Poor Mom.

I used to blame my parents for a lot of my difficulties. It's gotten immensely better but in moments of frustration I'm still tempted to go there. This is not reasonable. Lots of people overcome. Or they OWN their failure. Or they forgive.
My mother always told me that our money was none of anyone's business. That people could not be trusted. I knew she was hiding my dad's illness and corresponding unemployability, our debt, our welfare checks... I didn't begin to specifically care that we were poor until kids began to make fun of me. This was a New York city housing project where no one was doing very well, but as cruelty comes naturally to little boys, a few of them began to question me and make fun our situation.  
They'd see my dad's car. The one that mom made him park at least a block away from resturaunts or social events so that no one would put HER and IT together.  
They'd seen us walking home from the community center carrying provisions. Government cheese. We qualified. Some didn't.
But I knew that however much I hated it, my parents hated it more. Dad in a quiet, self loathing glaze. Mom ever shocked by missing her boat...living beneath her taste in trendy neighborhoods and artful things.
My mom said "you need to make a lot of money". She always said to go into computers...computers are gonna be hot. Be a lawyer. Be a doctor. You can't do music for a living. Do it on the side. Or marry rich. I hated that one, but it did kinda have a nice buzz to it...
When I moved in with Jackie whose dad was a wealthy real estate developer, my parents felt as if I'd hit the lottery. Jackie was a smart, spoiled, and over tanned twenty one year old rebel with a Porsche, a Mazarati and a deviated septum. She tried to mold me and screamed at me that my parents raised me wrong. We lived together with Andrea in the downstairs of a huge new North Shore house and my band practiced weekly in the basement until the asshole upstairs called the cops. We fought incessantly and I gained fifty pounds. She wanted me to commit but I wouldn't and when she told me it was over, I freaked out. She had a boyfriend waiting. I think she married him. My parents loved me but were confused.
Later, Sitting at my parents dinette table we were talking about my music and mom was kvelling and supportive until she said something about it never working out and having to have real employment in order to survive and more of the fear stuff. In truth, she wasn't wrong. But I was immediately angry at her for dismissing my hearts desires and my hard work, but also for how she had switched off her own happy place in favor of fear and insecurity. And mine.
Every bit of my frustration rose to the surface. I told her that my failure was because of what SHE'D taught me. Her continually asserting that money needed to come before passion or that they had to be seperate. That she knew nothing and her poverty-speak had affected me in incurably negative ways. I'd kept finding myself destitute and never given my music and my art a full shot because of reservations that SHE had planted in my brain. I was a loser and her bullshit was to blame.
She heard me out.
Then said, "Sit down."
I sat.
"When I was a little girl". She said "no one could get a job. My mother stood over my father." She said "He was sitting at the table with his face in his hands. And my mother bent to his ear and screamed WE NEED FOOD! Go get FOOD!"
She went on to tell me how her dad cried in frustration as there was no money to be made. No food to be gotten. How her family had always struggled and gone without.
She told me that she worries about me and how she didn't want me to suffer the way she had. 
And she told me that she didn't know any other way and that she was trying to help me. Not hurt me. And that I should cut it out. 
She was pissed. 
And she was clear.  
And we cried.
And she was right.


Leave a comment

Add comment