It’s 1:41 AM, the early hours of Mother’s Day. While I should be excited about getting breakfast in bed and a day free of chores, I’m dreading the next few hours, because my mother has been blowing up both phones to lobby that I drag my family up the two hours it takes to get to Lancaster, California so she can parade us in front of her church like circus animals. She even has it choreographed. “Now when you all come in, I want you to all form a line so everyone will turn around and see you come in.”
After a snooze-fest in church service, we’ll then have to endure greasy chicken and overcooked collared greens in the Fellowship Hall as my mother literally pushes me around to all her church lady friends so she can prove she’s not been abandoned by her family, and that she must be some kind of wonderful mom to produce such a great daughter, and her genes must be magical to have such darling grandchildren. She will bask in all the attention and praise and she trots me out like a bobble she bought at the store.
She will coo over the children and call all of her friends over to look at her “light skinned” grand babies and then oscillate between ignoring them and nagging them to death. All in all, she will enjoy her Mother’s Day because we’ve all agreed to feed into her narcissism, and I will have no day at all, except to be in service to a woman who often told me that I was a slut, that my brother was better than me, that I had the devil in me, and that I wouldn’t ever amount to anything.
I have to pretend to have a relationship with a woman who literally cringes when you hug her. I have to pretend I respect a woman who scared all my friends away because she yelled and screamed at me regardless of their presence. I have to pretend to be grateful to a woman who lobbied, begged, and prayed her son into college and then didn’t even know I’d never taken the S.A.T., and never asked me about my hopes and dreams, but tried to steer me into vocations she never had the skills or talent to do herself. I was her tool.
I have to attend the very church where my mother openly humiliated me during morning worship service because I embarrassed her by not being able to get up on the piano and stand in for the choir leader and play a hymnal I’d never practiced, and blundered horribly. When I went to apologize for failing, she said, “Oh you ain’t no good! All that money I spent on piano lessons for nothing!!” I ran into the bathroom and sobbed and sobbed until my father came in to take me home. She never apologized. It has taken years of meds and therapy to overcome this woman that I have to pretend to love.
And now that my father is gone and my brother, who lives thousands of miles away and whom my mother openly favors, it is left to me to give up my Mother’s Day and entertain the whims of a vain and aging narcissist. Never mind that I’m a mom and deserve a day too. As long as my mother is alive, she thinks she’s the only mother that matters.
For those of you with mothers who didn’t tear you down and make you feel like shit, give them the hugs I can’t give to my mom. And mothers, be careful how you treat your children. When you hurt them, they don’t easily forget.