8:27 p.m. - February 11, 2006
After the training ended today I drove to Maryland and am now ensconced at my mother's house. Bad karma I've decided, that I'd visit on an evening when I cannot possibly leave. The drive here was challenging enough when there was far less snow on the ground and those times I drove in snowy Seattle have not prepared me for this type of (perilous?) chains-ice-snow-crazy-drivers situation. So I'm here at my mom's place desperately wishing I could leave but instead pleaded for alone time, claiming training-exhaustion, and managed to obtain a respite of 30 minutes before my mother wants to play mom again.
She is hurt or angry, likely both, over our dinner conversation. We (mother, her partner, and I) were talking about the eventual die-off of the family, given none of us is planning on children, though my brother is always surprising me so it's better to say two definite no's and one unknown. At any rate the conversation picked up when Mom's Partner mentioned something she had read in the paper recently about the influence of the parenting a child is exposed to on that child's eventual desire to have children of his/her own. My mother asked point blank, do you feel your preference not to have children is a result of your father and I? I asked if she wanted a truthful response because it might make her uncomfortable - she assented, and I said yes, I'm certain her children's anti-gene perpetuation is due in part to our parenting. I don't suppose that is ever a good thing to tell one's mother, but it's true. My mother was a social butterfly whose causes or interests or campaigns came first. Yes, she was a teacher, but she checked out nights and weekends for what she called her "me time" and could be unencumbered by her children. It's simple - she made choices and now wonders, 20 years later, why her children aren't close to her in proximity or emotional intimacy.
She got defensive and began cataloguing sins: I was always a secretive child who did his own thing. My sister was rebellious and rejected parenting. My brother was a sister's-boy who didn't need my mother at all. I was (am?) too independent and won't open up. My sister is controlling. My brother is a leaf in the wind (this is a beautiful sign I wish I could show here. It's wonderfully evocative). On and on she went, and I just sat there and let her have her say. Times like these I shut down and a tempest becomes iced over enough for ice skating. I simply reminded her she had asked, and that we were having an adult conversation, the past is the past - whatever peacemaking skills I have I pulled out of the bag, but this bag is frayed and not very deep.
I suppose - I hope - all children and parents are like this. I do know that my mother's coup de grace isn't likely to be thrown at children: You say terrible things about me because I'm a lesbian and you're narrow-minded and prejudiced. Had to roll my eyes at that one because she wasn't a lesbian until after she checked out.
I came to visit because I was close and it has been a long time since my last visit. I think deep inside I wanted some maternal-something, some kind of a Son, I'm so proud of you and this book or even maybe a hand clasp or something. I think the closest I got to that tonight was the scalloped potatoes she cooked - one of my favorites growing up, including the tomato layer. Maybe she doesn't feel close to me word-wise and God knows how difficult I make it for people to be word-wise-close to me, but it was a kind gesture. I just wish things were different, but I wish that often. Family and friends: I long for them with such an ache but like my bloodline, they're quickly coming to an end. That is unfortunate.
The snow is beautiful, though.