It’s become clear to me that other than our tempers, when it comes to the big things, my mother and I are polar opposites.
I started yesterday morning off fine & was taking pics of some of what I was pulling from the garden (didn’t want to risk losing them to the storm). We had a little texting conversation, but I had to do some things like feed the fish and so I called so I could talk one handed.
It started out nice enough for about a minute or two with talking about the garden and how the rainwater will help with nutrients and so will lightning. Mom didn’t know that, and then ended up talking about the great questions that we don’t know about, but God posed 40 q’s to Job in the Bible, and we only know the answer to three (going on four, she said).
…Oh, the Universe help me.
I admit I tend to clench reflexively when I hear biblical stuff from her, even though I am actively trying to read the Bible for myself. I have to restart Proverbs because I’ve been too distracted lately and know I zoned out the last few times I tried to read them. But she’s also a proponent of the prosperity gospel, which has me seething every time I think about it.
Now, I haven’t discussed God or the Bible to or with mom since I was about 17 or 18. Maybe I wrote something on Facebook once or twice that she caught, or commented on someone’s thread that she saw, or maybe she’s found this blog and didn’t want to say anything (doubt that last one–she would’ve been blowing up my phone long before now). But something made her suddenly start bringing up God all the time, even before I talked to one of my cousins a few months ago. I don’t think I said anything to my cousin over the phone, but maybe I’ve seemed depressed to her. Mom’s belief is that I should just believe all will be well and get over things.
That’s always hilarious to me, because she can carry a grudge to the end of time herself.
But I can’t fake sincerity. I remember she got mad at me once when I was in the dumps as a teen and she kept telling me to say “all is well” or “all will be well.” I can’t fake that, so I just repeated it, ticked off, just to make her stop. It went on for 45 minutes and she was pissed off that I wasn’t being sincere.
Uh, how the hell can I be sincere if I don’t believe that will work?
That was probably the last time I brought up anything like that to her.
So, back to yesterday… because I had a girls’ night in for the first time ever and had too much fun talking and blowing off steam to finish this before midnight. Wine is better with friends.
I don’t quite remember how we got there, but I do know that somehow we went from biblical Job to how science doesn’t know everything, to me quitting my job. Well, that opened her up to optimistic gushing about how I can get a full time teaching job and that’s what the universe had planned for me all along.
It put a dent in her ideas when I said I don’t want to teach in a school anymore, that I don’t like the testing and whatnot.
So, she went on about how people are yanking their kids out of school and I could teach online instead.
I said I was gonna stay home, “babysit”, and get back into writing and make that my thing, or at least give myself permission to go all out and see how far I can really get.
She stopped that train of thought. She sounded annoyed or angry, and said that she’d been writing for years and you gotta have someone discover you and see that you’re worth a damn.
It took me a second to process that (and probably could’ve used a bit more time, honestly), but something in me just hurt at that moment. I was being shut down and told I was stupid in a mom sort of way, that I needed a day job and to focus on that, even though she said for years that because I was so into writing, maybe I should go for that. Now that I am giving up that safety net, she’s backpedaling on that earlier praise.
But that initial hurt carried through. She insisted I could work from home, which is what I was talking about, but I was talking writing. She figured I could do online teaching from home and help homeschooling kids who weren’t going back to public school. She got really excitable (angrily) about how because schools teach garbage and are ripping apart and rewriting history, I should teach that way.
As soon as she said “history,” I thought to myself, “oh, hell no. You didn’t just go there, did you?”
Mom thinks my teaching degree is in elementary school, even though I’ve mentioned I am certified for high school only at least a dozen times. And my specialty is social studies, with a heavy emphasis on history.
I love history. I love to read about history. I do whatever I can to learn more about history. And then she went to criticize teaching history (which has a bunch wrong with it, admittedly), but more the PC-ness of it or trying to re-write it. And she said I could teach kids right instead of teaching liberal garbage.
I told her I’d probably be one of those teachers teaching beyond rah-rah patriotism and giving more of that liberal history.
And then she exploded.
I don’t know what she meant by it, but she brought the bible back into it. We were suddenly off into who-knows-where in the discussion, and I can’t remember it all. I do distinctly remember her telling me that slavery’s been around forever and was natural. I don’t know what she was trying to tell me, and I didn’t think to ask “so does that mean it was a good thing?” I said that there has to be a counter-narrative to the idea that people (especially down here) who cling to the Confederate myths say, the ones saying slavery wasn’t that bad and they were well treated, etc. I said that can’t stand because it’s not true.
