I was told that when my parents offer me an invitation to get angry, I should politely decline the offer. I have that right. I have the right to say “no”.
But every time the invitation arrives, hand delivered, I cannot reject it. My temper flares. My head gets hot. My voice rises to a pre-pubescent octave that takes me back to, well, the worst years of my life.
Every year, I spend a month or so living with my parents. It’s a deal we worked out so that I’d have somewhere to live when my life hit the skids a year and a half ago. It was the worst decision the three of us have ever made and we all admit this… now. But at the time, they were saving their kid who needed saving. I was saving my parents who needed saving, as well.
Tonight, two weeks into their stay and a night before they leave for a month at the beach, my mom and I sat down for a talk. All we do is talk — heavy, dark talks about my parents’ failed marriage and my father’s impending death. We talked for 30 minutes about the pragmatics of her leaving. I was really excited that we had gotten somewhere.
I stood up to clean the kitchen and turned around to see she had taken out of her closet a pile of my “fat clothes” that I had asked her to donate last year. “Jane, why don’t you take a look through these?” Mom! I told you to donate those! “But since you’ve gained 8 lbs, I thought…”
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! DID YOU REALLY JUST SAY THAT!? HAVE YOU EVER MET ME? DID YOU REALLY JUST OFFER TO GIVE ME BACK MY FAT CLOTHES BECAUSE I’VE GAINED SOME WEIGHT?!!! REALLY!!
I lost it. Again. I know this is broken record stuff for you all: I have no ability to control my rage with her. But my goodness… I struggle every day with my weight and everyone I know knows enough not to ever mention that I’ve gained weight – even with the best of intentions. It’s such a raw, open sore. It’s such a gaping wound. The other wound is her inability to trust my decisions about things I want to discard. I really didn’t want that stuff. I promise you. I promised her, too.
Stop me if I’ve told you this one (I dare you): When I was in FL for “vacation”, she asked me to go through a box of childhood stuff. Granted, she had to ask me twice, but when I finally took up the task, I picked out a few things I wanted and told her I was done. That night, I came home and saw that she had laid the contents of the aforementioned box out on the bathroom counter. Because when I said I was done the first time, clearly I was mistaken.
Growing up she’d go through my trash, too. She had no reason not to trust me, but she didn’t. It’s an awful feeling for a good kid to have her privacy violated like that. If your trash isn’t sacred, what is? I never lost it. The feeling of mistrust from my mom. The feeling of never being heard. Never been listened to.
I think the pain parents inflict comes from a deeper place than other kinds of pain. It comes from a place that is so primal it is impossible to fight against. It’s a reaction, not a decision, for me to snap at her. And I never once stop and think about it from my mom’s perspective. I never once stop to think she means absolutely no hard. The Cultural Contributor said it best: She’s like a puppy. She is so sweet and has the best intentions but sometimes she pees on the carpet. And you can’t hate her for it. But I come after her with a rolled-newspaper of anger and that is absolutely awful.
I apologize to my mom more now than ever. I apologize almost every day for losing my temper and not treating her the way she deserves to be treated by someone in her life. Sometimes it seems as though she is doing everything in her power to piss me off but I don’t think, deep down, that she has the emotional or mental capacity to do that. I think she just doesn’t know better.
Anyone who has ever met my mom loves her for one reason or another. Everyone has a Jane’s Mom story. The CC especially. I just need to learn that it’s better to say no to her invitation to get angry now and then than to never be invited to a party again. I can’t afford to lose her, especially not when I may lose my dad before his time. In the meantime, apologies and hugs will have to do.
A mother’s love is something I may never understand from my mom’s perspective, but I respect her more for loving me than I do for everything else she’s ever done.