When my mother was nearly through the eighth month of her high-risk pregnancy with my sister Teresa, I set her off.
I was fourteen, nearing the end of eighth grade and angry about…something I can’t remember.
She, my Dad, Bob and I were all in the living room – arguing. My other two sisters were likely hiding – together – in one of their rooms. My face was burning with hot tears and all I remember feeling was pure, fierce, adolescent rage.
So, I let it out:
“Oh, don’t worry,” I said. “I’m going to work my butt off, because I know if I don’t I’m STUCK. And I can’t think of anything worse than being STUCK in this awful, miserable, small place, where there’s nothing. Just STUCK in absolutely nothing.”
That did it. My very pregnant (prescribed to be on bedrest) mother leaped off the sofa taking a back cushion with her and came after me.
“You think this is miserable?” she shirked. “You think this is awful?” She backhanded me with the pillow. “You” (pillow whack). “Don’t” (pillow whack). “Have” (you get it). “Any.” “Idea.” Whack, whack, whack, whack. Now she was crying much harder than I ever was.
Dad stepped in. Took the pillow. Reminded her to breathe and go lay down. I got myself off the carpet and walked outside to finish my tears in peace.
The night sky helped calm me down and eventually we all got to apologizing.
I was truly sorry for getting my mother that upset, but I wasn’t sorry at all for what I had said.
At that time that small town made me feel even smaller. Constantly judged and responsible for upholding the expectations of others. The only power I could find was in digging in, in order to crawl out.
Tonight, as my husband and son, and I were all getting ready to leave that very same house, in that very same town, after a truly lovely Sunday Supper, I found myself wanting to do nothing more than stay.
To enjoy more of my parents’ home cooking, and the smell of the wood stove, and a good book on their back deck with a thick blanket and an uninterrupted night sky.
I wanted to stay just to be with them. Around them. A part of them.
Maybe it’s the natural order of things to miss how much your parents care for you as you’re growing up. But, I’m surely not missing it now.