My mom came to visit me a few weeks ago. It was not our best visit ever. It was certainly not our worst. I only cried like, twice, the whole time she was here. Unfortunately, it was in a very busy restaurant at lunch time, and my make-up was PERFECT-so I spent a lot of time doing that weird, wide eyed, blinky face that girls do when they don’t want to ruin their mascara. Head tilted back, blink, blink, blink, waving your hands like fans at your face in some bizarre effort to, what? Dry the water out of your eyeballs? Anyway…
Something very odd happens to me when my mom is coming for a visit. For about ten days before she arrives, I am very, VERY excited. I love my mom! Everybody loves my mom- she is fun and outgoing, full of energy and laughter and encouragement. She’s quite the little whirlwind, my mom, and I am really and truly a fan. But you know…we all have many facets to our personalities. And she’s MY MOM. So, about four days before she is due to show up, I start to get a little stressed. At three days ’til, I begin to see my
home through the eyes of the woman who raised me, and wonder how in the hell I never realized what a pig pen in the back alley of a dump my house is. Two days prior, I start to clean in earnest and simultaneously begin to loathe every living creature that lives in this house with me. Filthy ingrates. Do they think their cereal bowls are going to walk themselves to the kitchen sink? A few more days, and they probably would sprout legs and mosey on out the front door. I mutter a lot of very uncharitable things about the people I am surrounded with, and/or created myself, only kind of under my breath, and they try to stay out of my way.
I wrote something funny about this a long time ago, about how my mom can see dirt that no one else can see- dirt on other planets, even. I still stand by it. I don’t know what happened to me, but I got some kind of recessive slob gene that prevents me from giving a shit about how things look for longer than a few days. I just don’t care. I mean, I care what other people think of me, obviously, or I wouldn’t pick up EVER, no matter who was coming over. But it only bothers me to the degree that I allow myself to even notice. I really, honestly, don’t pay a whole lot of attention-maybe it’s a self-protective, learned behavior that I built up over the years just to keep myself from going nuts in the midst of my rubble. Maybe I’m just gravely disgusting. I don’t know. I do know, however, that in those two days before my mom gets here, those blinders come OFF, and I clean until I am physically incapable of doing one more thing. My mother has a beautiful home now, the latest in a string of beautiful homes she has lived in. I’m not saying they were fancy homes, by any means. But my mom can really put a house together, make it look homey and cozy and comfortable, in like five minutes. We were very poor when I was a kid, but our homes were always the nicest of all my friends. Not overdone and anxiety provoking, as if putting your hand on the wall would be a fucking catastrophe, but attractive and inviting. When I was younger, even after I’d gone out on my own, I loved bringing people to my mom’s house-it sort of made me feel like they could see where I came from and think, “oh, this girl is not at all the lame-o she seems to be. Look at how NICE her mother’s house is. She must be a nice girl, coming from such a pretty home.” Of course, I am way too old for that, now. Now the only thing her decorating skills and aptitude for neatness do for me is make me hyperventilate. And clean, really, really well, for two solid days before every visit.
Which, I think, is part of the problem. You see, by the time she comes rolling down my street in her sleek, silver BMW and pulls up with a happy wave in front of my ramshackle little home, I have worked up a serious attitude problem. I am upset that I am so tired, upset that my house is still not perfect, upset that I am upset, again, and also mad that I had to make myself and children presentable on top of the stupid house. I am no longer ready for company, I’m ready for a stint in a psych ward. Why can’t my mom just love me as I am? Why do I have to work so hard to STILL fall short? Yeah, I go through this every single time.
I want to tell you- she has gotten SO much better in the last couple of years. She tries really hard to not criticize my place or me, because she knows I will completely freak out, I’m sure. See, I become hyper-vigilant and painfully sensitive to her every comment. I am ready to pounce at the slightest of slights. Last time she was here, after busting my ASS for days, do you know what she said to me that sent me over the edge? She said “Why don’t you wipe down your garbage can, Courtney? Gross.” Hmm…okay, not the nicest comment ever, and probably unnecessary, but worth remembering and rehashing and repeating to my coworkers and friends? Probably not. I believe my reply to her was “Well, it IS where I keep my GARBAGE, mom. Nobody eats out of it.” But I was thinking- ‘two days straight of busting my ass to clean, and she notices the fucking garbage can?’. The minute she left, I scrubbed that bastard, then yelled at Devon. I don’t know why I yelled at him, but it helped.
My mom loves me, I know, more than anyone else in the world. She thinks so much of me and has such confidence in me, she is so sure of my capabilities of world-domination, that I think it is really easy for me to disappoint her. I know for a fact that she does not set out to hurt me- as a matter of fact, I don’t even know if she knows that she does. I act like such an asshole when we are around each other, she probably just thinks that’s how I am now. Actually, she thinks it was all the drugs- she thinks I am stuck in a perpetual amphetamine headlock. I’m not saying there isn’t, maybe, some element of truth in that…I know I am a little high strung (a little?! Ha!). But, HELLO? Where does she think I got it? Ask anyone who knows my mom, and they will be able to tell you, for sure, it was not my dad who could be a little…intense.
Well, I better publish this before I chicken out. If she gets mad at me, I will totally flip out! Just kidding.