|I lied to my mother a week and two days ago. At the time it seemed like a little white lie, but itís becoming a bigger monster as time progresses. You see, it was Motherís Day, you knowÖ that holiday where you buy your Mom dumb gifts to express your gratitude for all the sacrifices sheís made? We were sitting in our run-down kitchen having a bit of breakfast. Between checking the biscuits in the toaster oven and taking juice out of our chugging fridge, Mom asked rather randomly if I believe that she and my father have messed me up in any way. Did I have trouble with relationships? Did I find it challenging to trust people? Did I think she was a bad Mom? I looked over from the round kitchen table where I was reading (or looking over) a trashy celebrity magazine and I innocently lied: ďNo Mom. None of the above.Ē
It was Motherís Day after all, the annual day where Moms are Queens and we treat them so even if they are unemployed for the fortieth time or in jail. It would be wrong to spoil the day with less-than-sunny news. Even so, I donít think I could have ever told her the full truth, Motherís Day or not. Iím not entirely sure of the answers to her questions myself and besides, my dad played a big part in my history as well and it would be unfair to put it all on her.
But this is what I know to be true:
I was born twenty or so years ago to two people who probably never should have been married. Iím still confused as to why my father proposed, and why my mother said yes, but it happened. Shortly thereafter, I was conceived and born. They lived in a tiny apartment at the time (so they say, I canít remember) and that is about all I know. My father was somewhere between the jobs of training horses and becoming a jewelry store employee.
I guess you could say that my father is a man who enjoys wearing many hats. In my lifetime, I remember him as: a limo driver, a computer nerd in a cubicle, a middle aged traveling corporate slave, a cowboy, a town drunk, a pizza delivery man, a government peon, an addict, and most recently, a writer. The many hats concept also applied to women. My dad is rather unfaithful, which is something I can recall from very early in my life when he would hit on my daycare providers.
My Mom and dad have separated more times than I wish to count, but she has always taken him back. The last time (that I know of) that he cheated on Mom, he ended up in Pennsylvania with a blonde that inspired him to light candles, write poetry, and smoke dope. I hated visiting him because the town was small and smelt of farm animals, and I was kind of embarrassed by the whole situation. Eventually, the blonde left him for her lowly ex-husband, and he came home with some bags and an addiction.
Being diabetic, my dad already had plenty of needles for dope. He just didnít have money to buy the stuff, and he had no problem stealing or lying to get the dough. I used to take my wallet into the bathroom when I showered so that he could not ďborrowĒ money while I shampooed. I started hiding money in books, CD cases, hats, and all sorts of oddball places. I began to have a sort of obsession with my belongings. They were mine, they each needed a place, and if anything looked out of sorts, I would be very upset until it was resolved. My Mom was not so careful, and would stumble upon things being missing when she most needed them. My dad would take her jewelry and pawn it for hard cash, and she wouldnít notice until she needed the Amethyst necklace for a party. Nine times out of ten, she would never have her valuable items again. She would spend nights driving the city streets looking for my dad when he didnít come home, and home was in the nice safer suburbs.
Mom finally staged an intervention. A week before I was to begin high school, we put dad in the car and drove him to rehab, only he didnít know we were headed there. He was pretty upset when we arrived. I remember being taken into a nice little sitting room with some sort of addiction therapist while my parents and another therapist battled it out nearby. Lots of crying, lots of anger, lots of words later, Mom and I drove off into the stormy late summer night without dad. I started high school more confused and sad than ever. My friends from elementary school almost instantly started to drink when high school started. After watching my dad and the rehab thing only weeks before, I had to go a separate way.
Then came 9/11. I hate to wave that banner, but it did mean a lot in my history. Dad was still in rehab, and I was still getting used to high school. 9/11 was the first time my Mom really took charge. She was uncertain about what to do without some male guidance, but we made it just fine alone. It was scary, and it was one of the first times I realized that I would have to be extremely independent for the rest of my life.
Dad came home shortly thereafter, and for a few weeks everything was pretty nice. Mom and dad actually got along. No more arguments, no more stealing. I still hid things and held things back because to me not much could change what had happened. My dad would make up stories and try to impress me, but all he would be doing was lying to try to get back my favor. This only made me distrust him more. I decided to take everything he said with a grain of salt and quickly move on.
