Although I'm a private person, hopefully sharing my experience is helpful to someone else. Since something special happened, today I'm opening up about the relationship with my mother.
She was little when my grandmother got very sick. My mother really wanted to get a more advanced education, but my grandfather was the breadwinner, so she had to drop out of school to take care of her while her older sisters were working and because her parents couldn't afford it.
When she was 15, she started dating my father, but soon she broke up with him because she couldn't make time for a boyfriend.
Even if she worked hard at home, her father had never caressed her face or shown appreciation for her commitment. "I only got hugs from my mother when I had a fever. It felt good. She was warm and soft. You know, your grandma has always been chubby". When she told me this, I burst into tears. I was in my teens, and I thought she was doing the same thing with me.
When I was a little girl, she kissed me goodnight, and sometimes I asked her to stay. She caressed my hair, and held me until I got asleep. These moments got rarer with time. Everywhere I went I saw mothers comforting their children when they were crying, and be very happy for them whenever they accomplished something.
I felt different. My mother has never made me feel that proud about myself. This made me cry so much throughout the years, but then I realized no one has ever told her "I'm really proud of having a daughter like you".
She has never comforted me in that way, and has always told me to stop crying making me feel a whiny little girl. She only does it when something is inevitable, she says. I do this whenever I find a problem overwhelming, so I vent my feelings and start searching for a solution right away.
I believe she cried a lot when she realized her parents considered her as a servant.
In spite of everything, she took care of them until the end.
Doing most of the housework and working hard to provide us enough money to lead a better life is her way to say me and my dad "I love you". I help her as much as possible to say "I love you too" in her own language.
I will always be the one to hug her first, and I know she will never be a very affectionate mother, but I'm extremely grateful for everything she does for us.
Yesterday she was talking about volounteers in rest homes, and I replied it's a noble way to spend your time since many elderly people are alone. Her eyes welled up with tears when she asked me "What are you going to do with us? Are you going to get rid of us?". I hugged her tight, and said "No. Just because I don't show I love you as often as I should, it doesn't mean I don't".
Then, for the first time in my life, we calmly talked about our relationship. She claimed "Being a parent isn't easy", while she has always blamed me for making everything so difficult, and she listened to what I had to say.
Since during the holidays we are forced (let's be honest) to be around parents and relatives we have a complex relationship with, why don't we try to let our feelings out? Of course we did it many times and things didn't change, but having a heart-to-heart conversation with them, and saying we love them even if they are a pain in the ass to put up with is the best gift we can give to them and to ourselves.
Merry Christmas everyone!