“You’re not going to BUH_LEAVE what Ma did.”
I have 10 more years than him when it comes to bearing witness to, being victim of and pondering the unbelievable things Ma does, but he may be right.
“SHIT.” Here I am, alleged wordsmith, proven behaviorist and teacher, with a single syllable. I look for the appropriate cues signaling the truth of his feelings. He seems pissed and I momentarily wonder if he learned this default way of approaching the uglies from me. Have I helped or further hindered my younger siblings with my ways of dealing? I’ll revisit my parenting skills later. Right now, it’s about our actual parent.
“She took me to the big wholesale store to stock up for college, which was kind and great of her, ya know? ‘Cause she’s laid off and poor.”
“Uh-huh”. Here I go again, the monosyllabic cavewoman of the family.
No one knows what really happened to cause Ma’s injury at work. She isn’t the same, that is for sure. But as time goes on, the entire scenario has become a separate organism. It grows and changes and becomes its own unique entity.
“So on our way back to her house, she tells me she has to stop by that doughnut shop on E. Main to drop off some make-up products for her friend.”
I already know where this is going.
“Now, I thought on all the weird and questionable things Ma has said, done or said she was doing but I could see how this may actually be real, ya know, her taking some stuff to a friend. Since the work thing, Ma has been cleaning around and clearing out stuff at the house. Anyway, so I think nothing of it, even when we pull up next to this tricked out SUV with rims, the works. The driver, some girl, is clearly someone Ma would never know or associate with, unless it’s her dealer.”
My heart sinks.
“Best part, Ma grabs her OWN lipstick, her own used, old, personal make-up product. I can’t do anything but stare the other way as she gets out of the car and buys drugs right in front of me.”
Sometimes, I want to punch this lady in the throat.
I debated saying something trite like “At least it’s just marijuana”. But this has nothing to do with her drug of choice and everything to do with who the hell is this person and how does she justify this?
I keep all the thoughts to myself: is it worse that my brother is old enough to reason and sift through this? What if the police came? If he was underage there may would be some investigation? As an adult, would he be a co-conspirator? Who would they call to bail them out? Would Dad ever allow her near any of us again? Why am I thinking of all this when she clearly never even considered thinking about maybe contemplating these things?
I’ve been saying it for years: The Lady is Crazy. But it’s the most awful kind of crazy. She is personable and loving at times. She can be really funny and thoughtful. She will make dinner and do your laundry. She will be a totally normal Mother doing totally great Mother things for you. But, you never know which version of her you’re going to get: Angry and guilt-tripping, self-absorbed and juvenile, high, hyperactive super ma, or depressed and needy.
She placed herself at the center of her world a long, long, long time ago. She is completely incapable of introspective activities, of apologizing, of growing. Her own father has apologized to us, on behalf of whatever it is that causes her to be whatever she is.
Something musta made her this way, but I assure my grandfather it was not any thing he did or did not do. It’s an odd and fluid and sometimes intangible kind of crazy.
Sometimes it appears to be maybe just a quirky personality, other times it is best described as Borderline Personality Disorder.
But whatever it is, it’s awful. It’s painful and sad and problematic and unfortunate. The consequences and results of our crazy mother’s parenting style and personal choices are far-reaching and, I fear, some still remain hidden.
There may be room for sympathy or at the least some empathy, if she had a diagnosed illness. If she were in treatment instead of total denial. If it was the kind of crazy that had her laid up in bed, depressed and dependent. If medicine and routine and support would minimize the aptly described hurricane-like storm that is our Ma.
As the eldest, I have certain obligations which, I hope and trust, have made a positive impact on my siblings. We’re all fine, well-adjusted, successful people, but still. No one ever withheld food from or beat us. We never really questioned or doubted our security, material or otherwise. It’s far more subtle.
There isn’t much I can say to my youngest brother, but I listen and empathize. I remind him how much worse it all could have been, be. How truly tragically some families live. I tell him true stories from her apex of craziness, from my own friends who are crazy mothers and we manage to remember to feel grateful, even laugh. He reminds me how well I did by him, and how I could just as easily be categorized into some genre of crazy as well.