And somehow we ended up talking so fast and furious we were having two different conversations at once. I should’ve expected that because I guess I just outed myself as a liberal to her and she couldn’t stand it. She went on about the destruction and protesters and peaceful assembly… somehow hitting most of the latest FUX news talking points (despite saying months ago that she avoided that channel). And then she said that even many black people were saying that all this was dumb and shouldn’t be happening.
I kept asking “who?” when I could get a second in.
She mentioned Ben Carson as one. And I tried not to laugh.
I mentioned that Ben might be a great neurosurgeon, but he keeps saying that the pyramids were built to store grain. Mom argued against that. Then I said “go look up the footage, it’s out there.” She answered, “Well, they were!”
I don’t know if she believes that or just said it to shut me up, but it worked. I just shook my head and said–for the third time–that we need to agree to disagree, and I gotta go to work. I didn’t wait for a response, I rushed through it and hung up.
I admit, the speed and ferocity of those two or three minutes left me visibly shaking in anger, and I’m glad no one else was around but the dogs. I just couldn’t believe what had gone on, and over stupid shit. It also made me more aware than ever that there’s really nothing me and my mother have in common anymore, other than our tempers, it seems.
I’d felt like an orphan a good chunk of my life, with little or no family to speak of that I could reach out to or wanted to reach out to me. Didn’t matter, really. It took talking with my S.B.C. for an hour (in which I knew she had some stuff to vent, too, so we took turns) and some wine and good conversation tonight to help me try to relax and get over it. At least work went well today and I didn’t have to worry so much about that. A bad work day would’ve made me explode.
If mom showed up on my doorstep today to see me, and bothered to actually see me or look at the things I’ve done, she’d be so fucking disappointed in me. Not only am I almost jobless (or “in transition,” which is my preferred way to look at it), but I also shaved my head, am liberal, an atheist, I support gender/sex rights and black lives matter, and for all she knows I committed the egregious sin of voting democrat in the last election.
Yeah, I’m all of those things.
And I’m also a firm believer that if she felt she had to make the choice between her God and me, she’d choose God any day of the week and twice on Sunday, even if she doesn’t go to church anymore. All the books she seems to have ever read since school have been books from Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and most of those prosperity preachers. Oh, and the Bible, of course. Other than textbooks about different jobs she had to learn and do, I don’t recall ever seeing much else.
She’d choose God first and foremost. I suppose that’s fair: if it was a choice of being her clone or pursuing truth and goodness and reality, I’m gonna choose the latter.
This may be paranoia, and probably is, but I have a feeling she’d probably disinherit me over this. I’m at the point that my soul is so drained, I’d be totally okay with it. She could give the money to my god-squad cousins if she wants, because I don’t give a damn. To me, having a mind of one’s own (or pursuing it) is far better and more worth it than a pile of gold. We can’t talk to each other anymore, and it’s not just today. Today was just a peek through the door of total truth. My head would probably explode if I went any further right now.
If she decides to show up at the end of summer, I can only wonder what that would be like. Would it be a repeat of the last awkward time, only more awkward because of all that lies unsaid? If we can’t talk or meet as human beings, then there’s no point for her to be here or make the effort. I can’t tiptoe around family members anymore, and her least of all. It’s alarming how two people from the same family can be of totally opposite thought processes and preferences and whatnot. Perhaps this happens all the time, but it’s certainly the first slap in the face that my mother and I may never again meet on the same page.
So, what should/could I do about it? Or how do I feel about it?
Dunno–I guess the ball is in her court. I just don’t know if she’ll pick it up and try, or choose another game to play, hoping to change the rules as she goes along so I have to abide.
I may be an orphan of a sort and not even know it, but I don’t feel anything but disappointment, now. I’m not angry at God, because that would make as much sense as being angry at the purple giraffe in a Hawaiian shirt and eye patch who blocks the freeway exit to Yuckyweird. I’m angry and annoyed, but I’m not sure exactly what about. Maybe it’s knowing what she’s said in the past about people like the one I’ve grown up to become. None of it was flattering, and if I wasn’t her daughter, I’d probably be the scum of the earth in her eyes.
I may well be, anyway, now that the door’s been opened.
I’ve always known or at least had a good indication of who my mom was and what she believed. I heard no other viewpoint in her house, so that made it easy. Rigid and Bible-based, that was the benchmark.
And I’ve left it behind for myself and went looking for something more just, more inclusive, and better all around. Who knows where it will take me, but I’m willing to try it out.