff
                Mrs M

              • At 2012.05.17 12:48, Grace said:

                I’m in a very, VERY similar situation to you. My mum is 78 and I’m 40. HUGE generation gap. And we have an extremely tumultuous relationship based on similar reasons you’ve stated.
                Funnily enough, I’ve been thinking a lot about her and our relationship these days and I’ve come to the conclusion that I will be crushed when she passes away. I will be even more heartbroken if I don’t mend some of our relationship.
                I definitely know that it’s not in my nature to be apathetic.

                • At 2012.05.21 10:58, Robbie said:

                  Thank you for being so honest on a subject with taboos. It’s very sad to think of your childhood constrained by fear and lack of support – wonderful that you got on and created a loving family.

                  I never remotely anticipated how gutted I’d be (for years) after my mother passed away. She was born in 1912 and lived through phenomenal change, having me at 43 y/o. We had our difficulties but thankfully shared a lot of good times in her last years, which tempered the regrets. I came to see the wounded child in her.

                  I don’t suppose your Mum will read this. It may be beneficial to get things out on the table while it’s possible. Surprising things can happen.

                  • At 2012.05.21 15:21, Heartbroken said:

                    Hi Maria,

                    thx for your blantantly honest & upfront post. Strangely enough…I have been thinking about it alot lately too. I am 40, haven’t had kids & am afraid now because my mother is Dutch & sounds very much like yours in her ‘practical’ approach which just comes across as cold & harsh to me, even though it’s prob just a cultural diff. She had 4 kids with a narsicisstic man & pretty much brought us up on her own so think she’s just had enough. Even now, she still hankers after his love & approval while he treats her disrespectfully but they are STILL together. That generational think ’till death do us part’ even though we are both extremely miserable & everyone can see it. Her comment was “if you want kids, then it is your responsibility” What does that mean? It doesn’t make me feel like she wants grandkids & will be there for me. I am going oseas soon & am shit scared of not being able to cope without help, especially with a history of depression (even though in reality she’s not really present anyway) & I’m also sad @ the prospect that I may miss out on experiencing love altogether & regret it with age & growing old alone? So important to break the cycle…good on you for being so strong & brave! An inspiration to women all over the world 8)

                    (Required, will not be published)