5/02/2010

Maman

When I was pregnant, I finally began to realise the weight attached to my own notion of motherhood. I never perceived myself to be the maternal type, and my relationship with my own mother, though loving, has some element of distance because we are two very different people. I have never been particularly fond of children, and even with one of my own, maintain a withdrawn, wary stance when it comes to the children of others. Since I had P, I suppose my Mom and I have grown closer, though I do feel as if my general emotional reservedness is at odds with her outgoing, emotionally bold personality.

My Mom lost her mother when I, her first child, was not yet a year old. Growing up, I knew how profoundly her loss affected her - she was apologetic that I never knew my grandmother, and her mourning was two-fold now that she too had a daughter. I didn't think much about the daughter-mother-grandmother link until I was trying to get pregnant and had a dreadful nightmare that my Mom died right after I had a daughter of my own. I was lost as she had been, struggling to come to terms with new motherhood and grief simultaneously. It was a strange, lingering dream which annoyingly elbowed its way into my waking life and provided a very odd world for me mentally for quite some time afterwards.

Since I had P, I haven't lingered on that dream much. I can't. As most of you know, I have some issues with anxiety, so the further away those thoughts, the better. My worry is often allocated entirely to P, and there is so much of it, there is not often much spare. This afternoon my brother called to say that my Mom took herself to the ER early this morning because she was having heart palpitations. Because "rational" is not a word often associated with my mental processes, I have been going to extremes all day. My brother has not seemed overly concerned, but then again, he's male, and I'm 4000 miles away and helpless. He often downplays all of my Dad's forays into alcoholic idiocy, so I know he's worried too and just masking it well.

Being a negative person and extreme worrier, this only goes one way with me. Even if it's nothing this time, it has awakened an alarm within me so that from now until someone actually dies, I will think every phone call is bad news. I know it sounds horribly melodramatic and an exaggeration, but this is how my mind works. It has always latched on to one occasion where something went wrong, and thus every other time the same situation presents itself, I assume it to be bad. Once The Dude had head pain so severe that I rushed him to the ER, with me believing he was surely experiencing an aneurysm and would die before we got there. Instead, he was 26 when he discovered he inherited his mother's tendency to debilitating migraines. Nonetheless, with every twinge, every need to take an Excedrin, it's 11 years ago again and I'm bracing myself for the worst.

Since my brother phoned, I have been catastrophizing. That's what us anxious people do, and who am I to disappoint? I am now starkly aware of my Mom's mortality, and cannot think of anything else. I think of it in terms of her being my own mother of course, but also her presence as the Granny P adores. I could be a mother defining my own mother to my child in purely anecdotal terms one day - soon? - just as she was 25 years ago. My mind then goes further, just to fuck with me even more, to remind me that as I'm trying to get pregnant again, I have possible dead-grandmother emotional baggage for that hypothetical child as well. Yes, yes, I know it all sounds so absurd, and to be honest typing it makes me feel a bit ridiculous. Regretfully, rational thought does not mix well with catastrophizing.

My Mom rang about an hour ago, scaring the shit out of me as that blessed ring will do from now on. She wanted to tell me that all was ok, "so you'll sleep well tonight." Ha! She's in a difficult place - other than being more or less on her own to deal with this, she has to concern herself with my fragile mental state. She knows how I am. She often brings up the many times in my childhood when I would be too anxious to sleep and she had to stroke my hair and talk about our "peaceful place." Apparently her issue (something about a sinus which I WILL NOT Google, or I shall never sleep again) can be treated by something as simple as medication, or at its most invasive extreme, a pacemaker.

Strangely enough, there was a line that had been bouncing around in my head all week, one which I read somewhere - I'm paraphrasing, but basically, the important things that change your life are the ones which happen in a second. We tend to ascribe all the gravity of our lives to the things we ponder over and over again - do I move back to the US? Do I greet infertility again to see if I can try my luck again? - rather than the ones which can change it all in an instant.

I was in an awkward mental place prior to all of this anyway, so it's only natural that the weirdness should be extended a bit longer. I guess it's a combination of PMS (because OF COURSE my period is impending), and general mental imbalance, but I have been near tears or tearful for the past 48 hours. Now I guess I at least have a good reason to be so. I'm so paranoid, another fun aspect of my uh, issues, that I picture people reading this and rolling their eyes. Many of you have lost your mothers, or had mothers with issues more severe than what appears to be a rather harmless condition as far as heart things go, and here I am, rabbitting on like the most overreacting-nest person who ever overreacted. If anyone would like to talk me down off the ledge, you are more than welcome to do so.

19 comments:

Emma B. said...

