Posts tagged mom
I’ve realized something: I no longer depend on my parents for advice. Mostly, I feel that their advice is laden with archaisms and the prejudice of a previous era. Like many queers, I feel my parents have not addressed issues affecting my life to my satisfaction. And because of this, the paths of communication have, essentially, been closed, open only to the most necessary exchanges. This, ultimately, only functions to further my own sense of alienation from my home and from my parents, in particular.
Now, as a bitter queer Latino, I normally wouldn’t care. Like many other things I am particularly bitter about, I would dismiss the situation as out of my control and push it out of my mind (only to dwell on it at night, of course, thanks to my inherited Mexican Catholic guilt). However, with the help of a very good friend, I have realized that it is very much within my control, and apparently, I am much more to blame than I would care to admit, mostly due to my own obliviousness to my manipulative ways.
Allow me to explain. As many of you familiar with my writing may know, I have serious Mami issues. There is always a silent stalemate at work beneath our interactions. On the surface, it all seems fine, but debajo – ¡uy! – there is a ciénaga of things at work, where every word that is exchanged is charged with underlying meaning meant to “change” the other into what we envision is correct (for me: the Cher to my Chaz; for my mom: the Jesús to her María, without the dying single part of course).
Now, you ask, how is this your fault, Karari? I couldn’t see it, either. But apparently, I am incredibly transparent. My emotions linger somewhere where I don’t see them but where everyone else can, almost like a one-way mirror. Now, I can hear a few of you snickering out there, but I really thought I had total control of my emotional cues. It comes to a great shock to me, that, sadly, I do not. So, whenever I would feel my mom was a bad mom, she would feel it, too. Eventually, with repeated exposure to the “you’re a terrible mother” vibe, my mom came to believe it, and thus began to act on the expectation I had of her. After all, what’s the point in trying if you’re already terrible?
And so my dear reader, this is where we find ourselves. Our relationship has slowly degenerated to a laundry list of regrets, resentments, y recuerdos of a happy past. And, honestly, this is not what I want, even if the material that stems from this toxic relationship makes for great literary drama. I want to have a healthy relationship with my mom. I want to be able to talk to her about lots of different things without being afraid of our conversation erupting into another Mexican-American conflict. I want what it seems everyone, but me, has.
I have always been jealous of the relationships my exes have had with their moms. Y’s mom was all up in his business, and from the looks of it, he liked it, because it showed that she cared enough to know the all the details (yes, including our sex life). E’s mom, on the other hand, was much less nosy. However, she and E still had a great communication that allowed for both to express their feelings. It goes without saying, that when I was dating their sons, I was also accepted. And this bothered me to no end. I always wondered: why can’t I have this with my mom? There are times (and I’m not proud of this) that I resented my exes for the relationships they had with their moms, even going as far as secretly believing that if anyone deserved to have the healthy, after-school special relationship with their mom, it was obviously me.
Thanks to my conversations with my aforementioned friend, I have recently begun to realize that they worked for that relationship; It didn’t just happen. Yes, it helped that E’s mom was college educated, or that Y’s mom wasn’t particularly religious. However, what helped more was that both E and Y turned to their moms for every day advice, whether if it was how to make oven-baked enchiladas or what the perfect birthday present for a pretentious Mexican, like myself, would be.
Even now, this boggles my US American-assimilated-Mexican, independent mind. If I need a ride to the airport or to the store, I rather drive myself or find an alternative way of getting there. If I am lost, I Google directions or call a friend. I, in general, avoid turning to my parents for petty things. In my head, I feel that they have enough things to worry about. They don’t need to be bothered with random occurrences that can easily be remedied on my own. So, instead of calling my mom, and asking her how to make pozole, I simply looked up a (much healthier) recipe on Epicurious and solved the problem myself, not realizing that in doing so, I was effectively letting my mom know that I didn’t need her knowledge, and by extension, I didn’t need her.
This is not conductive to the relationship I wish to develop with my mom. She wants to feel needed, just like we all do. There was a time when I needed her for everything. But now, it seems that I need her less and less. Because of this, she often attempts to reestablish the old order of things, where she was the mother and I was the obedient child, choosing to ignore the fact that I am no longer that little boy who did her eyebrows and zipped up her dresses. When I am treated like a child, I instantly become belligerent and close up to all advice, even if it may be beneficial for me. However, if I open myself up to her (and I know this will be hard) for advice or for help, she will feel more secure in the ways our relationship is developing and, therefore, will not attempt to return to the parent-child power dynamic.
