My mother is not a mother to me like a television mother. She’s more like a friend, a friend of a friend even. She’s the friend whose phone number you always lose on “accident.”
When I was young, I used to idolize the kids on TV, especially the commercials. Television mothers were feeding their children Hot Pockets and Pepperoni Bagel Bites and helping them wash it down with Sunny Delight.
We were eating ground beef and noodles again. I wanted my Pepperoni Bagel Bites so that I could smile like the kids on TV. All those kids seemed pretty happy, and I wanted to be happy too! I wanted a television mother.
The two of us see each other about once a year, and in between visits, she’s slowing turning into a recluse. She’s isolating from the world because she’s too afraid to forgive herself.
I get sad when I think about her, I never smile. I’m not sure if I even love her. I know I sympathize with her, but that doesn’t make talking to her any easier.
When she calls me, her depression oozes through the other end of the phone and permeates my cheek, leaving me depressed within seconds.
I just want to scream at her. She’s come so far; over ten years sober, abuse survivor, a suicide survivor and life survivor. Why is she letting herself rot from the inside out while her coffee grows cold next to the cell phone that I never call?
Even though I get mad at her, she and I are one in the same, so I have to respect her insanity. I am her flesh and her blood, so I am just as fucked up as she is. And as sure as the sky is blue, I’m just like her. I am her crazy second son.
I’ve too let myself rot from the inside out, and life’s not fun while sitting in your own glue.
I want her to get better. I used to want her to die. One day when I was a kid, the two of us came out of a Spanish restaurant, and she started to choke right in front of the restaurant, and this was after we ate.
I watched as she fell to the floor on top of one of those metal grates on the street that led to the basement below the store. I just stood silent and still and watched on as she choked; I would not care if she had died, I told myself. Eventually, as she laid there on the cold New York City pavement, someone came over and helped her get the food out of her throat. I was more let down than excited that she had lived.
I hope she doesn’t read this, but this is my therapy. I can’t talk to her and admit such things as the choking incident. I’m afraid to hurt her feelings; I hate watching her cry. It brings me back to the worse moments in my childhood, crippling me right in my tracks.
I can only muster up the courage to ask her such PG-13 questions like,
“Why did you buy me my first pack of cigarettes when I was barely a teenager?”
Today, she presently lives in the past, surrounded by her two overfed cats who seek her affection for food, while she feeds them for affection.
It’s a death circle of bullshit love, but her cats are her friends, and they must be fed. At this point in her life, I fear that she is incapable of getting any better. I am afraid that she will sit in her room adjacent to the room where her estranged second husband hides until she fades away.
And if she does fade away before she meets my children who have not been conceived yet, what will I tell them about the woman who I knew nothing about?
I know nothing about my mother beside the bad things. I won’t tarnish her image like that, but I am already at a loss of words.
She is an impossible puzzle.
Read part 2 here.