“I’m your mother!”
We’ve seen it countless times on TV. What usually happens in a “normal” home during an argument. A phrase very often overlooked and taken without much question.
Picture this scene in your head.
MOTHER: “Get back here! Don’t talk to me like that. I’m your mother!”
SLAM! We see a distressed teen leaning against her bedroom door.
DAUGHTER: “Ugh, I hate you! Leave me alone!”
Her mom, most likely, asked about her whereabouts or, maybe, caught her texting during dinner. Her mother is upset but coming from a place of love. They’ll both have a tough time falling asleep, but, when the morning comes, all will be ok.
I’ve experienced something like this before. Here’s my version.
Imagine a happy and playful tone. “I’m your motherrrrr.”
This is not the typical “listen to me because I gave birth to you” conversation that follows an argument. Instead, it’s a voicemail left on my phone after months of no contact. “Call meeee. I love you.” Beep.
This is where I get to hear my mom’s voice most often. I receive a phone call from time to time, along with occasional three pages of texts connecting our relationship to scriptures in the Bible. A couple of days later, the number is disconnected or back in the hands of a stranger who was nice enough to lend their phone.
But, don’t let the tone of words in the message fool you.
It’s meant to be manipulative. She needs something and will coat it with as many layers of love as it takes to crack me. She knows how to hit me where it hurts.
I never knew my mother or father the way a daughter should. This remains true.
Many foster youth have some kind of contact with one or both parents, but, even then, our experiences are very unique. There are endless moments throughout our childhood that remind us of what we don’t and never will have. Even after we grow up, the questions never end.
What do your parents do? Do you look more like your mom or dad? What did you inherit from your parents? Why did they name you Thalia?
What’s your mom’s best home cooked meal?
Ouch. That plate got cold fast. But it’s real.
My parents? They do nothing.
My father is gone and my mother is there. No, really, she’s just there. Her response is always along the lines of, “Oh, just here, over here, you know.”
As I got older, I learned to take it for what it is. I’d take “just here” over no contact any day. All I can do is wish safety upon them. According to her, she is fine and “just living.” I guess that’s a good way to look at it.
A good way to live your life and block out the reality of everything happening around you. By default, I am connected to you, but the closest I’ve ever felt to you was in the womb. Forced to be together, but as soon as I was born, it was a constant battle. Do you want me or not? I was too young to understand, but I craved your presence and attention. I wonder if the feeling was mutual.
We can tell each other it’s in the past, but the truth is, the door was never closed. I don’t think I am seeking closure, but I do want to understand what hurt you. It might make things worse, but it’s worth the fall, especially if it means an attempt at helping you. I will forever hold it against myself if I don’t at least try.
I am haunted by my past every single day. I wish I could know you. I wish I could come to you during the hard times, but when I see you, it hurts too much. It reminds me of the pain I felt growing up. It still lingers. You are the root of my suffering. I can’t blame you for the pain because I know some things were out of your control, but I do blame you for neglecting yourself. Maybe you couldn’t completely heal, but a try would’ve been sufficient.
I know denial is the one meal you might have cooked and swallowed for the past 30 years, but it’s time to try something new. How about acceptance? Confrontation? Love? Help?
Regardless of all the suffering and wrongs, you are right about one thing. You will always be my mother and I will always be your daughter.
I will be here to help when you are ready to cook up the next meal.