My friends hug me as the teachers wave good-bye. Everyone is smiling. The lights are yellow and there’s lots of bright primary colors all around. I tilt my head back to look up and see my pretty Mama smiling down on me- her dark short, curly hair; her thick red lips; her big pointy boobs. She’s holding my hand. We walk out of the big red door, out of my preschool. We exit the building and turn the corner and walk home, hand in hand.
When I ask my mom about this memory flash in present day, and ask if she walked me to and from preschool or if we took a car, she says she doesn’t remember. That we probably walked.
She doesn’t remember a lot about when I was a kid. It used to upset me when I would ask about something- anything- and she would say, “I don’t remember.” How could my own mother not remember milestones from my life? I’m her baby.
But then I think about the person she was during the memories that I have that aren’t just flashes… You know, the tattooed memories. And I think that she doesn’t remember because she drank the memories away.
I wish I had the guts to ask her when it started- her love of alcohol, her love of partying. Is it why she wanted to divorce my father when I was 9? I’m pretty certain it’s why she was a shitty mother, at least it’s the reason I tell myself to keep civil with her today.
But we don’t talk about it.
We don’t talk about the shitty times. We don’t talk about living without electricity at times, while having to heat water up on the stove to take a bath during other times. We don’t talk about drinking milk composed of powder and water. We don’t talk about moving from shitty apartment to shitty apartment. We don’t talk about how she made me fend for myself at an incredibly young age. We don’t talk about how she made me go to four different high schools. We don’t talk about how she was never there for me. We don’t talk about the number of times she was passed out in front of the TV with a cigarette butt still trapped between her fingers and a trail of ashes that was once tobacco and paper leading to the overflowing ashtray on the arm of the floral loveseat. We don’t talk about how I never had any friends. We don’t talk about the times she took me to bars with her when I was a teenager. We don’t talk about the multiple men she brought into her home, into her bed. We don’t talk about the retched smell from alcohol, sex, vomit, what-have-you that filled the air of our home more than not. We don’t talk about the lack of care she had for anything or anyone other than alcohol and sex.
We don’t talk about it.
I mean, really, what’s the point? Why dredge it all up? What can possibly happen by bringing it all up?!
Besides, I haven’t a clue if she’d even remember half the shit that I remember from those days. I’m guessing not. I’m guessing she’d still be drinking herself into oblivion every night if she did remember; I don’t think anyone strives to be a shitty drunk of a mom one day.
Fortunately she finally grew up around the turn of the century. She still drank but nothing at all like what she was doing when I was growing up, when *I* was supposed to be the teenager instead of the mom. And today, she doesn’t really drink much at all. Thankfully.
I wish I had the guts to ask her about that too- why she finally stopped drinking. But I guess if I did, then all the other stuff would come up. And… I just don’t really want to go there.
Instead, I try to focus on the good: She’s been a great fan of my marriage, she’s madly in love with my Lovie, she’s there for my ailing grandmother.
She’s not perfect. She still has her moments when I want to shake the stupid teenage mindset out of her and remind her that she’s going to be 65 this year. She still relies far too much on others to lift her up- emotionally, financially. But at least she doesn’t repulse me the way she did when I was younger, when I had very little respect for her, when she showed me things at a young age that one shouldn’t see.
I mean, I still don’t respect her much as a Mother and I still get sickened by some of my memories, but she doesn’t repulse me anymore. She’s a human being. With flaws. Like anyone else. She was a super shitty mother in my eyes, but … I can also take that and turn it around and ensure that I’m nothing like that. I can take those shitty times and strive for more, so much more- for my Lovie.
I don’t think my mom didn’t love me, I’m certain she did. I just don’t think she loved being a Mom. And that… sucks ass when you’re the kid.
Fortunately Lovie won’t ever know that Mom. Fortunately Lovie won’t have any memories like mine.
I guess I have my mom to thank for that- and that’s why we don’t talk about the past. Because while it wasn’t the greatest, we’re both still here today. And now there’s Lovie, too. And if it meant re-living that life with that shitty mom 100 times, I’d do it just to be where I am today with my Lovie.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.
I never could give you a sappy card on Mother’s Day because I just never felt that way. But we both made it through so thank you for that. I do love you and I am glad you’re in my life.