Readers, I am about to do the unthinkable and blog angry. Today, I went on that most dreaded of weekly excursions – the grocery shopping trip with my mother. The reason I dread it is that, despite the sheer athleticism with which I dart about from shop to shop, ensuring she has everything she needs, I will invariably say or do something to incur her wrath. Today was no exception. A couple of friends of mine offered to give us a lift there and I accepted, rather than hire a cab to and from as we usually do, making three stops up and back. My mother was fine with this. Enraptured, in fact. Then, at seven thirty this morning, I got a phone call from her, asking what time we were coming for her. When I told her ten, she became rather terse (as she tends to do when things don’t go EXACTLY her way), stating that friends she meets for coffee might not be there by then. I explained that this was highly unlikely, seeing as they don’t usually arrive until ten thirty, and she only lives five minutes from the shopping centre. Unsatisfied and unplacated, she abruptly terminated the call. Soon after our arrival there, went to work on my son, dredging up a transgression he inadvertently committed three weeks ago. To the uninitiated, this probably doesn’t sound like cause for stress, much less fodder for a blog about the joys and horrors of dating over thirty, but if you’ll bear with me I will endeavour to explain.
Being the only child of a divorcee, and a none-too-well one at that, I have been the centre of my mother’s universe my entire life. Sounds like a great gig, huh? Lavished with attention, up to my armpits in presents every birthday and Christmas. Well, all that is true, but I’ve found that life is a series of transactions – what you receive today has to be paid for tomorrow. Those presents I got as a kid were wonderful, but memories of the countless hours I spent making god-awful concoctions with my Barbie Perfume Factory tend to lose their lustre when my mother laments the fact that she spent $29.95 on it every time I happen to disagree with her on something. These occasions are also used as currency when she says or does something spiteful and hurtful, like, for example, the time she called me an idiot in front of her friends, (‘Well, you got me the wrong deodorant. I gave you a great life when you were a kid, didn’t I?), and the time she called me a whore when I happened to mention a past relationship I have blogged about numerous times, (You’re just a whore, like your father. You can’t help it. I shouldn’t have bought you everything, maybe then you wouldn’t be so selfish).
These are actual examples of her logic, I kid you not.
As for all that attention, you try enjoying eight hours a day of it. Yes, you read right. Eight hours is the figure I’ve arrived upon by adding up the number and duration of phone calls I get from her every day, (I was in remedial maths for four of my five years of high school, so that is an estimation, but it’s a pretty damned close one). I received one such call on Tuesday afternoon, during which she accused me of putting my son (yes, my son) before her by not visiting her as much during the school holidays, (I’m there three mornings a week usually). She then mused that she could lay dead in her unit for days and no one would know, just because I had to give ‘that kid’ a good time, (the same kid she called the c-word this afternoon).
As my regular readers will know, I have been putting off finding love for several reasons.
The woman I described in the last three paragraphs is one of those reasons.
Up until today, I have placated, cajoled, and cow-towed to her. I have put all other persons (including myself) after her because, as circumstance would have it, I am the only person she has in this world to count on. In other words, I have allowed guilt and manipulation to run me like a mass media corporation, and let my own happiness suffer as a result. Well, dear readers, Mad Mel TV will from this day forward be operating more like ABC1 than Fox. Today, I let my mother know in no uncertain terms that things needed to change if she wanted me in her life. She declined, (I’ll spare you the rant by which she communicated this), bemoaning the fact that I don’t care about her and would prefer she die. This would usually be the part where I would crumble, gather my handbag and my kid and rush over to her house to apologise.
Today, I simply said ‘That’s not true, Mum. I love you, and I’ll be here if you need me, but not until you change,’ and hung up.
I know it sounds mean, and I’m sure some of you think I’m a terrible person, but this confrontation has been a long time coming. I would NEVER be able to love myself, and consequently allow someone else to love me, if I hadn’t had it now. Sure, I feel like the worlds biggest shit-heal at the moment, and will undoubtedly have trouble sleeping tonight, but I think that at the age of forty, I’m entitled to put my foot down, don’t you?