Breakfast with Mom


I sat across the table from my  87 year old mother in the diner.  Two eggs, homefries,  a slice of cheese cake and  tea for me.  Coffee and four big fluffy pancakes swimming in syrup for her.  The waitress smiled at us sweetly.   I watched my mother try to cut her pancakes with a Parkinson’s hand that no longer works.  She won’t ask for help so I offer, sometimes she lets me, other times she wants to do it herself.

I tell her things about my life I know she wants to hear, leaving out so much of it there’s no way she could possibly know who I really am at this point in my life.  She doesn’t want to know.  I know there are a life time of things  about her I’ll never be able to grasp.

We are deeply different from each other.  And the truth is, sometimes, just being around her makes me anxious, makes me lose sight of the truth about myself.    It’s not intentional, she isn’t even aware of it, doesn’t want to know about it,  but she becomes a trigger.  Transporting me back to a place of shame,  worthlessness,  paranoia and  self doubt.

As I helped my mother get up from the table, the woman in the booth next to us watched and smiled.  A smile similar to the one people give babies.  “God bless you”  she said, as my mother took my arm and we walked past her.

It felt like a dream.  We walked in slow motion, the colors intense and bright, the woman’s big featured face filling my field of vision.  A mix of emotions rose up in me.  It was as if my subconscious was manifest in the real world.  Demanding that I pay attention.

I was annoyed.  Why was she blessing us?  I was only taking my mother out to breakfast.  And I didn’t even pay for it.   I was annoyed because I knew what she was thinking, what she was seeing.    I’m not taking care of my mother, I wanted to tell her.  My sister does that, my brother, her grandchildren, not me.    I only see her once in a while and for only a few hours at a time.   I don’t do half the things for her a good daughter does.  I don’t deserve your blessing.

She was my guilt.

I dropped my mother off at home.  We both said “I love you” to each other.   And I do love her.   We say the right things.  I do what I can.  Sometimes it’s good enough, it’s always at least a little  painful.  I’m still working on it.  Trying to own my feelings.  Knowing I’m not  really a bad person and I don’t have to feel guilty.  That there’s a reason I feel the way I do.







16 thoughts on “Breakfast with Mom

  1. Oh Maria,Just know that you are not alone in this difficult search to sort out Mother issues. I spent a long time in therapy getting this all clear.that was years ago. then we had to work on the Father issues! OMG. It went from bad to worse. You are loved Maria.No one is flawless. Please work on letting go of your guilt.I’m right there with you.OMG Let that lady bless you if it makes her happy. I got God’s blessings the other day while a woman was letting me ahead of her at the food store cause I had crutches! Whatever.We are Goddessess now.We are your photo above with our roots planted firmly in the soil. We will be

  2. See, I hate this new computer. It cuts me off,etc. To finish,We will be strong and happy as we have always deserved to be.

  3. It takes strength to express yourself so authentically. I completely hear you Maria. Those kind of feelings come up from deep within our core. I hate it when old programming creeps up into our heart and hurts like that.

    Spiritual dragon…breathe FLOWERS over Maria and remind her, that she has always been and always will be enough just the way she is.” It is not your fault sweet lady.

  4. Yes! I know these feelings, Maria.
    Sometimes skating on the surface of civility is the best we can do, and it is enough!
    With love,
    From Fran

  5. Hi Maria – my 91 year old mother follows me on Facebook, so I don’t have the guts to respond to you there about this blog post -what if she reads my response? Yikes! I just wanted to say yes, yes, yes – your words resonate with me and my own struggles with my mom. Thanks for expressing the conflicting emotions so well. My mother also follows my blog, which does keep me from posting there about my childhood pain.

    The tree in your picture captures how towering and even witchy my mom is in my psyche, how much she has aged, how much she is at my core.

    1. Well Janet, I know my mother isn’t reading this, and I think it’s kinda great in some ways that your 91 year old mom is on line. But When I posted it I thought to myself that even if she did read it, it’s the truth. And it’s not without love either. Also, I love your description of the tree. I knew I wanted to use that photo but I didn’t know why. You explained it to me.

  6. I wish that I still had my Mom to take out to lunch or shopping I would give anything to talk to her again. We went through some very hard times during and after the war and although we were very poor then, my Mom always made things better. I watched her die slowly of cancer and that was the toughest time for me. I hope you won’t hurt anymore Maria and that you can forgive.

  7. Know that you are not alone, Maria. I really liked what Fran said about skating on the surface of civility…… sometimes there is just too much bubbling underneath to unearth it all and it IS painful. I still carry guilt to some degree to this day even though Mom has been gone almost a year now……. not as painful as it was, but still there. We can’t go backwards, only forward in our own truth. I loved the photo you used for this post. I see a dragon rearing its head and stretching its wings…..trying to free itself from the tree that holds it like an anchor. Hmm………
    Susan M

  8. I cannot speak for the lady in the booth, but for me, I would say bless you for continuing to make the effort to have your mother in your life. Mothers can be tricky creatures, and even good relationships can be hard to maintain. Trust me, I know. So bless you for your effort. It is commendable.

  9. Maria, this is so clear. Not a wasted word. So transparent, so honest. Your true heart shows and it is beautiful. No shame in having what you have with your mother. You do your best, maybe she does as well. This is what you have, and it may not be what you wish for, but it is your honest truth. You are a beautiful, creative being and like all beautiful, creative beings, you struggle. It is in this struggle that we grow. I am happy to know you and to read your beautiful writing. It is a lesson for me.

  10. Oh Maria, you express yourself so very well. My mother has been gone 10 years (would have been 100). But I do remember when I would visit her out west not every year, but we did write–superficially of course–every week, and I would start to feel like the daughter, and of course I was grown with children. She was very loving esp during her later years. She had to work hard for us and did her best. All of the comments above are so good (may not be the word)and I can relate. But all that woman at the restaurant could “see” is that you were being kind to your mother and you are! So, do what you can in this life cause she will go to the next life. Blessings, Helen

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