*This is a long post… It’s just that I’m trying to clear my head about a few things.
I had a conversation with a co-worker before Thanksgiving that had me thinking about a few of my ways. We ended up talking about the Thanksgiving Holidays, and what we would be doing, etc.
“So, is your Mother coming over for Thanksgiving?”
“Nope,” I said. “I really don’t fool with her too tough.”
“Awww, you should invite your mother over for Thanksgiving.”
“No, it’s not gong down like that.”
The problem is that I don’t get along with my mother. I haven’t had to deal with her much over the past couple of years because she has had a boyfriend, who eventually became her husband. And when she has a man, well, everyone else is dirt on the ground.
I don’t have a problem with that. Hey, it’s your life, do your thang. The problems begin when she don’t have a man. All of a sudden she wants to be around family. For years, it has been a vicious cycle that has really worn me out. Before this last man, she was Mother of the year. Just like before and after every trifling man.
I knew there was a problem when I first met (very reluctantly) this last man of hers. When he spoke, his breath smelled rank with alcohol. And not that little, “Oh, I just drink a little every now and then” alcohol breath. It was more of a “I’m a lifelong card carrying alcoholic” breath.
Then one day, when I went to pick up my little brother, she was all gussied up. She said, “Yeah, Lee, take the boy with you, and get him some stuff together so he can spend the night with you.”
Uh-oh, I thought to myself. Here we go again. Just when everything was alright, she hooks up with some ingrate with a WHOLE bunch of problems.
Again, I have no problem with this. It’s her life. If she wants to get involved with some fool, then she’s grown. Go right ahead and do it. But the problem is she wants others to validate her decisions. And sorry, I can’t validate her usual choices of men: those who are between jobs, on drugs, and alcoholics. What usually happens is that I stay the hell out of the way…
But I couldn’t do that this time. It was early April, and my brother and I had started a vegetable garden in the backyard. So I was basically stuck with going over there and keeping that up. At the same time, my brother, who was fifteen at the time, had a strong feeling that mother’s new man didn’t want him around. I only lived three miles away, so I made sure to stop by and spend as much time with him as possible. Mother had a new man, you see. Her kids became dirt on the ground.
I didn’t like Mother’s new man. Whenever I was having a conversation with my mother (whether in person or on the phone), he would butt in. He wasn’t a sorry wuss like mother’s other men. This dude was sorry, loud, and trifling.
Well anyway, my brother and I got the garden going good, and mother’s new dude, who had moved in with her, decided he wanted some tomato plants of his own. To make a long story short, he was trying to compete with me and my brother. We made sport of ignoring him. Mother didn’t like that. We were suppose to treat this man like his name was Jesus. That was not going down.
My brother made sure to keep the guy’s tomato plants watered and fertilized, since the guy was trifling as hell, and wasn’t really keeping up with his own plants. Soon, the tomato plants produced a bunch of tomatoes.
One day during the summer, my brother and I had been out tending the garden. It had gotten to a point where the garden was producing. We were picking vegetables on a regular basis.
“Get a tomato, Lee,” my brother suggested.
“Boy are you crazy? I ain’t touching that dude’s stuff.”
“Shoot girl, we been using our own fertilizer, and watering his stuff. There are a whole lot of them out here. Get one.” He picked a tomato off the plant and threw it in my basket. We continued picking other vegetables.
Well, Mother’s man noticed that a tomato was missing. (I’m still trying to figure out how Oldboy spotted one tomato out of at least upwards of a hundred tomatoes was missing.)
To make a long story short, I got accused of stealing. I was thinking to myself, “Damn Ma, as much as I make sure you have extra money in your pocket, etc., you just turn on me and accuse me of stealing?”
I told my brother, “NOW you understand why I stay the hell away from here when she has a boyfriend.”
I think my brother gained a little understanding that day.
I lived only three miles from her, so I went home, got the tomato, and brought it back to her house.
She was still talking smack. That was cool. I know I don’t steal, so whatever. I ignored her as usual. I called my Aunt and let her know what happen, just in case my mother decided to drag my name through the dirt with the family. At the same time, I was very angry with myself for getting caught up in such madness. I full well knew that she treated her men as if they were God Almighty. And pure damnation to all who didn't do the same.
I would drive over to my mother’s house on weekday mornings to pick up my brother. He was taking summer school classes and he would catch a ride with me in the mornings so that we could catch the train together. The morning after mother had accused me of stealing, I stopped by, as usual, to pick up my brother. She was in the kitchen making a cake or something.
“Hey Ma,” I said while looking up the steps towards my brother’s room.
She was quiet. She just looked at me. I sat on the steps leading up to the upstairs part of the house. My brother ran downstairs past me and into the kitchen to grab something to eat before we left.
She started in on me again. Just cussed me out. She could not just let it go! I snapped, and ended up getting loud right back with her (which is something TOTALLY out of character for me). To this day, I don’t remember what I said to her. I remember screaming back at her. She threw stuff at me. We tried to run up on each other. My brother had to get in between us. I ran upstairs to the master bedroom and went off on her boyfriend. It scared my brother to death. I remember calming down when I saw how upset he was getting.
My brother ended up grabbing me up and shuffling me out of the house before Ma got too crunk. (She was still trying to get at me.) We got in the car. My brother and I were quiet all the way to the train station.
