Like right now, things with W and I are going really well, but my relationship with my folks is on the rocks. I can’t seem to maintain all of the important relationships in my life simultaneously.
It’s like a real-life game of Whac-A-Mole. Once I get one relationship firing on all cylinders, a relationship in need of work pops up. I don’t seem to have enough wooden mallets or enough arms to keep everything in place.
When I’m not thinking of the relationships in my life in terms of unpredictable moles, I see them as stars in the night sky. They shine against the darkened backdrop, their brightness varying. When one of the stars is dimmed by conflict and confusion, it can’t link to the others and contribute to a bigger picture. These days, I just can’t seem to connect all of the stars in my life so that they form some sort of grand constellation.
I’ve been in some sort of tiff with my mother for almost 10 years.
If she was here right now, she’d probably tell you that she can’t seem to do anything right when it comes to me. She once told me that she often hangs up the phone after our conversations and tells my dad that she “blew it” once again.
This breaks my heart. That my mother experiences pain because of me. That our mother-daughter relationship is so mangled that neither one of us can get it right.
I could write about the million ways that my mother has wronged me over the years. I keep that list in my head and at the ready. I’m always quick to point a finger at her and often scroll down that mental list for justification.
Number 52: You wouldn’t let me go to Boston University for college. I would be so much more hip and evolved if I had attended an urban school.
Number 103: You let Michael stay out later because he was a boy. It was the 80’s — not the 50’s — for crying out loud. This contributed to my skewed perception of gender roles and stereotypes.
But that’s too easy. Fish. Barrel. Dynamite. Kaboom!
Besides, I thought it might be more productive to focus on the positive things.
A few things that made my mother a great parent
- Sometimes she would stick packs of cards — like Wacky Packs — in our packed school lunches.
- She used to buy me the latest and the greatest sneakers. Like my first pair of Nike Roadrunners (light blue with a navy blue stripe) in 1976. I don’t think my dad knew how much they cost.
- When it snowed, she would make peanut butter cookies with crisscrossing fork prints and hot chocolate.
- She liked the Three Stooges.
- She taught me how to drive because my dad lacked the patience and yelled too much.
- She never embarrassed me in front of my friends.
- She let us camp out on the couch when we were sick and made us jelly and butter sandwiches and brought us glasses of ginger ale.
- One Valentine’s Day when Craig Magachy showed up at our door in a suit bearing a card and a heart-shaped box of candy, she discreetly hid the candy and promised to keep the whole thing on the down low so that my brother wouldn’t find out about my pint-size pursuer and tease me.
- She chaperoned every one of my grade school field trips.
- She always made sure that I had everything that I needed.
I hope that I can remember this list more often instead of that other one that runs as a continual news feed in my brain.
Who knows, maybe it will change things. It certainly can’t hurt.
Maybe this is the one relationship that I need to get right and burning bright to get my relationship constellation.