Yesterday the Baptist yelled at me for allowing Olivia to run around and jump in rain puddles. As she sat hollering at her daughter to not sit down or step in the water I sat giggling at the joy on Olivia’s face as she hurtled herself back and forth across the parking lot leaping and splashing in the puddles.
“You ARE aware that she is playing in water,” she says to me with a look of bewilderment on her face.
“Oh, you mean she’s having FUN???” I ask. “Yes. She is allowed to have fun.”
I had put Olivia in old pants and a heavy rain coat and let her go to town but the Baptists wasn’t having it. The result was her daughter standing down there having a temper tantrum because she wanted to play with Olivia but her mama wouldn’t let her. It was sad.
I don’t understand these types of parents. I don’t see why this sort of thing is such a big deal. Sure, Olivia got wet but we came upstairs and her clothing was removed and put in the wash machine. Nothing was ruined and she didn’t catch pneumonia and die and she had a blast. What’s so bad about that?
Some parents are so finicky. Mine sort of were but only to the extent that they had play clothes for me and made me do that shit like make my bed every morning and all that crap. As a kid I used to argue with my parents that there was no reason to make my bed considering that in just a few hours it would be unmade and then slept in again.
I still argue that point except that there is no one here to tell me to make the beds and so no one does. I learned a long time ago that there are bigger things to worry about than making a bed. How much time in your life is wasted by doing these stupid and unnecessary tasks?
My mother used to do a lot of things that I thought were a waste of time and now that she is older and looks back on her life, I think a part of her agrees. She was always that woman who would bleach the mini blinds one little blind at a time where as I am the person who will leave them all dusty for a few weeks and then flip them all flat and sort of wave a dust rag at them. If they look grubby then they’ll get washed but I’m not going to clean something that isn’t dirty.
My mother also had a firm belief that floors were to be done Cinderella style down on your hands and knees. I don’t think she has ever owned a mop in her life. I spent every Saturday growing up on my knees on the dark slate floor in our house with a bucket of water and a scrub brush and my knees paid dearly for it. I fantasized about ways to scrub the floors without causing my knees such an ordeal, sometimes dreaming of attaching scrub brushes to my feet and sometimes imagining those awesome dancing mops in Fantasia.
I had a lot of chores while growing up. Some of the more bizarre chores included picking up the dog shit in the backyard which I found to be demoralizing and disgusting especially once I got older and started my romantic fling with the neighbor kid. Their kitchen window faced our backyard and I was mortified that they would see me out there with my plastic wonder bread bag and the spade my mom reserved for dog shit duty. But it had to be done and as the youngest member of the family I got stuck with it as that’s how the chain of command works.
In front of our house there was a crab apple tree and it would drop massive amounts of crab apples on the ground. My dad would send me out there with a bucket and make me pick them all up. Hundreds and hundreds of crab apples hitting the bottom of that bucket until it was full and me crawling around on my knees once again making sure I didn’t miss a single one. I wonder now how many hours I spent searching out those crab apples.
Truth be told, I didn’t mind the crab apples too much because my daddy was the one who asked me to do it. I would have jumped off the roof had he so requested. My dad was the complete opposite of my mom in every way and as a child I used to have to breathe deeply and rationalize with myself, “she must have been something special for him to have married her.” and I accepted her simply because she was married to my dad. It was a rather strange way for a child to think about her mom.
She wasn’t all bad, though. My mom did have some extremely good qualities that I truly miss. I enjoyed my outings with her as we were always alone and she did do a lot of things with me. She took me to a pumpkin patch every year and craft fairs and out to lunch a whole hell of a lot. We could have been such wonderful friends had she not made me hate myself so much. It was a roller coaster ride, for sure.
My mother was always supportive of my history. She supported my decision to hunt down my biological family and bought gifts for me to give to my sisters. The one thing she could never bring herself to do for me was to visit with my biological mother and I could tell it hurt her that I was so close with her. I could always hear tears in my mom’s voice when I talked to her about Minnie, my bio mom. I would hear her supportive words and they would be laced with bitterness and I understood completely where she was coming from. I would feel the same way.
You know what’s funny? I have no relationship whatsoever with my mom these days. We are so completely estranged that we don’t speak. In the past three years, the only time we’ve spoken was while I was pregnant with Emi and had just had the bomb dropped on me that I had a tumor and would have to have surgery, that I might have cancer. I did that thing that happens to people sometimes where you simply revert back to being a child and you just want your mother so badly. I think I called her and I sobbed out all of my fears for Emi and for my other children and she was the wonderful mother again for that brief phone call. She knew I was scared and I could hear that she was scared.
But in all these years of estrangement I have never once called my biological mother “mom”. There are vast differences in my relationships to each woman. Minnie is poor and damaged, had five children who were all lost to her in the turmoil of her abusive relationships. Out of all of the five of us kids under her, I am the smart one, the beautiful one, the one with the head on her shoulders. I’m not in jail or psychotic and I have sense to me and Minnie has always been extremely proud of me for doing so well against the odds of someone in my shoes.
Then, there is Sue, my MOM who I haven’t spoken to. She hurts me with her words and makes me feel less than worthy of her and she makes it very well known that I will never be good enough for her especially in comparison of my three older brothers. I left her at 16 years old and moved far away and yet… she is the one I consider my mother.
Maybe it’s because I understand that mothers and daughters often disagree even to extremes sometimes. I’m not blind to her greatness… I simply can’t live with the negative. I wish I could please her and my inability to has torn at me for so long that I had to let go before I crumbled completely. Do I think that her words were sometimes meant to be scathing and painful? Yes. But I also know that she loved me very much and truly wanted to do what she thought was best for me. I will never deny her that.
I wish that my best was good enough for her. I am haunted by the fact that my children are without an extended family because I couldn’t deliver the goods. They will never have what I had with family get togethers, barbeques, hugely festive holidays. Those were some of the best times of my life and even though there was sadness and disappointment sprinkled throughout, it was good, too.
When it was good, it was great and when it was bad, it was awful. Now, it is nothing and nothing seems much worse.