Nice, But Only with Context…
I woke up this morning and thought about my mom. I wondered how she would feel about my staying in New York after all of these years and I wondered how she would feel about A going away to college because for so much of my childhood, my mom wanted me to stay home and go to a local college so that I could be close to her.
And I wondered what she would think of my love life and friendships over the past few years since she died.
This year will mark the ninth anniversary of my mom’s death and I still think about her more than I admit to anyone, including myself. I put on her old records on Sunday mornings as I work on projects around the house. And I have a playlist that she would have readily approved of that I use when I go out for a run.
I imagine that she would worry about my sister and I on a regular basis, even if she didn’t need to, just because that’s how she was. She was always calling to ask me if I was happy and if I missed her. The answer was, more often than not, ‘not really’ and ‘yes’.
She would have loved that I work as a fundraiser. It always made sense to her that a child who grew up with little, would work hard to make sure others have a lot. She would have been happy I divorced ‘The Runner’ but she would have been mad at me for not leaving sooner. She would love my writing partner because he looks like he could be related to everyone in my family except me.
She would have called me after I posted things and ask why I was sad.
Yesterday, when A when through the draft of “Wetsuit” and texted me to say she was crying, I think my mom would have understood and told her that’s just the way I am. A is the only person I shared the whole document with, as is, complete with something I wrote just yesterday morning, because I wanted to make sure she was alright with being referenced so often. She has always read what I write before I post, especially when it’s about her, because I never want to get her story wrong. My mom would have approved of this.
How do I know? I know because the woman I fought really hard to escape was also, until she died, one of my best friends. I think there were days when I loved and hated her equally – like on the day she called to say that she had always been so tough on me because I thrived the harder she parented. She thought that I wouldn’t be the person I am now if she hadn’t been the mother she had been. I was so mad when she said that, but she was right and years after that conversation, I am thankful to her for many things I never got to express.
Having my mom die just as we were becoming close again still makes me sad.
That sadness has ended up playing a role in why I stay in some relationships too long. I don’t want to end them without trying everything possible to make them work. In the end, everyone gets what they want except for me. I think my mom, while taking a lot, would have reminded me that I was being foolish. Actually, I know this because it’s what she told me a few months before she died. She wanted me to do more traveling because she hadn’t been to all of the places she’d imagined as a young woman. I told her I couldn’t because I had a family. She said I would die an unhappy person if I didn’t start taking responsibility for my needs. I said she was being ridiculous. She said I would find out when I got older.
She once said, and I heard someone else say it today, that some people are nice, but only when there is context. In truth, they don’t like most people and they don’t have the best interests of most people in mind when they do things. She called them predators. I had forgotten about that. My mom hated that I was always the last to leave a friendship and she hated that I stayed in my intimate relationships too long. I thought I had to stay in order to prove that she and I were different. I thought that part of her problem was that she was too sensitive so I tried to be less quick to cry. I thought she held too much inside, so I tried to speak up. I thought she didn’t listen, so I listened to everything. In truth, I was her daughter, so how could we be too dissimilar?
Now that I am older, I know she was right. Sometimes, I forget how to make my happiness a priority, but having A so close, even though she’s almost three hours away, makes it at least possible.
So, there it is. I miss my mom. I think most people who really know me already suspected this.