July 24, 2008

Not the mother that I’m trying to become, but the mother I already have.

My mom and I talk on the phone every day, but I can’t say we’re close. Or rather, it’s fair to say that she is close to me but I am not close to her. I love her very much, and she’s a kind person full of good intentions, but she doesn’t make it easy.

We talk every day, yet I tell her almost nothing about myself. When I do tell her something, she usually drives me nuts about it. For example, if I tell her that I have a cold, she will usually insist repeatedly that I not go to work. She will also call my husband repeatedly and ask about my health, instruct him to provide me with various remedies, and tell him to prevent me from going to work. If it were up to her, I would never work, even when I am healthy. “Do you have to go to work tomorrow?” Yes, of course. “Oh, I’m sorry.” So usually, I don’t tell her that I am sick until I can’t possibly hide the symptoms on the phone.

I do tell her if we are going out of town, so that she knows not to call. A few times I have forgotten to tell her, and then she keeps calling and leaving messages. Her personal record is nine messages in one weekend.

I try not to tell her about going out of town too far in advance, though, because she will ask me about it every single day until I leave. “You’re leaving on the 23rd? And you’re coming back on the 29th? So can I call you on the 29th or do I have to wait until the 30th?” Every day. If I tell her a month in advance, every day, for a month.

Almost every day: “Is your husband coming with you?” If yes, “Good. He’d better.” If not, “Tell him he should come. It’s not safe for you to go alone.”

Before I was born my mother travelled very extensively and lived on many continents, but her comments on my destinations sound like someone who has only seen postcards. Postcards from 1964.

You’re going to Denmark? They have the Little Mermaid statue.
In Paris you can go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Isn’t Czechoslovakia a communist country?

Despite talking about the departure nonstop, once I get back she barely mentions the trip and launches into the minutae of her life. For example, a play-by-play account of how she lost her keys and looked for 3 hours and finally called AAA then found them when the tow truck driver was pulling into the driveway and he charged her anyway. Or, a long story about how while I was gone, the dry cleaner lost a pair of pants. More than once I have called her on it.

Me: I have been out of the country for over two weeks. Would you really rather talk about the dry cleaner than anything I’ve done?
Mom: Oh sorry. Did you go on a gondola ride in Venice?
Me: I wasn’t in Venice, I was in Rome.
Mom: Oh, Rome is nice too. So anyway, the dry cleaner claimed that I already picked my pants up on Thursday…

You may wonder what we talk about every day for 15 to 45 minutes. The weather, check. What’s on TV tonight, check. Every interaction she has had so far in the day, from the grocery store to her friends to my father to the gardener, check. Her ever-changing feelings about Rachael Ray (“not as cute as her husband” or “why does she spend so much time cooking?”), Kelly Ripa (“not very smart” or “she always has really cute shoes”), and Judge Judy (“mean” or “always telling people what to do”), check. Her friends’ ungrateful children and how I’m so much better, check. What kind of drink she had today at Starbucks, check.

Our conversations have been like this since I moved out of the house, but in the past couple of years she has been showing a lot of signs of cognitive decline. Many days we talk about the same thing as we did the day before, or even the same thing from half an hour ago because she doesn’t remember that she told me.

What do we never ever ever talk about? Babies, TTC, anything having to do with fertility problems or interventions. When I first got married, I told her that I wouldn’t be having children for a long time so that I could focus on my education and my career. She has always been incredibly respectful of this decree I made over a decade ago. More than anyone else in our families, she has never made any offhand comments or asked any questions about having children. In fact, unlike our other parents who are all clamoring to be grandparents, she’s in no hurry. When people ask her why she doesn’t have grandchildren yet, she tells them that she is too young (not true) and I am too young (also not true) and it’s none of their business (that part is definitely true).

I can’t even imagine what it would be like if she knew what I have been going through for the past 6 1/2 years. Last month when she called me on the day of my egg retrieval, I was still woozy from the anesthesia. I said that I was tired because I hadn’t slept well, which was also true. What if she had known?

Mom: How did your surgery go?
Me: Okay, I guess. I won’t really know the results for a few days.
Mom: Did they tell you not to eat or drink anything for 12 hours before?
Me: Yes.
Mom: I hate that. They always make me do that before my cholesterol tests. Are you going to work tomorrow?
Me: No, I’m not allowed.
Mom: Good. You shouldn’t go back to work for at least a month.

Or, every single day:

Your pregnancy test is next Tuesday? What time can I call you to find out the results?


There was a couple who had IVF and then they got divorced and now they are fighting over the frozen embryos. I saw it on Judge Judy. She was very rude to them.

We haven’t told anyone in our families anything about IF. If we told some of them we would have to tell all of them, both out of fairness and because no one can keep a secret. In most cases, we don’t want to deal with their shit. However, there have been times when I would have liked to tell certain relatives, particularly a beloved grandmother who subsequently passed away and who would have so loved to be a great-grandmother. But the idea that I would tell my mother anything is laughable.

When I was pregnant and then M/C for the first time, during the brief period that I was actually pregnant, I told my friend who had started TTC at the same time and at that point had a toddler. Her reaction: “Oh my god, that’s fantastic! Congratulations! Have you told your mother?” What? My mother is the last person I would tell. This friend obviously didn’t know me that well.

So my questions to you, dear IComLeavWe readers who may need inspiration for your comment, are these:

  • Does your mother know about your TTC and/or IF issues?
  • Does your mother know about your blog?
  • Does your mother read your blog?

My answer to all three questions, as you can guess from everything I’ve said, is a resounding no.