It's been nineteen years since my dad got sick, twelve years since I got the phone call telling me the clock was officially running out. I've spent my entire adult life fretting about whether a Nothing would turn into a Something with my mom, because I lost that instinctive belief that things would always turn out OK. In some ways, infertility was a little easier on me than it is on others, because I'd already come to the realization that sometimes Bad Things Happen. Once you learn that, you can't undo it -- all you do is cope with it the best you can. On the other hand, you also learn that you can still keep on going even in the face of the worst thing that's ever actually happened to you. So I won't tell you that you're overreacting or paranoid, just to take some deep breaths and keep your chin up for whatever might come.

Orodemniades said...

I've been the same way, I swear,since birth. I think about the death of my loved ones pretty much on a daily basis, don't ever remember not doing so. Yeah, I'm with you on the anxiety and paranoia thing.

May said...

As a fellow anxious child who grew into an anxious adult, the only helpful suggestion I can think of is to practice and use your techniques for going to that peaceful place. I'm also a horrible insomniac, and have going-to-sleep techniques that are similar. My husband is particularly prone to pointing out a foot-rubbing-on-the-sheet thing I do for both sleeping and anxiety. (Well, it works for me.)

Thinking good thoughts for your mother.

Panda said...

Habla con ella? Wow, thats weird since my daughters name is Ella.

Anyhoo, from one who has also been anxiety-ridden since '69, I totally understand where your mind is going with this. Everything, ev.er.y.thing., is worse once you have a child, bcs not only do you have yourself to be anxious about, but also the effect on your child as well and that is the real killer. God knows you dont want her to deal with the same shit you did.

Buggered if I know the way through it bcs I'm on meds and seeing professionals and have two kids and no contact with parents on either side, so I Have Issues. But I understand your reaction. So you're not alone.

We can be mad together!

Bittermama said...

Big hugs to you, Pru.

I guess I've had nearly the opposite situation - my mom is the overanxious one. I can be anxious, but she takes it to a whole other level. I've been noticing lately that I tend to go overboard with downplaying every thing she calls me about and not telling her about things going on with us unless she really needs to know because I just can't handle the craziness of jumping right in there with her. Then I feel horribly guilty of course, because sometimes it's NOT nothing.

Molly said...

Oh darling. I'm glad to hear your mom is OK, first.

Second, you don't need to apologize for being worried. There so much less of a sense of control, especially when you're far away. Chat with her often, and give P an extra hug.

electriclady said...

Aw, hugs to you. How could you not be anxious being so far away? Glad that your mom is OK.

hairyfarmerfamily said...

No clever words, but lots of hand-pats.

Aunt Becky said...

I understand and I'm sorry. I get all kinds of freaked out when the phone rings during any time when the phone isn't supposed to ring. Anxiety is awful.

Big hugs.

Calliope said...

relieved that your Mom was able to call you...and hoping that things continue to get better.
I am also in the boat SS Anxiety and it sucks.
So I hear you and don't know if I would be any good at talking you off a ledge, but I could offer some company and maybe some skittles.

Kath said...

Oh, sweetie. I understand your fears so well, and they are soul-crushing. Hoping you and all of your kids enjoy your mother for a long, long, long time.

Hug?

Major Bedhead said...

I don't agonize about my mother, but I do plenty of other agonizing, so I get this. I imagine accidents and calamities every time I leave my house, sometimes even when I don't. Mostly I try to quash it down but I often think maybe an anti-anxiety drug might help some days. Mostly I do a lot of deep breathing and stern-talkings-to, which do help a little bit.

I'm glad to hear your mother will be ok.

Betty M said...

I so understand this anxiety - you are very much not alone on this one. I have two paranoias - the phone ringing with bad news (which I now always associate with hearing my BIL had terminal cancer) and two policemen at the door. I am pleased though that your mother is ok and her condition (which sounds like what Tony Blair had) is easily treatable.

Lut C. said...

I can imagine being so far away makes it impossible not to fret. Especially if you can't trust your brother to give you an accurate report of what is really going on.

Glad to hear the news turned out to be not so bad as imagined. Thank goodness.

Clover said...

I'm sorry to be so late to the "talk you off the ledge" party- I am woefully behind on blog reading. I hope things are better now- your mom, everything. Did you come to the States this summer? Update when you can.

Betty M said...

LFCA tells me it was your birthday yesterday - Happy birthday! Hope all is well with you.

Thalia said...

Um, apparently you are moving back to the US, I just saw the post on Molly's blog. I'm glad you are doing what you want to do, although very sad we are losing you to these shores. Can we host a bloggy leaving party for you?

Betty M said...

Congratulations on your new job - I saw the news on Molly's blog. Love to hear more about it...

Clover said...

Yes, what's this about a new job and coming stateside? Details Ms. P!