My mother had me late in life. She was 40. My father was 30. I can’t imagine being a parent at 30; I can’t imagine being a parent now at 33—although in some ways, I am, but not really. It’s weird. Most of my rearing was done by my mother. She was the strict one. My dad, on the other hand, was gone during the week on business. Of course, me being his only daughter, allowed for some leeway, shall we say, unless the situation warranted yelling, like when I crashed his car—more than once.
I don’t have many memories of my mom. Our relationship was never exceptional. We went shopping a lot. Our bonding took place in Z, L or U-shaped malls. We would spend hours walking around, perusing major department stores in search of I don’t know what, nor can I remember what. I can’t recall a single conversation that we might have had. I can’t even remember what she sounded like when she spoke English.
“That looks nice on you….”
That sounds strange.
Last Thursday, my therapist asked me to tell her about my early relationship with my mom. I didn’t understand the question. You mean, like what we talked about or what we did? We went to the mall and shopped.
Did you enjoy that or was it for her?
I think I enjoyed it. I like shopping.
What came out of that back and forth was that my mom, in all likelihood never really understood me, nor I her. She raised me as she saw fit. A good Catholic girl. To that end, she never really took the time to know why I didn’t want to attend catechism classes or participate in a particular activity. She did what she thought was best, while in the process never giving me much of an opportunity to develop on my own—to formulate certain opinions (might explain my need to constantly apologize or in some cases, wait to see what other people think before sharing my views), to express myself as most pre-teens or tweens or whatever that age group is called with fashion, hair or even music (my friend natalie’s favorite memory of my mom is the one where she cut out the skull where my idol Axl Rose’s hand was resting… my second attempt to cut the cord; my first attempt to just be me involved a Bon Jovi tape a few years earlier—my mom made me destroy it after she heard the word “devil” in one of the songs…. this could be construed as a slight Fuck You, but I occasionally listen to “Blaze of Glory” in my car…. bad, bad ass). I was never rebellious. I never sassed off—OK, maybe a handful of times…. oh, I did throw a plastic chair in the pool during a fit of depression/anger. I went to my room to cool off. Then I cried. I never stayed out late. My mother told me that sex was only good for the man, so I never dated (let alone put out) in high school, preferring instead to stay home and watch the X-Files on a Friday night. The idea of kissing a boy actually horrified me. My poor prom date had to practically force a kiss out of me—actually, he held something of mine for ransom in his trunk. I was coerced.
So here I am today. Afraid of dying alone, and childless to boot. I am scared of being abandoned, of having no close family to speak of to support me and invite me over for those smaller holidays like Flag Day. My dad’s family lives in Minnesota and my mom’s live mostly in Ecuador…….. and even at those occasional reunions, I just don’t feel like I fit in. I want to fit in. I want to belong to something bigger than myself. I suppose I long for a life that isn’t my life;”longing” that’s my shrink’s word…. but I suppose it’s accurate. I long for a traditional family. I long for laughter and family gatherings. I long and crave understanding. A mother who gets me. A mother who appreciates my peccadilloes. A mom who can openly talk to me about life, love and all that stuff that I envision mothers and daughters talk about. I long for something that does not exist, nor will it ever exist. It’s a fantasy that I’ve held on to and I am working on letting go—at $40 a pop. My new mantra, I’m OK and will be OK and this is my reality.
I don’t hate my mom. I know she raised me with so much love and for that I’m lucky and blessed. Certainly, some days I feel conflicted. Here I am raising her… trying to allow her to be who she wants to be and to not force what is PC on her because it makes some stranger more comfortable with her disease. I have no idea if I’m doing a very good job. Ironically, I take her shopping. I take her to Target and to Payless. We’re shoe shopping. I just wish she would wear a pair of Uggs! So easy! We walk around and she spits on the floor. She’s not as patient, but it’s all we have left.