When I get off the phone with my mother,

I always want something to eat

Hard, dark toast with lots of butter and a hunk of salty cheese, black tea with cream and honey.

I know I’m trying to fill myself up

fill up the empty spaces, everything that wasn’t said.


I’ve always wanted more.


And I always felt bad leaving my mother after a visit

She seemed so alone.

But I always wanted to leave

so I could get back to myself, something I could never be around her.

Now she’s 86.  Lives in a brand new condominium, surrounded by neighbors of all ages.  She has friends for the first time in her life since I’ve known her.  She’s often in pain and tired, but she continues to live her life and seems as content as ever.

For a while, after I got divorced, our phone conversations were fraught.  Me trying to explain my life and choices to her.  Her not understanding.

Now they’re back to what they always were.  She tells me about her day.  Taking a walk, watching TV, what she had for breakfast.  I tell her stories I think she’ll like, being careful not to go too far below the surface of safety.

We never learned how to talk to each other, but we know how to eat together.

Bagels and cream cheese, tea and dense, sweet desserts.  Anything chocolate. It’s where we come together, something we share.

And at this point in her life

and in mine

I’m learning that it’s enough.

23 thoughts on “Enough

  1. I understand this type of relationship with a parent. My father is on the east coast and I am now on the west. My mother passed away two summers ago. Thankfully, he lives with one of my brothers – to be honest, it lessens the guilt of not visiting more often. At least I know he is not alone. “But I always wanted to leave so I could get back to myself,…” Since I left home I have changed so much that our conversations are much like your conversations with your mother, “not going too far below the surface of safety.” He talks about his ailments briefly, what he is watching on tv, a lot about the weather. I wish so much more for him, but he (and I) can not do more than he is willing or able, and I have to accept who and where we both are in life.

  2. Sometimes we just have to accept our parents for who they are and love them anyway sort of the same thing we had hoped they would do.

  3. It’s sad when our relationship with our parents (or any family) can’t be what we want them to be, but sometimes we just have to accept what they are. I love how you say that at this point in life, your relationship with her “is enough.” I can completely relate to that with many members of my own family. Peace to you…

  4. I think we are never truly adults until we realize and accept our parents faults.
    Acceptance is the key to life’s contentment.
    This is very well written.

    You are enough too Maria,
    Just as you are.


  5. from the depths of your soul and heart, Maria. This brought me to tears. Having just lost my Mom several months ago……. it was only near the end that we found our way to communicate. I only wish we could have found it sooner, but I was happy to have just have had *the place* you speak of for a short time. As long as one can find that, it is good.
    Susan M

  6. I think you become an adult when you come to understand your parents are just who they are. It’s good to share what connection you can; food is our first and last pleasure in life; sharing favorite things enjoyed together in earlier days means a lot to the truly elderly.

  7. Years ago I read,”My Mother/Myself”, by Nancy Friday. I highly recommend it. It infuriated and enlightened me. At one point I threw the book at a wall. Your post has inspired me to reread it.


  8. Maria,
    What a lovely and loving post.

    Just being present with your mother, in the moment, is enough. You’ve found a peaceful way to be together.

    Thank you for sharing this experience with us.


  9. I can relate to this so very much. You have written beautifully, Maria. It is a beautiful poem and reads so smoothly, with such deep feelings as well. I love it. Thank you for sharing.

  10. I actually feel like I can’t be all of myself with a lot of people in my life – more than just my mother. Interesting. Wondering if it’s a lack in me, a fear thing. Working on it. Love the honesty of this post. Interestingly, my mom and I have started a tradition of a birthday lunch together and it’s a lovely time.

  11. Dearest Maria,
    Your words in this post contain so much heartbreaking and yet affirming wisdom for me. It is too much to absorb at one time. I’ll be pondering and assimilating these thoughts way into the future,
    Thank you immensely,
    Love from Fran

    PS It was a beautiful day here in Vermont too, and I’m glad Flo kept you company.

  12. Maria, the experts say that a mother/daughter relationship is never easy and I’ve always wondered why. I don’t have any answers to that but these ‘statements’ of what is true always bother me, I ask: prove it…yet I see all around me, fragments of stories of mother/daughter difficulties. Food is always a good meeting ground. My mother and I were very different (I was adopted as a baby a few days after my birth) and for whatever reason, I’ve always felt grateful for both my parents, now deceased. My mother was very controlling (but then may I be??), she was controlling of me but I think I’m mainly controlling over myself and my environment. Is there a difference? It’s hard to see us as we are. Later in life, I learned that a sense of humour with my mother worked well in jollying her out of her arguing black was white even if it wasn’t. Later too in life after my father died, I’d call her every morning at 8:45 a.m. to see how she was…some days she wasn’t feeling well, she had a heart condition. On those days, I’d say: are you still alive? And she’d get her bushy tail up, what do you mean am I still alive…and I knew she’d be fine for the rest of the day…she always rose to the bait. I’ll always be grateful for the care and love given to me by my two parents. I could have ended up anywhere in life, it was a roll of the dice that I ended up where I did. You take from people what you can, it may not be what you’re looking for but then I always figure that is a greater need for me in whatever I’m looking for in others, so I’d better learn to deal with it. I loved your writing about your mother…it’s honest and honesty meets the heart.
    SandyP in Canada

  13. Powerful, deep words that brought me to mild tears & brought many memories. My mother had Alzheimers, but often shared things from her childhood that I had never known before on my visits, & this was very special. Your writing speaks to me!. Thanks. Mary Ann Cauthen

    1. I sometimes think how we can never know so much of our parents life, They can tell us stories from their past, but rarely, if ever can we know what their experiences were like before we came along and have were able to have our own versions of things.

  14. Maria, this is so beautiful and touched me deeply. I will think “it is enough” when I am with my father. Thank you for your insightful writing.

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