My mother bought me a purse. It is, to steal a line from Michelle's kids, BEAST. It is sick. It is supa dupa fly. It is so cool that a security guard in the District of Colombia stopped hating her job long enough to smile and say, "Girl, I love your purse."
The purse is made out of gum wrappers. Really. Since I swing my purses around like ninja stars, it was already starting to tear a bit.
My mother said, "You need to carry your purse like this," and she placed it over my shoulder and pressed my arm down beside it to keep it still.
I puffed out some air and said, "Mom, why does it have a handle if you're not supposed to use it?"
"You are supposed to use it, but you're not supposed to swing it around like a monkey."
And, with a flip of a switch, I reverted to thirteen. "Mom, I'm going to carry my purse however you like, and you just need to deal."
My brother, who had witnessed this entire exchange, grumbled, "You two. Pester and bitch. Bitch and pester." He walked away towards my father, who was wisely avoiding the entire conversation.
I walked along, swinging my purse defiantly, and called ahead to Tom, "And just who is the bitch in this equation?"
Mom smugly retorted, "Do you really want to know the answer to that question?"
On an earlier outing, my brother and father ate some chicken that up and decided to Go Rogue, resulting in massive food poisoning. The fact that our septic system still works is a marvel of modern technology.
I was also ill. Although I briefly wondered if I was the only person in the history of the world to get pregnant with an IUD, I think the more likely culprit was a Key Lime Martini.
So. To set the scene, my brother and father are sharing a bed, taking turns punishing the throne. I'm upstairs, attempting to die when I'm not dry-heaving into a plastic trash can. My mother is wrangling the boys with Paul.
In other words, THE MOST AWESOME TIME EVER.
Somewhere in all of this, my mother determines, as she does for pretty much any occasion, that more shopping is the answer to our problems. She drives to the grocery store and buys five or six gallons of Gatorade, a gross of saltines, and enough Ginger Ale to fill a small swimming pool.
I wake up the next morning, stagger downstairs, and look at my kitchen. Every, and I mean, EVERY available surface is covered with crap. There's a filthy fish tank (Owen's birthday gift), bottles of Ginger Ale, three cell phones, a box of Kleenex, and about fifteen half-drunk cups of liquid.
You must understand, I'm a bit anal-retentive about my clean counter-tops and uncluttered views. It makes me panic. Truly, my heart races and I grow angry LIKE HULK SMASH.
So, I turn to my mother, who had spent the night cleaning vomit and poop IN MY HOME because, lest we forget, I was TOO HUNGOVER to help, and say, "God, Mom, you're such a hoarder."
Bravo, me. Was I the bitch or the pest in that round? Do I really want to know the answer to that question?
We're all watching the Olympics. My mother looks at me, looks away. She steals another quick glance, looks away.
Unable to contain herself, she asks, "Honey, are you ever going to comb your hair? Just a thought."
"I'm almost thirty-five! I can comb my hair or not! It's my choice!" I screech.
I daresay Mom was the pest in that round. I declare my actions not bitchy, but entirely reasonable and justified.
Before bed, my mother says, for no obvious reason, "Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with you."
Thanks, Mom. Thanks a lot. I didn't either. (Apparently others do.)
As everybody was packing up, I felt a dull ache, already missing her, already regretting my inability to suck it up and be nice, already feeling part of my very soul flying away.
The goddess Demeter raged when when her daughter Persephone was whisked away to Hades, and stopped all growth. The Greeks explained Winter this way. I feel that my mother's love for me is a fierce and powerful as Demeter's and when we are separated, I feel colder, less complete.
When we're together, it's often in short, intense spurts. Unfortunately, we tend to play the pester and bitch game, and I don't know why we fall into these patterns. I wish I could say in words what I say in writing---that I love her, and I learn from her, and I'm grateful for her.
Instead, I'll just do this:
I cannot forget my mother,
She is my bridge.
~ Renita Weems