Posted by Anonymous.
Mother’s Day was filled with Facebook statuses and blog posts about the joy of Motherhood. Most also included special sentiments about the author’s relationship with her own mother, and each time I read one, I scowled like a child.
Let’s face it- you were absent for most, if not all, of my childhood. Yes Mom, I realize
you were always there, in the house. Always commenting about laundry and about how
I will need to tell people about all you do when I get older. Always there, drinking out of glass bottles, because “drinking out of cans is low class.” Always there, locked in your room, smoking marijuana because it helped you to “be creative”. Always there, because you never left the house except for a short walk across the street to buy cigarettes.
The excuses I would make for you were varied and creative- you had seasonal affective
disorder or that you were bipolar (because these had come up on television, and that
seemed to fit at times). You couldn’t come to my concerts because you were afraid of
crowds. You couldn’t come to my younger brothers’ Open Houses at school because you
were sick (an excuse used so often that teachers barely blinked at a 14 year-old showing
up to collect her brother’s special projects). You missed soccer practices and baseball
games. But as I recall, you never missed a nap. Should we happen to wake you up from
one, we knew to run and hide.
As I got older, I was willing to blame the alcohol. It was alcohol that you brought with
you, practically kicking and screaming, to my little brother’s wedding that you tried so
hard to get out of. It was a six pack that you cracked open within 20 minutes of meeting
my daughter, you first grandchild, that you refused to hold as you cradled you can of
Natural Ice (now long past the need for elegant bottles). If you could just get sober, then you could be the mother I wanted, the mother I longed for, the fictional mother, who at the very least could teach me how to apply make-up and could give me advice as three months of colic with my second child wore on and on.
But Mom, you’ve been surprisingly sober for three years, and still that mother has yet to
make an appearance. In fact, in a fun twist of events, after 1 year of sobriety that we as a family had fought so hard for, you left my ever forgiving father for a woman you met on the internet (“Oh please, it’s not a big deal. It’s been on Oprah.”). Suddenly you can drive on I-95, where you were too scared to do it before, thus missing my graduation for my Master’s degree. Suddenly you can fly- but only to Arizona with your girlfriend… not to NY to see your third grandchild.
I go for weeks without hearing from you. It’s like a game. How many days will go
by before you realize you haven’t heard from me, and you can rush to the phone and
apologize? Only you never do, because I give up and call you around day 14. And
your conversations always revolve around how this world has done you wrong; how
much you actually hate your girlfriend; how much you hate having to take care of my
grandmother as she slips deeper into dementia. How much you wish my father would
take you back. How bitter you are that my brother doesn’t speak to you and how it is his fault because obviously it is a “lesbian thing.” (For the record, he wasn’t speaking to you for 6 months before your coming out, but you didn’t notice.) How you are going to call J.G. Wentworth and fight for the rest of your divorce settlement because you and your dogs can’t stand living with my grandparents one more day. And I let you talk, because I don’t know what else to do.
This weekend, for Mother’s Day, we came out to the house to have Mother’s Day
with you and Nana. We ripped out weeds in the garden as you talked away on your
cell phone, upstairs away from your daughter and grandchildren. We planted flowers
while you puffed like a chimney on the back porch. We went out to lunch while you
drove to the Comcast building to replace your cable box, which apparently could
only be done right at that moment. We had a great time with Nana, who is more of a
grandmother to my daughters than you will ever be, but that doesn’t seem to bother you.
So yesterday I struggled with whether or not to call you on Mother’s Day. I had come to the firm resolution that I would not, since I seem to mean so little to you. But in the late afternoon, I wavered, holding out still for that mother who may just show up one of these days. And I called that cell phone that never leaves your side for a second. And it rang and rang. I left a message. You have yet to call back.
So thanks Mom, for the blank slate you have given me on this journey into motherhood. Thanks for the advice you never offer. Thanks for giving me a clear path to make my own mistakes and the resolve to never repeat yours. I may not know how to be a mom, but I know how not to be one. My life is dedicated to being the best mother to my daughters that I can be, if only because I know how hard it is to find a Mother’s Day card that does not include any “great mom!” or “loving” sentiments. They deserve more than that, and so do I.