When I was fifteen years old, my family went through some serious shit. Some pretty heavy-duty, messed-up, super-depressing shit.
None of us much liked ourselves at that time, and I think it bled into our relationships with one another. How could it not? We were deeply unhappy people, trapped with one another, miserable in every way.
And so we’re on our way somewhere, my mom driving, my brothers in the backseat, me in the passenger side, sulking because for one now-forgotten reason or another, we were totally late to the place we were supposed to be going, and in my head, it was all my mom’s fault.
I’m sure I snipped at her in some rotten teenaged way. I don’t remember what I said. I do remember her reaction.
“Kath, I don’t know how to fix this now. But in twenty years, write the memoir or something. I’m sure you’ll get a good story out of this one.”
In a roundabout way, I guess that’s what I’m doing now.
My mother is strong. My mother is independent. My mother is a force to be reckoned with. My mother is slow to anger, and sometimes – like many of us – slow to forgive. My mother raised me on books, on absolute and unquestionable love, on trips to the library and hand-sewn Halloween costumes and homemade chocolate chip cookies. My mother tried so hard. My mother wanted me so badly. My mother loves me. And I love her, deeply.
My mother is also religious. My mother is concerned with doing the right thing. My mother is moral and good and sincere. My mother is strong-willed.
And telling my mother about this blog terrified me deeply.
I did it today. In the car, parked outside my house, with my stomach in knots.
My mother, you see, doesn’t like some of the words I use, and overuse with gusto, on this blog. Words like “fuck,” and “shit.”
My mother doesn’t like to talk about sex and sexuality.
My mother likes to think I go to church. My mother likes to pray for me to marry a nice Catholic boy. My mother is excited to someday hold some nice Catholic grandkids. I don’t have the heart to tell her, most times, just how very far away those goals are for me right now. I don’t have the heart to talk about how very far away I feel from her religious choices. I don’t have the heart to try and bridge the gulf between the two of us, in our religious beliefs, in our political views, on our outlooks on the world, because I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I don’t want to disappoint her.
My mother doesn’t like to think about me using those words. My mother doesn’t want to think of me going home with boys, or drinking too much, or publically discussing – even celebrating – my failures. And I can see why.
It’s ‘cause she’s my mom. And it’s ‘cause she loves me.
My stomach still hurts. I don’t know how she’s going to react to this. Our conversation was cut short, and I didn’t get to hear her thoughts about this. Maybe that’s for the best.
I titled this blog after her for a variety of reasons. But mostly I titled it “I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog” because I think not wanting to disappoint your mother is a very human emotion, that a lot of people relate to. Like most daughters (and sons) I know, I hate not living up to her standards. And no matter how much TOTAL delight and joy this blog brings me (and, believe me – it’s been the best thing to happen to me in the past few months), it’s hard to live with knowing that this is likely going to make her disappointed in me.
I’m going to keep writing. And it’s up to her to decide whether she wants to keep reading.
But just so I have a chance to say it, and say it publically:
I love you, Mom.
ps: This is how great my mom is. I pitched her an idea like a year ago for a kids’ book (knowing full well that I would need, like, friends with children’s book connections, and someone to help me illustrate it, and a million other things with zero ideas about how to make it happen), and she slapped a hundred bucks on the table and said “Consider me your first investor. Now go make that book.” She doesn’t have that kind of money lying around. She just believed in me.
I’m hoping she still does.
pps: UPDATE: She called me back just now, and we talked it out. We’re okay, I think. For now. She hasn’t read it yet, and I don’t know if doing so will change things. But her words to me were, “Go, girl. But go with caution. And go with your morals intact.”
I think that says it all.