Having a mother or a father isn’t necessarily a luxury. We all have them. Ironically, they are like luggage…Some of us get Louis Vuitton luggage, while the rest of us end up with a set of Samsonite hand rolling bags from Sears.
I still cannot believe my paranoid schizophrenic father and narcissistic, delusional mother left me this way, screaming and trapped in this brain I can often make little or no sense of… On the up side, I managed to squeeze a few lemons and believe I have made some pretty damn good lemonade.
There are a broad spectrum of feelings and responsibilities that come with being a parent. Anywhere from being burdened with glorious purpose to simply being burdened. If you are being slathered with advice about how warm and fuzzy parenting is, you are being lied to. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be warm and fuzzy moments to accompany the rough and brutal times. It’s all a balancing act. Just like when your neighbor insists she slathers butter all over every meal and has not one dimple on her ass, she is flat out lying. You can’t tell me she is not doing leg lifts in the basement after everyone has gone to bed.
When you overhear the new mothers at church pridefully talking about how their babies sleep through the night at 6 weeks old and how they are Ferberizing them as if they will become the next child prodigy, and you painfully explain how your 2 year old still doesn’t sleep through the night, and they look at you with sincere sympathy, while at the same time wonder if, in fact, you are raising the next neighborhood sociopath, just walk away. And cry if you need to. Not because of you or your child, but because of them. Go with your gut. Put your own ingredients in the blender.
A little bit of humility plus a lot of love equals a great parent. You know how Forrest Gump proclaimed “My mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” Well this mama says life is like a blender. Put in your own ingredients and blend well. The best thing about this blender is that you can take the lid off whenever you need to add something. Maybe a shotgun when your daughter brings home that first and dreaded boy. Mix well. Maybe in this case, Chop well. Perhaps a prophylactic when your teenage son is convinced he has found true love. In this case, Juice well.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a warning label that reads “Do not put a child or any part of a child in this blender.” My mom missed that. She continues to drop me in like a piece of fruit, most likely with a sinister grin, and hits Crush whenever she senses opportunity. Like a flock of seagulls honing in on a single piece of torn up bread.
Let me interject here that I do not like my mother. This is a hard thing to say, and I feel a tremendous amount of guilt as I write the words. But it’s the truth. I am being blunt, and honestly I am just getting too fucking old to spare people’s feelings anymore, the people who have hurt me anyway. So there it is. No filter. I can’t stand my mother. She made her bed. I made my bed too. The difference is that I got up and made a better life, whereas she is still lying in shit. Her entire life has come crashing down around her like a castle she built out of bricks, forgetting the mortar.
My mother set out to raise me with the best intentions. Later, those intentions turned into overzealous theatrics. Now, when I think of my mother, visions of ‘Mommy Dearest’ run through my brain like currents of electricity running through wire and I can’t pull the plug fast enough. I have written about our relationship in prior stories, exposing that it is not a healthy one. I cannot remember a time when it was. The problem is that she will assume no responsibility for any of her actions, past or present. It is as though she has total amnesia. Self induced of course. Any mistakes she made, she strategically placed somewhere in her brain and she chooses not to find them. It’s like when I hide chocolate from myself, except I always remember where I put it. Of course I eat it and fess up, especially if it wasn’t mine to begin with. Possibly it’s the overuse and misuse of prescription medication that caused her amnesia. Maybe it’s the drunken mess she found herself in on the floor. Or rather, I found her in. Perhaps it’s from falling off the toilet face first onto the floor in a pill induced stupor. I have often walked up the stairs of the house for a visit with a huge knot in my stomach only to see upon answering the door that she has a matching knot on her forehead. Alcohol. Pills. Denial. Chop Well.
I received a phone call from my mother on Thanksgiving at around 4 PM. Impeccable and predictable timing on her part. I say this with sarcasm. What are most families doing at this time on this day? Enjoying a lovely dinner with their families? Maybe some wine? Football? I picked up the phone because the least I could do was say “Hello” and “I love you” on a holiday. When I say “I love you” to my mom, it feels like my body has been paralyzed from the stomach up. I can still feel my gut because there is a nagging aching in it, but my heart shuts off and my mouth stops working. I can barely get the words out. It feels forced, and only comes out if a long enough silence provokes it. Unbeknownst to her, we had celebrated Thanksgiving the previous day to accommodate work schedules. She knew exactly what she doing upon calling, which was trying to land herself right in the middle of my Thanksgiving. Like she wanted to drop right through the ceiling and make a crash landing on top of the Turkey. That’s what her interruptions usually look like. Therefore, to her surprise and disappointment, she hadn’t ruined anything. Not so much to my surprise, but definitely to my disappointment, she had tried.
I knew she was alone and felt guilty of course, so I talked to her, or rather listened, for as long as I could. She claimed she was having an emergency and cried that she needed me. I was the only person who could help. There was a time when I would have believed her. Many times I have run to her rescue only to find her crying wolf. That’s how I know when to call her on her bullshit. I know that phone call came from a place of lonliness. But that’s no excuse to manipulate me into seeing her. When it comes to my mother I have a big flashing light above my head that blinks in red, “GUILTY.” Like an open sign at the corner drug store. “Come on in and Crush away.” Her life is not my fault, but I have been trained to believe it is. She tries to bring me down with her, pulling on whatever severed piece of me she can grasp and toss down into her over used and trustworthy blender. Mother or not, that’s not acceptable. She has chopped me into pieces, and I have allowed it. I will no longer be her doormat.
I have only spoken to my mother once since Thanksgiving. I know better than to see her in person. It is a toxic cocktail that has been Liquefied beyond recognition. She ends up screaming at me, calling me names, and blaming me for the condition of her life. It turns into a near boxing match and I find myself at the bottom of her blender. So, it’s better that we just have an occasional phone conversation. This one phone call lasted approximately 3 minutes. She told me how she was doing, and before I realized (because I have learned to zone out when listening) she was blaming me for not having a family. Yes, I have moved 30 minutes away. But the other 20 plus family members have their own reasons for not speaking with her. And I know that’s not my fault. So, I calmly said “Okay mom, that’s enough. I have to go. Bye Bye.” I hung up, took a deep breath, and set my phone down. I no longer throw phones across the room when speaking with her because I now know that there is nothing I can do to fix her. I will not take responsibility for the ingredients she has put in her blender. And I certainly won’t let her put me in it anymore. I may never become Un-crushed, but I know how NOT to Crush my children.
Unconditional Love + Humility = This Mom’s ingredients. Blend well.