Things were okay for a while, and then dad started getting pretty sick. Turns out he had something pretty nasty: cancer. My Mom started working extra long days to be able to afford the medical bills. She would leave before I woke up, and would come home as I was going to bed. I would drive my dad to the hospital or to his doctorís appointments. I would drive slowly and would avoid potholes and bumps so as to lessen his pain.
This was the time I was to apply to College. Select my future. Have some fun. I ended up settling for a local private school, figuring I could stay nearby in case anything happened to dad. Forget that I wanted to go to school out West, or that I wanted to go abroad. My College was five minutes from home.
As was with high school, a week before I moved into my dorm, my dad had serious surgery to remove the cancer. This procedure was long and potentially deadly. They removed ribs, parts of his spine, and gave him all sorts of fake body parts. He was in intensive care for the first two months of my College experience.
During this time, I learned what it meant to be away from home. I met some nice people, including my boyfriend. He was everything I wanted in a man: sexy, good looking, nice, funny, smart, and didnít list beer in his top three priorities. When he asked me out, I couldnít believe it. Nothing this good had ever happened to me. To this day, I still stop every once in awhile and make sure that Iím not dreaming- heís that good. I work so hard not to be like my parents. I havenít had a good model to follow, so I always feel like Iím striking new ground. He means more to me than I could ever say, and I wish every day for his happiness and wellbeing.
Along with challenges such as cooking, cleaning, and roommates, I also faced the typical College monster: drinking. After watching dad, I had decided drinking was a definite no-no for me. I did not want to fall into an addiction, which seems to run in my family. A lot of my peers had a hard time accepting my decision, and I found it difficult to make good friends. Later on, I discovered that I could have a drink or two without being an addict, but Iím still uncomfortable with the fact to this day.
I also worry constantly about people lying. I hate being lied to, and the fear I have of it is to a completely foolish degree. I wonder if my boyfriend is off with another girl, I wonder if he hates me and is lying to me when he says ďI love you,Ē I worry that my roommates are being sneaky behind my back. None of these are very logical, but they are the only situations I have ever known. I spent my whole life with supposed ďrole modelsĒ who did just those things. I have a daily struggle with trust, and it has led me to be rather lonely. I do whatever it takes to protect myself from the familiar pain, but it still comes back more than I like.
To this day, I hide money. Only now, it is in my own bank account. To this day, I hold my father to the saying ďIf I see it, then Iíll believe it.Ē To this day, my Mother is still my main provider. Yet she still supports my father, even though he disappears and wastes her money. They are usually at odds, and it is just something I'm used to now, even if I don't enjoy it. Iím not sure if he is sober, and I donít think I would get the truth if I asked. To this day, I remind myself that I am responsible for me, and I have to do my best to protect my future.
I have a 4.0 grade point average in College. Evidently this is supposed to be a difficult thing, as many people react with disbelief and I am often asked to prove it. I am getting involved on campus. I am a member of an Honor Society or two. I am in a relationship with the only person I can honestly say ďI love youĒ to. After rehab, my dadís family stopped talking to us. At times, I feel like my boyfriend is my only family. He certainly understands me better than anyone I've ever known. Iím working so hard for a better future, one where I can have a nice house and a safe car, a clean lawn on a quiet street in a nice neighborhood. I donít care for white picket fences. I want an English Bulldog named Heftee, and I want my own library in my home. I want comfy couches and a huge bed. I want my boyfriend next to me.
Earlier this year, my Mom lost her Mother suddenly to a stroke. My Momís father had died before she was born, so my Nana was everything to her. I knew Motherís Day would be hard for Mom, so I cut her some slack. She works so hard for everyone, even if for the wrong reasons or in less-than-fantastic ways. In a way, I guess I am learning from her mistakes, and I will only be better because of them.
Around the time of my fatherís cancer, her Mother had finally accepted my dad. Maybe I need to cut him some slack as well. After all, he has taught me some incredible life lessons too: the definitions of honesty and respect, how to handle crises, how not to handle a relationship, etc...
Iím so scared of the future because of my past. Clichť, but true. I suppose the honest answers to my Moms questions would have been: yes I struggle with my relationships, yes I find it impossible to trust people, and although you stumbled sometimes, you were the best Mom you could be.