Friday, October 11, 2013

Memoir Challenge Day Six

The following is the second of 16 blog posts I'll--fingers crossed--be posting in the month of November as part of the October Memoir Challenge

Everything changes but when you’re young, you don’t know that.  Even though I grew up in a city where an art supply store could become a fast food place and a parking lot converted into an apartment building over ten stories high, I still believed some things would stay the same.  Or go back to how they were before my mother married an emotionally and verbally abusive man.  We’d been so happy before the marriage.  Okay.  I was so happy before the marriage, and I just knew our lives would go back to what they were as soon as it was just the two of us again.

Only it didn’t and, really, it wasn’t the two of us for very long.

We moved twice within a short timeframe and ended up on the Upper East Side.  A family friend of set my mother up on a blind date with a man he knew from group therapy, a man who would be perfect for my mother.  He wasn’t the first man she dated after the first marriage ended.  There was another man who still lived with his mother and couldn’t spend the night because his mother would worry.  Okay.  He wasn’t a man but he was old enough to be one even though he didn’t act like one.  He didn’t last long.  My mother may not have been fully recovered from the damage to her self-esteem abuse causes but she had enough emotional strength to end a dead end relationship when she was in one.

The blind date was a welcome distraction from her life of work and home and more work and home.  It was love at first sight.  For my mother it was, anyway.  She loved him.  She adored him.  She was mad for him.  She lost weight, bought new clothes, and did things to show her love for this new man.  She laid construction paper hearts from the elevator to our apartment door when she knew he was coming to pick her up for another date, eventually spending weekends with him, dragging me along with her.  She learned to cook fancy meals, using wine to flavor meats and side dishes, adding soufflés and escargot to her repertoire. 

I hated the new food and the boring town in New Jersey.  We would leave Friday evening and not return until Monday morning, her heading to work and me heading to school. 

It didn’t take me long to realize that my expectations about how things would be were very wrong.   Things couldn’t go back to the way they were because I was older.  Needless to say, my mother didn’t want things to go back to the way they were because, as you may recall, she was miserable back then.  So she wouldn’t want things to go back to how I expected them to be.

I don’t know if I expected it to last for long.  By this time I’d seen my mother date a man named Andrew (he had a motorcycle) and another named David (he was the one with the houseboat).  She had married and divorced and dated and dumped two other men.  I didn’t expect this man to be around for very long. 

Seven years later, they married and, as I write this, they are preparing to leave for Sicily to celebrate their 30th anniversary.  She loved him and continues to love him which is how I lost my mother the first time she got married and I lost her again the last time she fell in love.    

12 comments:

  1. Sad. It sounds tumultous. I feel torn because i can hear how much you wanted your mom and yet, as a woman, I feel happy she found her lifetime mate. I wish it could have been in a way that was more supportive to the girl you were at the time who still needed her mom to be a mom.

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    1. Torn is the perfect way to describe it all because I feel the same way. A part of me wishes she had focused on our relationship, on our mutual healing. But I'm also glad she found a man to love and love her, someone who has grown with her. And I learned a few things about mothering along the way so I think I was able to be a good mother to my own children. She might even say I was a better number but I wouldn't go so far.

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  2. While it is beautiful that your mom found someone to love and beloved by, it is sad tthat you never got back that mom you wanted.

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    1. Angie, It is so hard for women in a society that can't seem to tolerate the idea of a single unmarried woman, let alone mother, running loose. I think my mother didn't really stand a chance.

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  3. Oh wow this is sad and really gave me a mix of emotions reading it. I think this would be good for her to read someday. I know that probably sounds a bit much and it's none of my business so I hope that didn't come across wrong but I wonder if it would be good for her to read and good for you to "have read" if that makes sense?

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    1. OE, We have talked about it and I think it helped a lot that I had already made peace with so much that, when I told her how hurtful this all was for me, she was able to really hear what I had to say. So yes, it makes sense. Definitely.

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  4. I know Joe has told me he's seen at least one Nancy Friday book in your house, have you read "My mother, my self"? I have a copy of it. I started to read it but I don't really think I could relate to what it was saying. But if you haven't read it, I will give you my copy to have.

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    1. Erin, Yes, my mother and I both read it when it first came out so I was . . . 15? . . . I think. Anyway. It was a while ago.

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  5. I sort of figured you'd read it. If you want my copy, you can have it even though you've read it. It pretty much just sitting on my bookshelf. If you don't want it, that's fine too.

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    1. I reread it in my 20s but I don't think I'd want to read it again. I know your sisters are not readers like you are but perhaps one of them would find some insight from it. Maybe. Or we can plan a trip to the second hand bookstore, you and I, and maybe trade what we don't want in for books we do want.

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  6. It sounds like your life was made up of a rollercoaster ride of relationships. I'm sorry you weren't able to find the right balance with your mother, but I hope you and your husband are as happy together thirty years from now.

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    1. I hope we are as well. The amazing thing is that my mother didn't and still doesn't see herself as attractive. It isn't that she's pretty or anything but she attracts people into her life and they adore her. She has very good and loving friends.

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