Wednesday, May 11, 2005

If it's not one thing, it's your mother

I've come to the conclusion that I'm not too busy, or too lazy, or too dumb. I'm simply stubborn and will not adhere to anyone else's timeline for any fucking thing if I can help it. Therefore I will talk about Mother's Day on May 11th, 4 days late. So there.

This is a previous story I wrote and posted somewhere else, with some minor changes thrown in. I chose not to write something new because I'm stubborn, duh, I already mentioned that. Traditionally, I've had a very strained and difficult relationship with my mother. Tales to be told in another mindset. But this particular story has a happy ending, and a rare happy memory to go with it, and that's what I want to talk about today. And don't be fooled by the almost-pummeling of my mama, she would have deserved it. You'll see.

Despite it all, and the near forever-ending of our relationship a few years ago, I love her. And she makes kick-ass casseroles.

The phone call came, the arrangements were made, the schedule was set. My mom was coming for a visit, all by herself, just me and mom, alone, together, just the two of us, in my house… for 7...whole…days. Mamapalooza 2003. Maybe this trip would go better than the last one. Maybe we could get past the first 20 minutes in each others presence without lip-pursing and eye-rolling, eventually ending in the type of family drama and dysfunction seen only on the Lifetime channel, TV for vaginas. Maybe.

It was requested that a series of projects were available for mom, since I would be working full time and my mother alone in my house with idle hands and a head full of “great” ideas was as dangerous as a child playing with razor sharp knives. For example, the first visit sans dad, known as Mamagate 2002, had a very unfortunate pruning episode of my prized ficus tree.

I say tree because the one plant that I’ve managed not to kill had not only flourished into an enormous privacy-creating shade-making tree, but had also taken its plant initiative and busted through the bottom of its wooden pot and rooted. I really appreciated this plant. Not only for having the fortitude to go out on its own but relieving me of several responsibilities, watering, the 3 seconds of uncomfortable guilt I’d feel after killing it, and the incredible pain in the ass of trying to get rid of a dead 6 foot fucking ficus.

Mamagate 2002 included a project of cleaning up the patio. At no time was pruning ever mentioned. Not in any way were sharp objects to be used on any living thing. This task was to consist of sweeping, pulling dead leaves, disposing of dead plants and general tidiness. This was not to be the case.

I came home from work to find pruning shears sitting on the kitchen counter. My first thought, oh…fuck. I quickly dashed onto the patio, did a cursory scan, my eyes eventually trying to focus on the carnage in the corner. My big old beautiful boy had been butchered. Now, mind you, I had not told her to specifically stay away from that plant, but after reviewing what she’d done it was all I could do to keep my eyes from falling out of my head.

She had decided it was time for a little “trim” for my tree, but mom apparently didn’t put in the effort to tilt her head back and realize it had grown rather tall. This actualization was made AFTER cutting had commenced, and continued, until Mr. Ficus looked distinctly like a very skinny man with a very large afro. Needless to say, I was rather upset at this foolish looking foliage, promptly hid the sheers and banned mom from any pruning duties until said plant prohibition was lifted. And yes, it’s still active.

Moving on to Mamapalooza 2003. I arrived home from work on Monday to see mom finishing up this year’s patio cleanup. I sucked in a nervous breath and held it. Woah. Everything looked good. Whew. No need for bloodshed yet. Sigh.

I had brought some dinner home, made sure there was wine in the house, and the night went well. “Holy crap” I thought, this might go O.K. Only 6 more days to go.

Project number 2 was super simple. I had cleaned out my closet the previous weekend and ended up with about 5 bags of clothes and shoes. (Part of the curse of being a shopoholic). This was a slam-dunk. Pick up the bags, throw them in the car, dump them at shelter. Or so I thought. I get home Tuesday night and all the bags are gone. Yay!

Then I look in my laundry room. Hmm. Something is different. Oh, the towels were organized. All nice and neat. How nice. Wait. Hmm. There’s an awful lot of shelf room here. Hmm.

“Oh mother?” “What happened to my towels?”

“I took some of them with the clothes”

“Which ones did you take”

“I don’t remember”

“You don’t remember which towels you took just a few hours ago?”