I must admit though, that even as I write this, I am getting exhausted. There is a lot of resentment that I need to get over. I am still hurt from many of the things that my mom said initially to me when I came out. Ignoring them hasn’t made them go away. But, recent events have shown me that I may not have all the time in the world with my mom; I may very well die tomorrow. Or worse, she may very well die tomorrow. Being a bitter queer Latino I can handle. But a bitter queer Latino with a laundry list of unresolved regrets, resentments, y recuerdos? That, I’m not quite too sure.
“He didn’t call today,” Carmen thinks as she pours a cup of coffee for herself – six creams, no sugar. With the cup in her hand, she walks over to the calendar and writes it down: no llamó. Tomorrow is the 23rd; only eight days until the end of the month. She counts the days, caressing each boldfaced number as if, like a magic lamp, doing so would return the days. “Catorce,” she mutters aloud. It’s been fourteen days since the last time her son called. Before then, it had been eleven. “A new record,” she thinks. The thought, like an onion, stings her eyes. “Run cold water.” Her mom taught her that. She turns the faucet and proceeds to wash dishes, ignoring how numb her hands get.
“Y Ériq, ¿cómo está?”
“Pues bien. El pobre anda trabajando mucho.”
Carmen looks down at her coffee cup. Staring hard at the conch swirls of the cream, she wishes they would reveal something: how he’s doing, where he’s been, or even when he’ll call again. But her mom never taught her how to read coffee grounds. Even if she had, this one’s instant.
The phone rings.
“It’s him,” she instantly assumes. Wiping her hands on her apron, she picks up the phone.
“Would you like to change jobs? Are you tired of working from paycheck to paycheck not knowing if this is the month where you fall under? Do you have mounting…”
Carmen sits down and listens to the recording loop over and over again, quietly nodding to herself.
“Hola, mi’jo. Qué bueno escuchar tu voz. Sé que has de estar ocupado, pero cuando puedas, llámame por favor. Te quiero mucho.”
She hangs up.
“He’s at work,” she assures herself. “Yes, probably busy at work.”
But it’s 9 pm.
She wakes up late. It’s past 9 am; she has missed morning mass.
Instead of doing her usual daily cleaning, Carmen goes down to the basement. From inside a large, blue Tupperware tub, she takes out all of her photo albums. Upstairs, as she flips through it’s yellowed pages, she comes across a lock of Eriq’s hair. She remembers it very well.
It was from when he was 18 months old. On his highchair, he had been eating his vegetables, most of them ending up on his head instead of inside his little tummy. He had been giggling, shaking his head, peas and carrots flying everywhere. When he stopped, a curl – a little upside-down “e” – landed squarely on his forehead. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. She couldn’t help but want to remember that exact moment forever. With her manicure scissors, she carefully snipped it and placed it in the album.
It doesn’t seem like 26 years have since passed. She takes out the lock and smells it, but it doesn’t smell like the Johnson & Johnson’s shampoo she recalls using. Instead, it smells like nothing at all.
She drops her cup. “World’s Greatest Mom” shattering on the floor: a birthday present from Ériq from when he was 9.
She bends over and attempts to pick up the pieces, but slips and falls on her knees.
She angrily bangs her fist on the broken shards, pieces of cheap porcelain puncturing her skin.
“¡Con razón no te llama!”
She burns her hands on the hot coffee – six creams, no sugar, some blood, plenty of tears.
“¡Eres una vieja inútil! ¡No sirves pa’ nada! ¡Mejor ya muerta!”
Sobbing, Carmen lies in the hot coffee until it turns cold, reading her misfortune in the pieces; “World’s Greatest” now reads “Wor/st”
“He didn’t call today,” Carmen thinks as she carefully pours a cup of coffee for herself; the bandages on her hands make it difficult for her to hold it by the handle. With the cup in both hands, she walks over to the calendar and writes it down: no llamó.
The phone rings.
“Hola, mami. ¿Cómo estás?”
“¡Mi’jo! ¡Qué bueno que llamas! Yo muy bien. Ya pensaba que ya te habías olvidado de mí.”
“¿De ti ‘ma? ¡Nunca!”
As her son proceeds to tell her, with white lies and half-truths, what he’s done since they’ve last spoke, she walks over to the calendar. Scratching out the previous sentence, she writes “hoy se acordó.”