The Old and Immature

My mom called.

She start­ed about some trans­fer forms, unfin­ished busi­ness in the wake of the divorce, but care­ful­ly segued into ask­ing if I want­ed to take a trip to the States with some oth­er fam­i­ly.

This is how she tries to make amends. She does­n’t apol­o­gize or ask how I’m doing because she can’t. She can’t admit that she’s done any wrong, not even to her­self. Her inse­cu­ri­ty does­n’t allow her to show any vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty.

I keep my rage in check, but it’s a hard fire to fight. After what I’ve been through, after telling her nev­er to talk to me again, she has the audac­i­ty to ask as if noth­ing has hap­pened.

With a firm voice, I tell her no. No to the trip, no to her, and this caus­es her tone to grow angry. It’s fun­ny to think that she may be angry at me, like a rapist being angry at his vic­tim, but I know it’s not anger. It’s sad­ness, but she masks it with anger, the way she hides her guilt behind her excus­es and expla­na­tions.

It’s eas­i­er to deal with the loss of your only child when it’s his fault.

From what she says, I can tell she’s more wor­ried about her image of being a bad par­ent to her friends, than to actu­al­ly being a moth­er to me. This was the per­son who “raised” me. The per­son who was sup­posed to teach me to be proud of who I am. To not be super­fi­cial. To be hum­ble. To own up to my mis­takes. To take respon­si­bil­i­ty for my actions. It’s a scary thought.

I can read my mom like a book. Not because I’ve known her for so long, but because she’s still a child. I know exact­ly what she’s think­ing, and at the same time, she shows a total lack of self-aware­ness. She still has­n’t learned the impor­tant lessons, the epipha­nies one expe­ri­ences through child­hood, ado­les­cence, and young adult­hood.

Talking to her is like talk­ing to myself at an ear­li­er stage in life.


  1. I’ve tak­en a sim­i­lar approach in deal­ing with my father (step-father, to be per­fect­ly accu­rate). Your ear­li­er ‘stick­er book’ post res­onat­ed with me. In my case, the cir­cum­stances were dif­fer­ent but the end result appears to have been the same.

    After I left home our rela­tion­ship became some­thing akin to a per­son I knew (but did­n’t like) in high­school. For the sake of my moth­er, I tol­er­ate him but oth­er­wise avoid con­tact where pos­si­ble. My girl­friend has a great deal of dif­fi­cul­ty inter­pret­ing this behav­iour since she had/has a wild­ly dif­fer­ent sort of rela­tion­ship with her fam­i­ly.

    I must admit to feel­ing some vin­di­ca­tion in know­ing that he’ll be work­ing in his menial job to achieve a menial retire­ment while I’m already vast­ly more suc­cess­ful than he ever was. He’s jeal­ous, and says as much when he won­ders how I “lucked into it”.

    Needless to say, I feel no guilt about the approach I’ve tak­en. Neither should you. The time and place for sec­ond, third, umpteenth-chances have long since passed.

    And for the record — I always want­ed (but nev­er man­aged to get) a root beer scratch ‘n sniff!

  2. Ah, you’re den­nis from in town! I con­fused you as Dennis from Scotland at first.

    It’s inter­est­ing that your girl­friend does­n’t under­stand. My girl­friends have always been able to empathize, maybe because they could tell how sad I was.

    I don’t feel vin­di­cat­ed though. I take no plea­sure in my moth­er’s sad­ness. I feel noth­ing. You’re right in say­ing than you should­n’t feel guilty about the approach. It’s that umpteenth chance that makes it easy to move on.

    And the root beer stick­er must be some­what uni­ver­sal. It’s crossed hous­es, play­grounds, and cities now.

  3. Jeff, are you in Ottawa? If so, I did­n’t real­ize that!

    My girl­friend not under­stand­ing is prob­a­bly my fault. I don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly adver­tise my thoughts on the sub­ject; I gen­er­al­ly don’t speak about it at all.

    Great redesign, by the way.

  4. I thought you knew! I don’t remem­ber how I found your site, or how you found mine, but I thought it was Ottawa relat­ed some­how.

    I’ve always need­ed sup­port on the who fam­i­ly thing from my girl­friends (since the dra­ma was­n’t just my mom but my dad too), so I’ve always admit­ted it to them. Not all of them have under­stood of course, one of them even said things like she was bet­ter than me because she had a good par­ents. Why don’t you talk about it with her? In most cas­es, it’s helped me.

    And thank you. I’m still work­ing out the kinks (IE 7) and some unfore­seen Lightbox Javascript prob­lems, but oth­er­wise I’m hap­py with the new design. :)

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