The water was boiling on the stove as I chopped up a red bell pepper and some corn for my quinoa and veggie work lunches. She was sitting at the table staring at her lottery cards and watching Real Housewives on our kitchen television. An extra large wine bottle was pulled out of the fridge. Her glass was filled to the brim.
When I’m cooking I’m happy. With her there in my presence I find it almost impossible to relax. My food is almost always under seasoned, overcooked, I drop pieces all of the floor and scramble to pick them up before she notices.
“Don’t put the flame that high. Keep it on 4 or else it will burn the pot,” she walks over to my boiling pot of water and lowers the flame.
I walk to throw an empty water bottle in our recycle bin.
“That should be crushed.”
She walks back outside, removes the plastic bottle from the bin, smashes all of the air out of it and returns it to the place where I just put it.
Trying to ease the mood, I shared something personal with her.
“I had a dream last night about my ex-boyfriend. The psychic told me the reason I can’t find anyone is because I’m not over him.”
“I could have told you that. You didn’t have to go to a psychic to figure that out.”
“In my dream he was sitting alone on a bench. I asked him if he was happy and he didn’t respond, but he smiled. I told him I was happy and I smiled. Then I closed the door and walked away.”
She didn’t speak for a while.
“I’ll never forget that one time I met ‘Mr. Green Jeans’ when he came here for Christmas. He kept on rubbing your back.”
She got up from her chair and walked to the dining room table putting on her best performance. Mocking her daughter and her ex-boyfriend with animated rubbing movements. As she went on with her perspective, she grew louder.
“The guy was so hungry you wouldn’t let him eat anything!! People love my food! You wouldn’t let him eat it. He saw you getting agitated and he rubbed your back. You were getting all worked up and he just kept sitting there rubbing your back like you were a baby. Babies would fall asleep after being rubbed like that. I WANT MY HUSBAND TO RUB MY BACK LIKE HE DID.”
The dishes couldn’t sparkle enough. I scalded myself with hot soapy water, trying to tune her out. Not allowing her to get under my skin and controlling my self worth. Just observing her and the way she reacts and behaves.
“HOW DARE HE. COME TO MY HOUSE AND RUB MY DAUGHTER’S BACK LIKE THAT. WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS. I DON’T KNOW WHAT WENT ON AT HIS HOUSE WHEN YOU WERE ALWAYS OVER THERE. ALL I REMEMBER IS SEEING THAT BLACK CAR OUTSIDE. YOU MAY AS WELL BEEN DATING SOMEONE FROM FACEBOOK OR CRAIGSLIST. I DIDN’T KNOW HIM.”
The way she was screaming hurt my ears. It was at such a high decibel. I was sure the next day she wouldn’t have much of a voice left.
“…and your Aunt wanted to have him over for hors d’oeuvres? HOW DARE SHE!!”
“He didn’t ever go over there so why does it matter now? That was more than two years ago.”
“YEAH BECAUSE I MADE A FUSS AND PUT AN END RIGHT TO THAT. THAT’S WHY.”
The hits kept on coming. The argument escalated. She just kept on screaming so loud right next to my face while I stood there trying to clean up my dishes and get prepped for my work week so I could go upstairs and get away from her. I had to endure her hissy fit for what felt like forever. I tried to reason to her and to tell her my side.
“YOU’RE A VICTIM. ALWAYS A VICTIM. I AM THE MOTHER. I AM THE HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD. YOU THINK YOU ARE BUT YOU ARE NOT. EVER SINCE YOU WENT TO THAT COLLEGE YOU HAVEN’T BEEN THE SAME.”
I try and rationalize with her but each time I say something she twists my words or doesn’t understand what I am trying to say. It’s like she just wants to continue to take everything out on me.
“If you want a better relationship with me you should speak to me with respect instead of screaming in my face. This is not an effective way to get me to ‘take your side.”
“YOU WANT ME TO RESPECT YOU?! I AM THE MOTHER YOU NEED TO RESPECT ME!!!! ARE YOU HEARING ME DO YOU HEAR ME?! I AM GOING TO KICK YOU OUT OF THIS HOUSE AND IF YOUR FATHER DOESN’T LET ME I’M GOING TO MAKE YOU GO.”
I practice yoga. I surround myself with good people. I exercise, I eat healthy. I am close with my younger sister. I create positive relationships with other members of my family and I try to be a considerate and a good person. I would love to be able to move out and escape this life, but it’s hard financially and emotionally for me to take that step. To run away from home would mean that I would be giving in to her and what she wants.
At this stage in my life, I no longer care whether or not I have my mother’s unconditional love. I know that it is something she is incapable of giving. People say they feel sorry for me. I don’t want their pity. My life could be far worse. I have many things to be grateful for, but having a nice relationship with my mother will never be one of those things I will ever long for.