No, I don’t remember”

“Was it the pink ones?”

“I don’t remember.”

“You don’t remember?”

“NO, I don’t remember”

“Was it the tan ones?”

“Maybe, they weren’t very nice.”

“The pink ones were fine, and they were the only ones that had those big bath sheets”

I don’t remember.”

“You don’t remember?”

“No, I don’t remember.”



“Sigh, no, that’s ok, thanks for taking the stuff.”

Wednesday’s conversation…

”Was it the pink ones?”



“What other projects can I do?”

“I’m sorry, your project privileges have been revoked. You went beyond the appointed task. Thank you, but I don’t have anything else.”

“How about some painting?”

-big cheesy smile, mouth silently forms the word NO...-

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, all pass by without a hitch. Christ on a cracker, I think we’re gonna make it. And I choose to completely ignore the fact that every time I go to work, she rearranges the furniture in my living room. Every day, she moves the ottoman against the wall, and every night I move it back. It was kinda like a little game. A little game that I chose to ignore. A little game that would have turned into a fight if SHE FRIGGEN MOVED THAT OTTOMAN ONE MORE FRIGGEN TIME. But it’s cool, I didn’t say anything about that. I’m cool.

Sunday arrives. Mamapalooza 2003 is coming to a close. The last act will be on stage shortly. We decide to go brunch. Mom chooses the restaurant despite my warnings. I told her the food sucked, but nooooo, she wouldn’t listen. Guess what? It sucked. But things were still going well. I was on the countdown now. Feeling the tension. If we could just make it through the next few hours, it would be the most successful visit in a long-ass time.

We decide to run one last errand, mom insisting on driving. Now, let me explain a few things about my moms driving. First off, she drives a brand-new, gigantic Yukon. Why on earth she needs to be driving that kind of acreage on wheels I have no idea, but she does. Now, secondly, she drives like shit. And it’s not just the fact that she doesn’t pay a lot of attention to her surroundings, but she does that thing. You know that thing where people drive .06758 miles per hour everywhere??

We’re slowly pulling out of the parking lot on our way to Home Depot, and she’s covering ground slower than a slug on sedatives. And given the fact that I had just been reminded of how bad my breakfast looked for the last half hour (silently saying I told you so), and the nicotine fit I was having was beginning to physically hurt, I felt my chest start to tighten while that inner voice in my head started screaming “THE FUCKING GAS PEDAL IS ON THE RIGHT!!” “FOR GODSSAKE, HIT THE GODDAMN GAS!!” But I gathered some type of strength from somewhere, fractured a tooth by gritting my teeth, and continued to somehow breathe without saying a word.

Things almost went south in the store. I definitely felt the verbal bullets whizzing by my head. But somehow it wasn’t escalating into anything worthy of one of our famous fights. I seriously don’t know how we escaped it. I thought for sure buying paint would be the catalyst to a brawl. Since I’m a Dove girl and mom is strictly vanilla, so to speak, my paint choices were getting “the face”, but she too held her tongue.

We drove home, crawled rather, and once again I felt my shoulders lifting up over my ears with tension, watching the speedometer bounce around the 5. How does she get the car to go that fucking slow? Jesus. Anyway, we made it home. Only a few hours till her departure. Could we make it? I didn’t want to get too cocky, but I was feeling pretty confident.

I decided to join mom on the patio for one last chat. Uh oh. The subject came up. Oh shit. I don’t remember who said it first. Here we go. Opposing teams. Fist-a-cuffs at the ready. The one subject that gets us both on guard... My brother. PFT PFT. Stupid brother.

Yikes, I can see her eyes getting red. She’s not in the mood. I’m not agreeing. We’re almost arguing. Oh jeez! I knew it! I knew something would happen!!!

Then, all of a sudden, as soon as it started it was over. No fight. No blood. We made it. I almost broke into song. I’m feeling rather giddy, actually. Or I was high from huffing paint in Home Depot, whatever. We loaded her car, hugged, said I love you, and I watched her slowly drive away. I walked back to my condo and sat outside in the sun, lit a much-needed cigarette and gazed up at my unscathed ficus. Took a deep, deep breath and smiled.

Yea, I love my mom.

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