May 12, 2010

Oh, Mother's Day. I hate you.

I hate Mother's Day.

It makes me feel like a bad daughter, sister, granddaughter, and friend because I can't/don't do more for the mother-figures in my life. It reminds me that I don't call them enough, that I only see them maybe once or twice a year. It forces me stop ignoring my mom and her problems. And it makes me jealous and resentful of those who do not appreciate their own mothers more.

I don't really talk about my mom to anyone. Not because I'm ashamed of her or because I don't love her. I am just not affected on a daily basis by her and, therefore, don't have a reason to bring her up in everyday conversation. Not like the mom who may live right down the street and who is always up in your business. Besides, when I do talk about her, people give me weird looks that linger somewhere between pity and shock.

Like this.

See? I always manage to squeeze in a photo or two.

I thought for a long time whether I even wanted to blog about her. In the end, I decided to because, well, this is my outlet. And hey, who knows? Maybe someone will read this and see a bit of him/herself and choose to change the lifestyle they are leading. Maybe she will even read this and see the situation as I see it. I doubt that, though. Let's be realistic.

To make a nearly 20-year-long story short, my mom got into some serious drugs and drinking when I was a kid. To be fair, her wild nature made her the fun mom among my friends. I have fond memories of watching movies and drinking with her after school let out. I watched as she tripped on 'shrooms with my sister or rapped the words to Warren G's "Regulator" with surprising accuracy. She was a cool mom. However, when paired with her bipolar outbursts, she could become viciously scary. But that's a potential blog post (or a book, hey!) for another day.

Over the last, mmm, ten years, she's bounced from detox to jail to rehab to hospitals to homelessness and back to detox. The combination of time, substances, and a hard life have eroded her mind and her body.

Fast-forward to the present. I called her a couple days before Mother's Day. This day and her birthday tend to be the only times of the year that I remember to call her. And that makes me ashamed, because I could do much more for her than I do, even if I live 500 miles away (and happy for the distance).

Anyhow, as is usual for when I do try to call, her phone now belongs to some strange man who cannot tell me what has become of her. Strangely, she calls me back the next night. She sounds gleeful, like a giddy teenage girl in love. This is also not unusual. I listen as she tells me all about the latest man in her life, how they go to church together, how good he treats her, how she spent the last two months in detox, and is now nine days sober. I congratulate her, tell her I'm proud of her. We talk ever-so-briefly about my life, squeezing the last six months' worth of life events into a two-minute segment before she confides that she and her boyfriend are not having sex yet.

Overall it's a good conversation.

But then she calls this afternoon. Since I'm at work, I do not answer. She leaves a voicemail (which, anyone who knows me are aware that I don't actually listen to my voicemails). She then calls again. And again. Finally, I answer.

I can tell she's drunk even before she admits it, halfway through the conversation. Immediately, I know she needs money. She tells me, in slurred chaotic words, that my brother is being "a butt" but forgets that line of thinking before elaborating more on why that is. She says my sister's husband owes her money, but he won't answer his phone, and would I call him for her?

In a serious tone she reserves for trying to convince me that she's sober and rational, she explains that she needs $200 to pay her rent by tomorrow. She asks if I would send money to her. I say no, I'm broke until I get paid on Friday. She asks if I will put the money on a credit card. I tell her I don't have a credit card. She talks about random people who have the money to pay me back. "Sherry has $1,200 she's gettin' on Thursday. She can pay you back, I swear!" I don't know who Sherry is. I reiterate that I don't have money, with the implication being, "I would not hand over cash to you, even if I did. You need groceries? I'll send a gift card. Clothing? I'll buy it myself and send it. Cash? Hell, no."

After stumbling a bit, calling me by my sister's name repeatedly (which seems to be happening a lot lately), she finally accepts that she will have to get her rent money from someone else. I tell her I'm at work and need to hang up. She says, "Oh, but Kelli, what do you say?!"

What she wants me to say is "I'm my mommy's little, pretty girl," which is an affirmation she used to make me say when, as a child, I suffered from a very low self-esteem. It was one of the few sweet, sentimental tidbits from my childhood...which she has since cheapened over the years, by making me say it to her whenever she feels like a bad mother--or whenever she wants me to perform for yet another new boyfriend who will put her into the hospital within a month's time.

"Tell me what you say, Kelli!"

I hang up.


MissLiv said...

Oh man, that is hard. My best friends mum is an alcoholic and its much the same. It's hard to watch someone you care about (in this case, my best friend) be hurt. My friend moved states, and since my parents live across the road from her parents, I still hear awful stories of her ringing my mum up drunk and such. I don't tell my friend though, I don't want to hurt her more.

Trish said...

Ah Kell.. I don't even know what to say beyond mother's day sucks and addiction sucks harder. :(

Kelli said...

MissLiv, you're a good friend. I bet she would appreciate that you are protecting her.