My mother and I have disagreements. She remembers my childhood differently than I do, and so we have disagreements because now I’m an adult and I’m not afraid to not comply–not because I want to be defiant, but because I’m done walking away as though I don’t have a voice.
That’s what happened Thursday.
Some time after, she apologized. “I was basically a single mother back then, and I was doing the best I could. In hindsight, I could have made a better decision for you. I’m sorry.” I told her it was ok. Parenting is hard, which is why I opted out. There, in the laundry room, we folded clothes and talked about self-growth and awareness. During the conversation she made it indirectly clear that I, at 27 years her junior, was far wiser than she. I’m not sure why because I often live by words she has stated, but maybe that newspaper is too close for her to read. The words aren’t clear. I think she needs more friends. Good friends. She needs people who are honest to her about her. And she could stand to be a bit more receptive. Good friends and open ears: those are tools for growth. Like properly applied fertilizer and pruning shears.
Our conversation came to a close as we finished matching the last pairs of socks and I mentioned that being in a relationship has helped me grow. I’m in a same-sex relationship that she has yet to verbally acknowledge, so hoping for an “Oh, really?” at the end of this heartfelt and bonding conversation seemed reasonable. Instead, she ignored my statement and thanked me for folding her clothes. And, no, she didn’t need my help carrying them to her room.
Later that evening I visited my best friend, Angela, and her family. In the voicemail invitation, Angela’s dad boasted about wearing “butt floss” for me, so I couldn’t not go. That would be rude. They were such loving hosts and I clung to her dad because he’s funny and made it his mission to provide extra-ordinary alcoholic beverages to his guests despite being in constant physical pain from a work-related accident years ago. “We live through the pain, Chee Chee.” Yeah…we do.
I missed Alex(andra) and wished she could be there. Wished we could have the warm, joint Thanksgiving that Angela and Ryan had with both sets of parents laughing and eating together. After a succession of shitheads and assholes, Angela found someone who pampers her and I was happy for her. But that evening was gravely honest. Angela and I had been drifting apart and I forced myself past the stages of grief and straight into acceptance.
Amongst them, I felt out-of-place, and jealous. I wondered when joint family Thanksgivings became ‘a thing’ after seven months and engagement rings outshone friendship-fertilizer. Mother, Angela. Break, re-grow. Alex and I won’t be blending Thanksgivings because we are a same-sex, interracial couple and you can be sure that family members on both sides are rolling over in their graves. Those above ground are digging graves just so they can roll over, too.
But with growth comes realization and acceptance. I have another best friend. And Thanksgivings can be joint with just the two of us. And when we are married, matching socks together in the laundry room, I know I can tell her how being in a relationship has helped me grow. I won’t have to hope because I know her response will be, “I know. Me, too.”