Friday, August 24, 2007

At a Loss

I just got off the phone with my mom. She's just announced that she will be giving me a substantial amount of money for my birthday. And I'm not talking about a few hundred. What she's planning will cover a good half the cost of an IVF cycle, should we need it. I have absolutely no idea how to deal with this.

See, I don't like my mom. When we were kids (and, frankly, up until the moment I gave birth to M), she was simply rotten. She was at once incredibly controlling and neglectful, and her favorite sport seemed to be finding ways of telling us kids that we were disappointments, burdens, the obstacles keeping her from health, wealth, success and happiness. To this day, thinking about some of the crap she pulled can bring me to tears of rage.

And worst of all, she categorically denies any of it ever happened. Those times that she kicked us out of the house or left us locked out, sometimes for days at a time? Never happened. All the times she told us she and dad were getting divorced and she had to know, right now, who we wanted to live with? Well, she was just kidding, and boy were were oversensitive. And of course, she never, ever hit us. She certainly never threw us down on the floor by our hair and kicked any body parts she could reach. Nope, didn't happen, and really, if we feel a need to make up all of these problems with her, we should be seeking psychiatric help.

I left home at 18 (well, I was kicked out, though my mom will maintain until the day she dies that I "ran away"). The years since then have been a patchwork of estrangement and truce. Usually, we wouldn't speak for a year or so at a time, then we'd start talking again, then something would happen and we'd be back to not speaking. In those years, I've trained myself to deal with lies and disappointment and insults and indifference.

I have not trained myself to deal with kindness.

Since M was born, my mom has been on her longest "good" streak to date. She professes to be interested in M. This past year, she told me she's proud of the woman I've become. She even invited people into her home, something she hadn't done since we were small children, to celebrate the births of her granddaughters (my brother has a daughter three months younger than M). There's a huge part of me that wants to believe that this time, she really has changed. That the money, if I accept it, won't eventually become a weapon used against me once the charm of being a grandmother wears off. But the truth is, I don't trust her. I've been burned too many times to be able to do so, no matter how much I'd like to.

So here I am, at a loss. The Boy has no qualms -- he'd take the money. But I just don't know if I can afford to.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I definitely understand your hesitation. If your family is anything like mine, nothing is ever a 'gift', there are always strings attached and it will come back to haunt you.