May 13, 2018

My Mother's Love

I had lunch today with my friend Cindy and it was my first time meeting her 4 month old grandson Jaxson. Being in the presence of this tiny, vulnerable little human has given me an entirely new spin on how to view Mother’s Day.  My relationship with my mother, who died in 2006,  was intense and complicated; fraught with emotional land mines that remain tightly tangled up in my head and my heart to this day. When Mother’s Day rolls around each year, I try to remember that my mom was a vibrant force who shaped my life and helped carve out my quirky personality.   But after being around this baby for an hour, I’m thinking about my mom in a way that I never have before.

This 21 year old woman gave me life on January 13, 1970.  She didn’t know it back then, but I broke her baby mold the day I was born – her only child whom she poured her everything into as a mom. 

I never thought about how this was the woman who made sure I was safe, warm, fed and happy. She clipped my tiny nails so I wouldn’t scratch my face.  She worried that I would stop breathing in the middle of the night. When I was a bit older, I remember she would rub my back when I was sick and vomiting in the toilet. I had lots of ear infections and colds when I was younger and she took me to all those doctor appointments with cab and bus rides all over the city because she couldn't drive.  She went after that guy at the Abdow's restaurant when he made a comment about my cute ass when I was about ten years old.  

My mother didn't have many friends so I became her best friend when I was a little girl.  It's not like I remember her having lots of conversations with me, but we spent so much time together that I wonder now what the hell we talked about so much. We would walk to Lincoln Plaza nearly every day while my dad was at work and shop for the afternoon.  On the way home, carrying bags from Zayre's Department Store, she would brag about all the things she bought me and didn't buy herself.  She always told me that she wanted her daughter to have a better life than she did growing up.

She had no problem slapping me hard across the face if I said something she didn't like and she loved slamming kitchen cabinets like a child to show me how pissed off she was at either me, my dad or my grandmother. She smoked up a chimney and drank coffee for breakfast. She slept every night with her bra on and she listened to Billy Joel records when she was depressed. She became jealous of my friends and didn't want me to grow up. 

In my teens, she tried to fit in by being one of the girls. She'd throw me lavish birthday parties and all my friends thought she was the coolest mother and all I ever wanted was for her to just leave me the hell alone.  I wanted space and distance.  I wanted to break free of her choke chain and hoped she'd get a life besides mine.

I moved out when I was 18 and couldn't get away from her fast enough. I remember the day I tried to explain to her that I just had to go. I told her we had nothing in common and I think that broke her heart.  I tried to make it up to her by visiting with her and my dad twice a week and doing everything I could to keep in touch.  I think it's around that time that I started to pretend we had this great relationship because it was easier than always fighting with her.  I couldn't stand the screaming or the drama of being her daughter.

I played my role of the good daughter up until her death in 2006. I loved her and hated her all at the same time.  I know I'm writing this on Mother's Day when everyone is celebrating their moms, but in my own way this is a celebration of what my mother meant to me.  I miss her alot and that's pretty hard to write because I've had my share of private moments when I thought that I couldn't wait to be rid of her so I could just live my life.  

I envy those of you who still have a mom that worries about you when there's a bad storm coming or you're taking a vacation on a plane somewhere and she doesn't like the thought of you being so far away from her.  Take the time to remember your mom on this special day and tell her how much you appreciate her sacrifices to grow you into the adult you've become today.  I know you didn't have a choice in the matter of being born, but remember that your mom did and she chose you.