They (my family of origin) regarded my serious nature as ‘weird.’ … I didn’t fit into this jolly but contentious tribe. … I wanted more than anything to be part of a happy family able to show their love for each other. ~Linda A. Marshall in A Long Awakening to Grace, Page 25
I was thrilled to have a daughter and looked forward to the opportunity to develop a loving relationship with her. I wanted to be different from the critical, disapproving mother who had raised me. ~Linda A. Marshall in A Long Awakening to Grace, Page 5
As often happens, this pattern from my family of origin infiltrated into the family I helped create. My children came to mock my love of reading, my interest in digging deep into consequential topics, and my serious nature. In their resistance, they wrote me off as “weird.”
I longed for a friendship like some of my friends had with their adult daughters but couldn’t find a way. ~Linda A, Marshall in A Long Awakening to Grace, Page 211
In 2016, when Nicole’s disease had progressed to the point she could no longer work and live independently, she moved in with me. We had lived together before and it had not gone well. It was at its worst before we had a diagnosis. And, to her credit, as an adult, she didn’t want to live with her mother. This time it was necessary. We both set out to change our attitude and behavior to make it work.
I instituted regular expressions of affection and stretched myself to enjoy some television programs with her that I would not have watched otherwise. It’s her major way to connect. I’m not as picky as I used to be and she’s not as messy as she once was. I accept the “social avoidant” aspect of her disease as something I can’t change. When I extend invitations, she almost always said, “No.” I accept and rarely comment. When friends visit and she stays in her room, which she usually does, I don’t pressure her to come out.
Then at Thanksgiving, something began to change. Two of my friends came to celebrate the holiday with us. After dinner, Nicole did not retire to her room. One of those friends joined us on Christmas day. Nicole spent the day with us. On New Years Eve, those same two friends joined us to ring in the new year. We watched a lengthy documentary about a time in our history that would not have interested Nicole. She stayed with us well into the wee hours of the morning. She even joined in our conversation about those long ago events.
After the first of the year, I began organizing a group of women to go see On The Basis of Sex about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s life. Because most restaurants don’t have space to reserve for group discussion, we came up with a plan to do a potluck at my home. Nicole overheard me on the phone with my friends figuring out the logistics … it takes a village.
One day, Nicole approached me and said, “Mom, can I go to that movie with you?” I was surprised and ecstatic!!
Not only did she go to the movie with us, she joined in the conversation over dinner. I think that she has discovered that her mother has a pretty neat group of friends. And I think she doesn’t consider me “weird” anymore.
I’ve waited a long time for this!
What about you?
How did your family of origin relate to you? How did it work for you?
What changes have you had to make for a relationship to work?
What have you waited a long time to experience?