Mom’s Got Cancer – Entry 3 “Total Resentment”
There is a Japanese expression called “wagamama”, meaning spoiled brat, which is what I will use to call myself periodically. It is also a noodle house in London (not a very good one though). I couldn’t handle these two to three hour commutes for treatment and appointments anymore and ujjayi breath during road rage was only taking me so far. I was missing out on my daughters’ lives and their childhood. I started to play the role of victim, e.g. “Why is this happening to me? And why is this happening now when I have two young children to raise and a full time job? What karma am I needing to work through?!” We had been commuting for four years but it wasn’t just the commute that was wearing on me. It was the feeling that my mom’s health relied on her happiness which was contingent on how much quality time I spent with her, which was never enough. (Of course I know that peace and happiness are completely independent of outer circumstances but I still held onto the guilt of not being/doing enough). It was just this past Halloween where I missed picking up our girls from school because of an appointment of hers and told my mom I couldn’t take it anymore. We had to find another solution.
Here’s a bit of background on our relationship:
My mom left my dad when I was 7 and raised me on her own with the help of her mother. My mom had retired from running and worked as a part time secretary. She still ran but not competitively. We were very close. She never dated anyone after my dad and spent the majority of her time outside of work driving me to dance and piano lessons. She had devoted her life to raising me. I was 19 when I left my mom’s place to perform in Germany. For what I thought was going to be a year living abroad, turned out to being six years. My mom lived alone all that time and took care of my aging grandmother who was in a nursing home. She quit her job so she could visit me often. This was probably the turning point in our relationship where she began relying on me and I started to feel responsible for her happiness. She spent two months each year living with my boyfriend and me. Every vacation I took was with my mom and my boyfriend. I ended up marrying him because he was so sweet to her. We split up three weeks after though. It wasn’t until my mid twenties did I begin to see that my mom wasn’t perfect. She was human.
Once I found Scott and was pregnant with our second daughter, my mom left her life in LA and moved close to us. That was nine years ago.
My baba (grandmother in Japanese) was 92 when she died. For about the last 15 years of her life, I helped my mom take care of her when I was living in LA. As soon as I was legal to drive, I was taking her to her doctor’s appointments as my mom had taken on a full time position. I was a teenager then and did not like the responsibility of caring for her. Yes, wagamama. In the Asian culture, we take care of our parents and grandparents even if it drives us crazy.
I continued on the victim path calculating how many years I had without being a caregiver. I became an angry peace activist telling my mom she should meditate and if she hadn’t gotten depressed in the first place, she may not have gotten cancer. I know, harsh and I was/am feeling guilty for having these thoughts and expressing them.
This anger lasted on and off for a while and creeps back up again even now. I feel for my mom and everyone who’s had to battle a life threatening disease. I don’t know what it’s like to have your health deteriorate drastically and to have to accept that this may be as good as it’s going to get. It is a constant struggle for her to find relief. Once my mom was admitted into the intensive care unit at the hospital, I let go of blame and became the loving daughter again.