In hushed excitement, I called you from the office in the after-hours trembling with good news. I was bursting with joy and ready to pour gratitude upon you with promises of extravagant mother-daughter lunch outings; to chirp happily, once again your proud little girl holding up her kindergarten drawing, to her one and only mother.
But the moment you picked up, your voice wavering, I knew the call wouldn’t unfold as I imagined it.
I hear it in your wary tone, the symptomatic drawl and unnatural pauses.
“Yeah? Why did you call?”
“Mom I got a job promotion. I’m not an intern anymore, I’m a manager now.”
(A pregnant silence that seemed to stretch forever)
“Oh, that’s good.”
“I’m so happy now. I can’t believe it.”
“You didn’t even call me on Christmas, or New Year’s Eve, why haven’t you called? I was worried.”
And down the spiral we go, tumbling through emotional mis-matches and perpetually bumping each other down the abyss.
I called you mom, but you didn’t pick up. I left a voice message, but you didn’t call back. I felt bad for not trying harder but I thought you’d call me back when you saw my missed calls. I felt bad about the increasing rift between us since I left the nest almost three years ago. I felt bad for experiencing my first, ever-holy traditional Christmas with my boyfriend’s wonderful family under the decked pine tree, without you, away from you.
But could you blame me? We never celebrated holidays in the traditional sense, our nuclear family has always been wildly independent, always doing our individual things. I wanted a Christmas tree, the Christmas ham, the whole shebang, but you and dad were too busy working to build a life for me to do anything beyond cursory dinners outside and a gift of what I requested. I’m extremely blessed, to have that, but I wanted uninterrupted, happy, functional family time, not that. So could you blame me for spending my holidays away from you, in a safe and loving environment where I feel whole and healthy, for once?
Oh and the drinking, that is a big problem too. I don’t have the emotional capacity to maturely handle your drunkenness when we do meet up. I don’t like you drunk. You’re not mean, but you’re not logical and not in the right sense of mind when you’re inebriated. I want you to still take care of me, your bumbling daughter, while I’m still figuring out this thing called life. Soon the time will come to reverse our roles and I will be your caretaker, but before then, I need to grow. I need to figure out my life, myself, and my path. I’m still young and frankly stupid and immature, and overwhelmed by biochemical impulses of budding senescence.
Soon the time will come to reverse our roles and I will be your caretaker, but before then, I need to grow.
I need you, mom. I don’t need you to hold my hand, but I need a maternal presence watching over me, fretting over me not dressing warmly enough, and reassuring me that things are and will be okay. I can’t take care of you right now, I’m just beginning to take care of myself. I know that I’m blessed with the evolving society and community support to be more empowered than you ever were at my age, but I still need you – whole, happy and strong.
Most of all, I know you did your best, as all misguided parents do. Your mother was stricter, more controlling, and more volatile, and you’ve exerted every effort, to the best of your ability and resources, to be a better mother to me. And you have been a better mother. But generational evolution can only be so much, with each succeeding parent slightly improving upon what they grew up with.
Mom, I know you need me now, as you feel increasingly alone and frustrated with the years that seem to hurtle forward, but I need you too. Most of all, I need myself the most above anything. I need to learn to love and take care of myself before I can love and take care of you. I know you’re mad at me and you’ve, like many times during our stupid arguments, asserted that you’ve disowned me – but I know that we can repair “us”.
Give me time, please be patient as I stumble through the process of bettering myself. Someday we will meet in the middle, whole, perfect, (in our skewed sense of the word), and be inseparable.