At the end of 2013, I had become frustrated with my mom for mom-ing me. She had wanted to fly to the city and stay with me so she invited herself, as was her way. There was nothing unfamiliar about this - mom had always picked up the slack when it came to visits. And, I was relieved because I had found myself missing her that whole year. There hadn’t been alone time since before I’d become a mom. But, for a reason, there was a fight in me so I fought her reverse-invitation. “You can’t just come uninvited,” I pointed out, explaining the logistics of having a one bedroom Manhattan apartment versus the 3-bedroom BedStuy place I’d had before. She was distressed. She was angry. And, she realized that she couldn’t do what she had always done for a decade when I started at Fordham, as was our way.
My brother implored me to listen to her. So when I did, I was surprised to find that she no longer wanted to come.
Now, I can think of nothing more painful than my own daughter rejecting me. (She is only 4 so I have time.) And not because I suffered through childbirth to provide her into the world, as moms often invoke, but because your kids can never really belong to you. Like paint drying, these beings are bound to fixed onto another form other than the artist. I was fixing myself onto the form of woman.
A week or so after this exchange, after a series of phone conversions in which my mom sounded drunk, tired or disoriented, and unlike her sunny self, we learned that she had a stroke. The breast cancer that had been banished in 2010 had returned, reaching and spawning into several brain tumors.
I want to sometimes go back. There was a vacation in 2008, after I left a relationship I had suffered in. As soon as I left, my Mom called me, “Let’s go to Mexico,” she said. I was ashamed to be alone in a room with someone who really knew me, but I didn’t have the energy to resist. We went to Puerto Vallarta and if I think about it now, it was a simple vacation. It was vivid and resides in the child part of me. We dined on crab meat in avocado, we watched fireworks from the ocean view patio. We drank margaritas in the pool. We took a time-share tour so we could get discount passes to zip lining. She was dizzy with her fear of heights so I moved on with the rest of the group of tourists while she stayed behind. I zipped over rivers and jungle terrain like an uncoordinated batman. She waved me on. Her blond curls falling out of her helmet. “Go ahead.” So I did.