My mom is in surgery right now. They must be really concerned to have rushed her in this week. She called me last night and was really anxious. In the midst of it all, she was still her typical annoying and manipulative self.
For instance, I told her what I had already bought my daughter for Christmas, and she went out and bought the same things. Typical. And she passively aggressively mentioned that the doctor asked if she would have family at the hospital, and then when I pointed out that sitting in the waiting room with all four kids when she wouldn't be feeling like visitors in the ICU for a couple of days seemed counterproductive, she snapped "I didn't ASK you to come!" Well no, not exactly ;).
Anyway, I have been convinced for years that my mother would live forever (if just to torture me), but I'm starting to believe in her mortality, and to see the things she does as petty annoyances. I've been slowly trying to change the way I see her, because I know that if I keep using her as my foil, it will be harder when she's gone. I mean, who will I fight with, or blame for everything? (kind of tongue-in-cheek).
So for the last year, I've been working to reframe our relationship, and to offer love instead of rancor and frustration and defensiveness. Yes, she was a horrible, abusive mother. She has tried to undermine my friendships and marriages. She has guilt-tripped my kids, mortally offended my husband(s), and dissed me to people who are already angry with me. But someone like that obviously needs love. A person who is almost impossible to love needs our love desperately.
It doesn't mean that I don't continue to have strong boundaries, or to be careful what information I give her, or that I don't protect my kids from her nuttiness. But it does mean that I try to see her as a hurting person, who isn't going to get mentally or physically better. I don't want to spend her last years being hurt by petty stuff. Of course, living 250 miles away helps. I've been thinking and meditating on loving-kindness a lot lately, and trying to send it out to those who need it the most. My mom usually comes to mind.