I've always had, at best, a complicated relationship with my mother. Strained, hateful, resentful, angry, avoidant, it's been all of these things and more. For a while in my 20s it was pleasantly superficial, then there was a blowout one Thanksgiving and I didn't see her for several years. We keep in touch mostly via email with the occasional phone call. I go home once a year, maybe twice depending on what's up with old friends in that area. Recently the husband and I have been talking about trying to have a baby next year, he made benefits and that was the big practical thing holding us back. We do have fights that I'm not crazy about, and that has gotten better, but it lead me to realize something that I was really concerned about. I often feel incredibly angry at him, and sometimes very resentful in an odd way, probably owing to the fact that I don't say everything on my mind, usually because it's something really unhelpful and angry, but I don't have a way to redirect it, so it sits there and seethes. And I see in this state, my mother. How she treated me when I was growing up was not awesome to put it lightly. But in this hateful state I've been finding myself in lately I see her emotions and treatment of me when I was growing up. And that has scared me a ton. Really, really I have been at a total loss as to how one could hate their own kid. Because that is what it feels like (I'm not proud of it but it happens). Sometimes a fight will come out of seemingly nowhere, and I cannot stand him. And so I've been thinking, well so this is how she felt. She really did hate me. And for a long while, well let's be honest, my entire life, I have had in the back of my mind that impression of parenthood from her: it really could be so bad that you wouldn't love your kid.
Ben and I have done a lot of work to mitigate our emotional triggers, and things have really gotten so much better in the past few months. But what I learned remained. It's been haunting me quite a bit. Until yesterday. Because yesterday Ben got the wild idea to go back to work on his geneaology research and decided to add me and start working on my side of his tree (thanks to ancestry.com's rules we can't just add each other and combine them). In doing so he discovered that my parents were not married when I was born. In fact, they didn't get married until I was almost 6 years old. A long time ago my (half) sister told me that our dad did not divorce her mom properly, he left, and they had to hire someone to find him. My mother had also told me that the reason my dad and Jane (my sister) didn't speak for 12 years was due to a "falling out" they had. In fact I didn't even know about his first family or my sister until I was 12 and they reunited at the funeral of a relative. So, when I add all this together, what it looks like is my parents were having an affair, and I came along, and then there was the leaving and so forth. And they couldn't get married because he wasn't divorced - because, why wait 6+ years, especially if you're super Catholic and pregnant?
My reaction to this news is nothing short of utter, utter delight. Because now it all makes sense. All the crap I took, her drinking and depression and resentment and anger, it all had very little to do with me, and very little to do with the normal impact of raising a kid. It was all about her own self-loathing, her Catholic guilt, and the upheaval of it all. For me, that kind of propriety has never mattered much, I mean, why beat yourself up about something like that? Shit happens. Worse, why be shitty to your kid because they're the reminder of the fact that shit happens?
I had no idea that there had been this lingering tension in the back of my mind for all this time, I only know it was there because now it's gone. I'm not genetically predisposed to hating parenthood or hating my kid, or even, owing to the fact that I don't beat myself up over shit happening, psychologically predisposed. I feel so relaxed about the idea of having a baby now, all the weird fears just dissolved yesterday. It's really remarkable. I haven't decided if I'll bring it up to her or not, I don't think there is any real reason to, she has never reacted well to me calling her on anything she ever did or said, claiming either to not remember or telling me to get over it without acknowledging much.