Their Bad Mother

Their Bad Mother

Fear And The Common Phone Call

So my mom called me the other day, to talk about this, that and the other, and in the course of our chatting she says, in passing, words to the effect of ‘… and so after I saw the vascular surgeon…’

At which point I interrupted and said words to the effect of ‘WHAT?

The surgeon, honey. For my aneurysm? I saw him yesterday, and…


‘My aneurysm. I’m sure that I told you…’


‘I’m sure that I did…’


And so on.

A couple of years back she ‘forgot’ to tell me that she’d had a mole on her arm diagnosed as malignant. She forgot to tell me that she had skin cancer. I was furious. I worried enough about losing my parents; to think that there might be extra cause to worry that I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT was enough to send me straight to my psychiatrist to renew my Ativan prescription. Parent-triggered anxiety: DO NOT WANT.


That, as I said, was a couple of years ago. Since then, I did lose my dad, and if anything my fears and anxieties about losing my parents have ratcheted upward a trillion-fold. The idea of losing my mom fills me with abject terror. It gives me nightmares. I can hardly think about it without needing to sit down and breath deeply into a paper bag. And knowing that there might be things that might cause that to be – things that she is not telling me – makes it worse. Much, much worse.

She tells me that I’m a worrier. Which I am. That’s the problem. I worry, a lot. And in the absence of information, I worry more. In the absence of information about whether or not there’s information that may or may not be absent, I worry even more. So. We have a problem. And, I know, it’s not her problem. It’s mine.


Sure, she should keep me better informed about this kind of thing, but she’s not obligated to, any more than I am obligated to keep her informed about every detail of my life. It’d be nice, but it’s not obligatory. What is obligatory is that I should cut her some slack, and not impose my fears and anxieties on our relationship. Instead of getting upset, I should have immediately just asked her how she was, how she felt, was she worried, what did the doctor say. And then said, I wish you would have told me sooner.

Letting fear shape our reactions, our conversations, our relationships is letting fear win. And I don’t want fear to win. Life’s too short for that.

Sorry, Mom.


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domestic extraordinaire

posted June 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm

honey, I so get this. It is so easy for big things to not get said or you think about how you are going to say them so many times that you forget to say them for fear you are repeating yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten upset after hearing after the fact about something.
I am really hoping that all is well with her and that you are doing okay too!

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posted June 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm

((hugs)) Catherine!! I’d pull the same type of conversation on my mom if she pulled something like that. While I agree we don’t need to (nor have the time or energy to rehash) every single detail about our lives, big things like that should be shared!! Best of luck to your mom!! She seems like a really sweet woman!

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posted June 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm

It’s not their obligation? And not ours? Uh oh….
Big hugs from me too – when my mom was alive, we had this type of convo all the time – where she doesn’t want to worry you and tell you but she actually really just wants a hug so she throws it in there..
Hope it all turns out well!

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