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Mothers and Daughters

July 18, 2008
My children are angry with me. For different reasons though. The oldest threw her fit last week and currently is not talking to me. I’m not in the mood to appease, she needs to grow up a little. Guilt, guilt, guilt, I’m so sick of the guilt card. My mother is the master of the guilt card and because of that, I seem to be immune, or if not immune, annoyed when it is played. My mother and oldest daughter are the same Zodiac sign, –different months though. I blame it on the second half of her teenage years when she ran to her grandmother for every little complaint. Instead of her grandmother redirecting her, she used it as an opportunity to stick it to her daughter, that nasty bitch who by then had had enough of the guilt card and was no longer playing. Yes, they were bosom buddies. If I told the child she could not have something, the grandmother bought it, bought two, one of each colour. And then told everybody how she had to buy her granddaughter whatever because her mother would not, “that selfish bitch, I bet she paid rent.” Who in their right mind would pay rent when a child wants something in several colours? The grandmother showed up all the time. Some Friday afternoons I would come home to find the child gone, a note saying, “I went with grandmother. Will be back Sunday night.” Money was so tight then, but when I was determined, really determined to make a point I would waste the gas to make the hour and half drive to get my daughter back. Always unsuccessful. “Look how much fun she is having. Leave the child alone! Why are you being such a bitch? You are such a bitch, a selfish bitch. Enjoy your free weekend. You fucking whore, you are always pawning off your daughter on the weekends so you can act like a selfish fucking whore.”

Now at twenty-six the child cannot stand her maternal-grandmother. No, they are not on speaking terms. Supposedly the child has grown, has seen the light, she now knows how her grandmother just likes to make people helpless, helpless so they will be trapped, trapped around her so she will not be alone, because without anyone needing her for beer or cigarette or crack money or a ride, no one would be around her, because, she never allows herself to be anything but the dominating caregiver, or in other terms, the enforcer and enabler of co-dependency. “Mama, mama, how does it feel knowing that two of your sons, one almost fifty and the other on the other side of forty have never left home?” “When I’m dead maybe yall will appreciate me then you ungrateful bastards.”

Now she is with her other grandmother, the paternal-grandmother and again ma-ma is a horrible person. Ma-ma knew she was taking the baby boy to see the doctor, how could she go twelve whole hours and not call and see how the appointment went. So of course come the thirteenth hour when the absentee grandmother calls, she is scolded and told how horrible of a grandmother she is, how could she wait so long to see how the appointment went? Doesn’t she want to know if the doctor gave him lollipops in two flavours? But Ma-ma lost her temper and cursed her daughter out. This rude reception was just too much to bear after begging the child to bring the little one to visit his grandmother so they can sing the “The Wheels On the Bus” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and go to beach while his ma-ma catches a break. How ungrateful! Moreover, the grandmother was even willing to pay for the tickets, before the price of gas increased the fares. “No, no, I’m not sure. You sound like you want to take my baby from me the way grandmother did you with your baby girl (me).” “I assure you I don’t want to take your baby away. You say you have not had a break in two and half years. I simply want to give you a break. You can come too! You are welcome too! I want you here as much as I want him here. I will be glad to have you. I have clean sheets and soft pillows just for you. I will cook for you while I sing him the “Winnie the Pooh” (and swing my booty the way that makes all the kids laugh) song. I will make you all the things you like to eat.” “Not now, not now, I have things to do, but you are a horrible grandmother nonetheless.”

So it has been about six days now and nothing. We both know what is really going on. She does not want to go back to school, but she does want to go, but it is scary and she has to prepare herself and she is afraid to admit it, afraid to tell me she is not ready to go back, so instead of saying it, realising it, she finds a reason to be angry with me, then she does not have to talk to me and risk me asking about how all the paperwork is going that I ask about all the time.

The second child is a bit lighter, easier, and her anger has since subsided. She was disappointed in her mother. We were watching some television show. A reality like show where people have dogs and are of course are in or out. Someone’s dog was playing outside and had gotten hurt. The owner heard a yelp. Dramatically, the owner rushed to the dog, scooped the limp beast up, demanded a car and whisked off toward the veterinarian. Cameras maliciously focused on the blood on the owner’s shirt, the film sped. The veterinarian quickly rushed the injured dog to the operating table. The diagnosis, a small, very small, a flesh wound to the ear, not the inner ear, but the tip, perhaps a feral cat gave him a swipe, or a wire fence. A flesh wound. A fucking flesh wound. I did not laugh yet. No, I did not fall into uncontrollable laughter until I saw the big ass battlefield bandage they put on the dog’s ear. The dog received no stitches. The laughter almost died down, but then the cameras followed the owner back to the house (Where they are all holed up: the natural way for reality shows) and showed how other owners started to cry because it could very well have been their little dog. That is when I could not stop laughing. Oh, she was angry, she was mad, she stomped upstairs (but first seeing what channel the show was on so she could watch it alone in her room). After she calmed down she asked me politely to explain what I thought was so funny. I tried to make my case. But, when I looked in her sad little hurt eyes I decided it was best just to apoloise and admit that I’m crazy sometimes. “I’m sorry pooh bear. I was wrong. I will never laugh at a poor little puppy again. Can you forgive me?” Of course she did and we hugged for thirty minutes.

  1. Anna permalink
    July 19, 2008 12:59 am

    The story about the dog – I would have been in stitches – haha! – myself. Kids are such suckers for emotionally charged drama – I was once too. Though like you my sense of humor has developed a cynical streak over the years.

    As for your other daughter – how stressful for you. Generational cycles of guilt. That's tough stuff. But you & your youngest daughter have broken the cycle – how wonderful. To have a mother willing to do a mea culpa about an under-wounded dog – she's a lucky kid – seriously.

  2. Professor Zero permalink
    July 19, 2008 11:39 pm

    Generational cycles of guilt, yes. I´ve been watching a family do this and I really want to smack the teenagers over how they treat their mother (I wish she´d stand up to them).

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