“You hate me so much. You never want to come close to me. But I’m your mother. I am your mother.” As if possessed by something else entirely, she began chanting her new mantra, a prayer to God asking to wipe her hands clean of me, her voice dripping with nothing but regret.
Those were, perhaps, the most earth shattering words my mother ever said to me. All this time, I thought she was the one who hated me. She was supposed to be the one who hated, not I. She was cold and distant, guarded and bitter all throughout my childhood and adolescence. I was too scared to approach her, let alone get near enough to strike up a mother-daughter bond---a bond I probably wanted more than she did.
I wanted to remember something good. I filed through my vast stores of memory looking for small bits of proof that she is more than fury. Did she love me when she sang me a lullaby? Did she love me when I took my first step, said my first word, wrote my first story? Did she want me after all the things I put her through?
Part of me wanted to embrace her, pity her; tell her that none of this was real. ‘We are happy’ I would say or, “we could be.”
I examined her face, trying to read past her hard expression, trying to find some sort of explanation. She wasn’t the same bright, enchanting woman she had been seventeen years ago---nothing at all like the pictures tell. Her jovial face was now worn from time
and age and struggle; tiredness written in every line, sacrifices for her family swimming in the pools of her eyes.
I should have been loving then. I should have been gracious, but the petty side won out.
“How does it feel to be pushed away from someone you love?” It was divine liberation. It was freedom. It was glory beyond reason. It was excessively cruel, vindictive, low.
The fight ended as they normally did: a violent shouting match moved forward by resentment and tar soaked hearts.
I regret my words. There was no justice. We were both wrong. Yet, I just couldn’t bring myself to say that two-syllable word that seemed so impossible. I couldn’t push it past my lips and change everything.
I could have changed our relationship if only I had been brave enough, if I had been strong enough. Instead, I let my frustrations and anger boil and brew over into some poisonous concoction that burned us both.
We love, but do not say so. There is no redemption for the pain our silences cause. I never change.
I wish I could.