She ended up writing a letter to me the next day. She said she was sorry for things getting out of hand, but I should stop playing games, etc….
Okay… this confused me. Like I have time to sit around playing trifling games…whatever. Why don’t I just stay out of her way? I had to still go over to help my brother with the garden, though.
Fast forward to now. I simply don’t deal with her. I can’t deal with the stress of having to watch what I say to her, or having to deal with her wanting me to bow down and worship her substandard men. Over this time, she has had a habit of dogging me out to my brother and sister, which I find a bit distrurbing. Yet she smiles in my face when she sees me. This again leaves me deeply disturbed.
But now, she has divorced that fool, after less than a year of marriage. And now she wants to act like nothing ever happened.
This is where my issues with forgiveness come into question. I’ve been through this type of scenario with my mother a few times over the years, usually all over some trifling man. (I remember, at age 21, packing my stuff in plastic bags and sleeping on a friend’s couch for the summer. Ma got an attitude with me because she felt I did not speak in the proper tone to her 26 year old boyfriend, who happen to be living with us. I never moved back home. I started graduate school and got my own place.)
I really feel that I don’t want her to be a part of my life, and I don’t want to be a part of hers.
Gasp! But Ladylee, that’s your mother!
I know that…
The problem is that I have had a lot of peace when not having to deal with my mother’s drama. She is a constant complainer, especially when she doesn’t have a man, and it just emotionally drains me. I've found myself depressed when dealing with her for any length of time. My life has been relatively crisis free, and she frowns upon that. I have to admit that all my life, my relationship with my mother has been superficial at best. I don’t remember going to her for help with anything I was going through on a personal level. I always confided in my friends or their mothers or my aunt. There were just times when I needed straight up help or advice with personal issues, and I didn’t trust my mother to take care of those needs.
I have always kept my private life from her. I remember one time, when I was twenty, she asked me if I was a lesbian. I was real happy that day because I was dating a couple of guys at the time, and I saw that I had done a bang-up job of keeping my love life a secret from her. That meant I could get my swerve on without her judgements about it. I never, to this day, discussed my divorce with her. And I think I had been divorced for a whole year before she ever found out about it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m cordial. I spent half a day with her at my brother’s Army graduation a couple of weeks ago. Incidently, she had been whining to my brother and sister about how I should share a hotel room with her. That was out of the question for me. Why do you want to share a room with me? You care nothing about me. I expected her to throw a fit over it, but she didn’t. She just talked about me behind my back. So what…
She’s been to my new home. I remember her smiling broadly and saying, “Lee, I’m so proud of you!” And I remember looking at her and thinking to myself, “Stop fronting like you give a damn about me or anything I do.”
Around Thanksgiving, my sister and brother were a little puzzled by the fact that I wasn’t inviting her to my house for Thanksgiving. I’m already not the biggest fan of the Holiday season. My Aunt was coming by with her husband, and my Grandma was also coming over. (My mother and Aunt don’t get along AT ALL. And mother can’t stand the fact that we go to our Aunt with our problems, if we need advice, or if we just need to just plain outright confess some ish.) This has been our usual small family gathering over the past few years. Mother made a big deal out of not being invited, and I thought about just inviting her, and spending my time in my room. But I figured that I just bought my home, and I wanted to be comfortable in my own home, where I pay the mortgage. So I didn’t bother inviting her.
So I don’t know if I’m walking in unforgiveness. I don’t know if I am wrong for being cordial, yet keeping her at arms length. All I know is that I am simply being myself, who I am. It’s just that I can’t stand drama, and she absolutely loves drama. I feel like I would be a full fledge liar if I grinned in her face and acted as if everything was alright. I, Ladylee, am not a big fan of phoniness. I have no desire to do what my much younger brother and sister are doing: trying to catch mother’s love and attention while she is between men. (And trust me, they better catch it quick before the next derelict arrives on the scene.)
This is something I’ve prayed about, because I need a mother’s love. It’s just that it has never been my style to fake the funk with people, even my own mother. And I feel like she is doing that with me…
My brother and sister and I have discussed this at length. “My mother does not love or care for me, and I will not be sitting in her face saying what she wants to hear or stroking her ego. We all know if any of us say one thing wrong, a big fight will break out. And I’m sorry, I’m not going to live my life in that type of bondage to anybody, not even my own mother.”
"No Lee, that ain't true!!!!!" my brother wailed. They were a little upset with me, needles to say.
But that is the very gist of what I feel right now.
People say that I need to work on forgiveness. They say I hold grudges. I’m that way on the job. If you stab me in my back, or knowingly get me caught up in some craziness, and you don’t apologize, then I’m through with you. I’m cordial, and I’ll help you on the job, but don’t expect me to cheese in your face, and you’ll do good not to come fake the funk in my face. Don't expect me to be hanging at your house or sit down and shoot the breeze with you. Phoniness is not my thing. It's just not in me.
I feel like I have forgiven my mother (have I?), but I choose to keep her at arm’s length (like it has been most of my life). It would be phony of me to pretend that everything is alright, though. Like nothing has ever happened.
I'm not looking for agreement, ego-stroking, disagreement, or chastisement here. I'm just trying to work this thing out, get it off my chest, you know. Just writing my feelings out right now has helped me figure some things out...
Looking for the right way to go about things with myself... and with my mother...
Something I will continue to work on and think about…