A Moment of Clarity; My Mom Manifesto

The time is Christmas, 2003.  The place is Vengeful Mother’s living room.  The players are CPA Sis, Mr. Fixit, Precious Niece #1, Myself and Vengeful Mother. 

Allow me to set the stage for you.  Vengeful Mother lived in a two bedroom duplex, in a town in Oklahoma named for damaged Indian weaponry, for 17 years.  The duplex was small and cluttered, full of odds and ends of all sorts that she’d collected over time.  What she had not collected, unfortunately, was much at all in the way of functional furniture.  VM‘s living room “suit” was made up of a splintered and wobbly, wood framed day bed; a book shelf made of bricks and planks and an entertainment center she’d inherited when friends of Ex Con Older Brother’s stored some items in her house over a Christmas break from college in 1989, only to be killed in a tragic traffic accident driving back from home in Mexico.  The same 19 inch television that had been the “Family Christmas Gift” in 1987 still sat on that entertainment center.   

Within this scene all the players were expected to sit comfortably to watch that small screen and enjoy each other’s company.  While this is plenty enough furniture for Vengeful Mother on any given night, it’s not a comfortable setting for the entire brood.  More often than not, when I would visit VM I ended up sitting on the left end of the day bed, propped up against a mound of pillows and blankets, while VM would sprawl herself out on the rest of the day bed.  Usually, it wouldn’t take long for her to slide her ice cold feet under my precariously positioned legs and when I’d object, I’d be told to be quiet.

Vengeful Mother had waited only a beat or two, before turning the second bedroom of her duplex into an office, after, I, her third and final child, had made my escape.  Fortunately, this meant she also had a rolling task chair which provided an additional seating area.  CPA Sis tends to experience back problems, and, as we had just discovered earlier on that fateful day, was carrying within her Precious Niece #2, so this office chair made for the most appropriate seating option for CPA Sis

Precious Niece #1 was, at this time, about 13 1/2 months old.  She was off of bottles, but unfortuantely, CPA Sis and Mr. Fixit had failed to pack a “sippy-cup” for her before making the trek to Vengeful Mother’s abode.  It became popular opinion that PN1 was thirsty and VM only had bottles in her house.  So, while Mr. Fixit went into the kitchen to prepare a bottle with water, I sat down, temporarily to be sure, on the right end of the day bed, and VM sat in the middle.  CPA Sis was already seated in the office chair and PN1 was standing next to her trying somewhat to get the attention she needed, to get the assistance she needed to alight to her mother’s lap. 

Amidst the various conversation, movement and other chaos that was happening, Mr. Fixit returned to the living room with the bottle of water, walked up behind CPA Sis, placed the bottle against the front of her shoulder, released it, and allowed it to slide down her front to her lap.  The bottle stopped it’s trek when it arrived at her thigh and, naturally, landed on it’s side.  Vengeful Mother, ever the caring nurturer, said, “Oh, honey.  Pick that bottle up before it leaks on you and gets you wet.”  CPA Sis then picked up the bottle and held it out to Precious Niece #1 who showed no interest in it (although everyone was sure she’d been thirsty). 

When Precious Niece #1 rejected the proffered sustenance, CPA Sis reached over and set the bottle down on the daybed, on the left end, where I normally sat.  Now, you’ll recall that I described this day bed as “wobbly”.  It is also a plain, twin sized mattress, that had a 5’4″ 200+ lb woman sitting in the middle of it.  Naturally, the bottle fell over almost immediately…  And, no one seemed to care.  Finally, I said, “Could someone please set that bottle up?”  CPA Sis set it up, but she left it in the same spot, so it immediately fell over again.  I said, “Could someone please move that bottle before it gets the day bed wet?”  This is where this long story, finally gets “interesting”.

Vengeful Mother turned around and looked at me and said, “Just, quit complaining!” 

I said, (Or started to say), “I’m not complaining, but that bottle keeps falling over, and as you already pointed out it’s going to leak, and it’s going to get the day bed wet over there where I always end up sitting.”  I never got it all out though because by the time I got to “…but that bottle…” Vengeful Mother had wheeled around with…  well…  with vengefullness, in her eyes and put her hand up in front of my face.

Now, I’m not saying she was going to hit me.  I really don’t know, ’cause I wasn’t about to giver her the chance.  I pulled my head back and with hatred in my eyes and vicious anger in my voice I said, “DON’T, YOU, DARE!”  Now, you would think this would get her attention and make her think about her behavior in the situation.  You would think… But you’d be wrong.  Vengeful Mother simply squinted her eyes at me in a disdainful look and said, “Well, then, just stop.”  Part of me wishes she had actually hit me, because I do believe that would have been the straw that broke the camels back for me.  And part of me wishes I had said more anyway, but you see…  As I said, “You would think this would get her attention…”  It didn’t get her attention.  What it did do was get Precious Niece #1‘s attention and she looked at me with utter shock and confusion in such a way that broke my heart, and I never want to see again.

Now, this is just the beginning of a much bigger story, one which I’ll happily tell in future posts (lucky you), but the reason this event was “A Moment of Clarity” is this…  When it was over, and I had returned home to sunny California and had some time to think about it, I wrote a Manifesto, of sorts…At least as it applies to Vengeful Mother.  Here it is:

  1. I will not stay with her ever again.
  2. I won’t come to visit again unless I have someplace to stay (i.e. with Mr. Fixit and CPA Sis, another friend’s house, or a hotel) AND a car to drive completely at my disposal while I’m in town, whether it be a retnal or a loaner. (This is somewhat more complicated now, as Mr. Fixit & CPA Sis moved to New York last December.)
  3. I will not be ordered around.
  4. I will not be reprimanded.
  5. I will argue as needed.
  6. I will NOT argue in front of the children.
  7. I will not have a curfew or feel bad for disturbing those who wait up for me.
  8. I will be me and I will not be judged or condemed for my choices or my behavior.
  10. Pursuant to numbers 1-5, 6 (especially) and 9, I will walk out at whatever stage of any arguement or discussion that I see fit.

I realize now, that number 7 probably would not be an issue based on number 1, however it’s been such an issue over the years that it seems wise to keep it in there.