12 Responses to “Mother”

  1. Kim Says:

    my family isn’t very public about our emotions. I know my mom knows about our TTC, but she rarely asks about it. I think she knows about my blogs, I’ve made the link to one of them public and the link to my TTC one is on the other, so it is not hard to find. I have no idea if she reads either of my blogs.
    I love my mom, but I find her hard to talk to most of the time. We are both very private.
    here from ICLW

  2. Marie Says:

    Oh my I am tired from reading that post and it is only 9am. Just kidding we all have some sort of mom issues and our poor children will have some as well. My mom is aimless and it drives me CRAZY. I am always the one on her about bills, work, etc.

    She and my dad got divorced realy late in life so she doesn’t realy get the concept of taking care of things.

    I do tell her about my fertility issues but she is pretty self absorbed so I don’t get much feed back.

    She always makes it a point to tell me who we know that is pregnant and points out all babies anywhere we go. I could do without that.

    She has no clue about my blog and I plan to keep it that way.

    My blog is anon and I like it like that. The only person that knows is hubs and it helps that he reads it IMO.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  3. nh Says:

    My mother knows about my fertility issues in general but not specifics. She knows I have had ICSI cycles but I don’t tell her when going through them, since the first time when she told lots of people when my blood test was and everyone was on tenderhooks.

    She doesn’t know I blog and she certainly doesn’t read it.

  4. LisaS Says:

    one of my friends has a mom like that. she finally gave up and moved back in at 35, and 4 years later, there she is, probably for the rest of her life.

    the only part of my TTC journey Mom was in on were the miscarriages. we made the mistake of telling people too early both times … so she worried and worried and worried until well after the Girl arrived.

    My mom reads both of my public blogs, but not the private one. and she won’t find out about that one. ever. gotta vent somewhere ..

    happy ICLW …. and good luck! (with mom & the TTC thing … )

  5. Nity Says:

    I just stubbled upon your blog from L&F, not part of IComLeavWe. Can’t remember how I got here, but I’m sure it was to give you some kind of support.

    But I got completely wrapped up in this post. It’s incredible. I can totally relate in so many ways. I am not very close to my parents in many ways, and yet talk to them often (especially my dad). Our conversations run very similar to yours — getting back from a trip or whatever and it totally focuses on them and their life (mostly the people they meet that we have no chance of meeting but apparently must know every detail). We’ve told them nothing about IF, and anything related. The most I’ve said is that I had wierd stuff going on when I got of bc and needed some tests to figure it out. We left it at that. I’m sure they probably suspect we might be trying, but haven’t said anything. I haven’t either. My blog is anon too. My mom doesn’t even know about it. My dad either. My husband has read it twice, but I prefer that he doesn’t.

  6. Allie Says:

    I actually have a great relationship with my Mother and she is the only person I can talk to sometimes without useless judgement. My mother-in law is different though and although I love her to death I plead with my husband not to tell his family about our struggles becuase I get all sorts of advice and suggestions from her. It’s hard enough to go through miscarriage and infertility but even harder to have to explain or comfort someone else about it.

  7. Deborah Says:

    My mother knows everything about my ttc and infertility issues; knows about and reads my blog. My MIL is another story. Unfortunately she knows about our ttc and infertility, but she knows nothing about my blog and I hope to keep it that way. I love my MIL but to tell you the truth, she sounds a lot like your mother. She knows very little about me and is extremely quick to reverse any conversation back to her. Maybe it’s an age thing??

  8. Tee Says:

    I never had TTC issues but have had my eyes opened to it’s heartbreaking impacts on so many people via my sister Topcat’s secondary infertility issues and subsequent blogging about it. Mother issues on the other hand? Now that I can wholeheartedly say I have in common! Your second paragraph, oh I can relate, on so many levels!!

    My mother has no idea I have a blog and she never will.

    My mother has no idea who I am, and most likely she never will.
    Tee (ICLW)

  9. kirke Says:

    My mom is lucky if she can turn on the computer. She’s not very technologically saavy. And they call this a mouse? No kidding?!

    I just came out of the closet with my most of my friends and family about our infertility, but in no way do I want any of them to read my blog. That would make more than uncomfortable.

    Here from ICLW

  10. Shelli Says:

    My Mom knows pretty much everything about TTC/Treatments. However, she knows nothing about my keeping a blog for the last three years. I’m not sure why I keep part of me so secret, it’s not like I have anything to hide… just my little private place I guess!

  11. Star Says:

    My mom (both my parents do) knows about our IF/TTC stuff. She would never bug me about the results of a particular cycle, though, and has never said anything more offensive than “have you thought about adopting?” (which, in fairness, she probably got from the fact that my dad’s parents were childless for years, adopted two girls, and then went on to have four of their own children with no treatment). In going over everything with her, she thinks that she must have had PCOS too but didn’t know it and was just lucky she didn’t have any trouble conceiving my brother and me.

    She does not know about my blog, though. I do have many past issues with her parenting that I need to be able to discuss there. Only a few IRL friends know about my blog, and I think only two of them read it with any regularity.

    On the other hand, my husband’s family knows nothing about our IF stuff, and I want to keep it that way until we have completed our family. My MIL is a nice woman, but a little too gossipy for my taste, and doesn’t know anything about IF so would probably make those insensitive comments that make you want to scream, so it’s best if we just keep it to ourselves. Obviously, they don’t know about my blog either.

  12. MeAndBaby Says:

    Holy cow as I started reading this, I thought you and I might be sisters. Then yours got a little… worse than mine.

    My mom knew I was trying up until my second m/c. She does not know I am strongly consider another go at it.

    She does know I have a blog and she does NOT read it. Or, fortunately, know how to find it.

    May both of our mothers settle down when we become parents. 🙂

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