August 29, 2011 in families
You might recall my reminiscing about Saturday Mornings with my mother: our weekly ritual wherein she would don her sequined cape and disco-pied-piper my sister and I into spit-shining the whole apartment from top to bottom. This was all well and good when I was ten, but today, my mother’s impending arrival after a two-year hiatus is downright paralyzing. I have torn apart every room in the house, painted and rearranged furniture. The place is literally upside-down. Why do I do this to myself, you might ask. Good question.
When she is within one hundred miles of my house, I will immediately begin to feel like I am doing everything wrong. I will drop things, break things, and burn things. I will most likely cut my finger and get blood all over the floor, which will stain something while I hurriedly attempt to clean it up. This series of unfortunate events is accompanied by giant footsteps in my head that are coming closer and closer, getting louder and louder and shaking the ground, not unlike the giant’s approach in Jack and the Beanstalk—myself the cowering Jack.
When she gets out of her vehicle, she will immediately beginning scanning the area like Lee Majors. Beep-beep-beep-beep. All forms of disarray: unkempt grass, fire pit remnants, rusty iron furniture, broken slate, chewed up dog toys, et cetera, will be magnified by one thousand. She will saunter into the house and begin the process there, noting all the spider webs, fingerprints, dog hair dust balls, dirty windows, and grimy appliances. She will notice the dirt on the baseboards, the dust on the chandelier, and that the fans need cleaning.
She won’t actually say anything like this, she will just look at said things with that look. With that look she will control my every move, every impulse, every thought as if I were possessed and I will walk around taking telepathic orders like a good robot. I will find myself cleaning things for no reason until someone speaks to me, waking me from my trancelike stupor, puzzled, dirty rag in hand. Come to think of it, she may even say it too, because she can. She’s my mother. She can say and do whatever she wants because she gave me her blood and carried me around for nine months so that gives her every right—and don’t you forget it.
Somehow, miraculously, with the help of some beans or other magical substance, I will remember that I have powers of my own, and start to use them. We will sit around and talk and laugh, and she’ll love up the kids and we’ll laugh some more. Maybe we’ll go and sew or make something together and tell some stories and she’ll teach me something new. I’ll remember all the reasons I love her to death and wonder why she seems like some enormous judge of my life. With any luck, I will relax and learn not to obsess about any of that because it doesn’t much matter. Before I know it she will be back in her car and I will be sad that she left, overcome with that familiar empty feeling while I watch her car fade to a tiny speck and finally disappear on the horizon.
When she arrives this weekend seeming fifty feet tall, even though I may feel like a Lilliputian inside, I will bravely look at her like she’s just my mom—a woman in her sixties and in fair health, who traveled thousands of miles to see her daughter and her grandchildren, to feel a connection, to make some memories and to simply be loved. (Trusty super-suit at the ready though, just in case.)
Image via Karina Cruz