by Tara Beckett.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
My dad loves me, and that makes me happy.
My mum loves me, and that makes me sad.
It’s not because I care for my father any more than my mother, if anything the opposite is true. But I don’t deserve my mother’s love. It’s too pure.
When I realised that my dad loved me and I loved him back, I was happy. I’ve never been particularly close to dad. He’s a simple man, really. Honest and hardworking, quite frankly we don’t have that much in common. I’m lazy and I lie too easily and worse still, I like it that way. He’s set in his ways, old fashioned and traditional, and blue collar working class to the bone. I’m really none of those things, or at least, I don’t want to be. He didn’t understand me when I was growing up, and probably still doesn’t. I didn’t like him at all, and he still bothers me with his knee-jerk reactionary views, never really thought out or researched. Basically, he’s the Herald Sun, I’m The Age. We clash, and I don’t like much about him, but I love him. He’s a good man at heart who’s had a hard life and a shitty family. He is the best of all of his five siblings, hands down. He doesn’t pressure me or put expectations on me, he just loves me. That makes me happy, because I always thought he preferred his sport-loving, easy-going son to his dramatic, radical, free-thinking daughter.
But when I realised how unconditionally my mum loved me, it made me sad. Because I’m not good enough for my mum.
She deserves a better daughter than me, because all she’s ever done is adore me. I always thought my brother was her favourite, she always believed him over me. That’s my fault too. I lied too many times to stay out of trouble, I had two more years to corrupt her trust than my brother did. He let her in, while I kept her at arm’s length.
She misses me so much since I moved out of her house two years ago, but I barely think of her unless I need something. I don’t mean to, but I’m busy. I could make time, but I make excuses instead. I take her for granted and find her loving, exasperated texts annoying and all together too frequent. I reject her phone calls and I reject her love because I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve everything she does for me. What’s worse is that she does it so her own childhood is not repeated.
When my mother was young, she became ill with a kidney disease and spent a long time in hospital. He father worked, but her mother never came to visit her in hospital. Months and months went by and my mother stayed in hospital without her parents visiting her once. Not even once. I was in my early teens when she told me this story. I was callous and unthinking when I asked, “Do you think your mum didn’t love you properly?”
She said nothing. She cried, she wept bitterly because it was true and I felt the lowest I had ever felt.
My grandmother has been ill my whole life. She was in a house fire. She went home to Bosnia to visit family and her niece jumped under a train with her baby daughter. She pulled all of her own teeth out at the age of 45. She was never a fit parent, never a good mother to her daughter. My grandfather adored her, but she never loved him properly and it broke his heart. She never loved my mother properly, and it damaged her beyond repair, so much that she forces love on her own children so much that we rebuke it. Especially me.
Her parent failed her and it’s her mission not to do the same. She doesn’t want me to have her life but the extreme depth of her love is just too much for me. Her smothering makes me more aloof and it damages us both. We make each other cry, and it’s due to this mad old woman that my mother has to care for now, the same woman that never cared for her properly, never loved her properly.
I’ll never be good enough for my mother’s love because I don’t have her damage. My damage is knowing I’m not good enough. Hers is thinking that I am.
I don’t accept her love because I don’t think I deserve it.
Sad, isn’t it?
But at least there is clarity, at last.