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Do you see the crack?
I’m the kind of person who’d rather eat glass while someone gives me papercuts in between my fingers than celebrate Mother’s Day. I’d probably prefer to have rusty nails shoved up my ass actually. So in my head, in anticipation of the day, I cancel it. I scoff at it. I cry at the anticipation of it. I don’t like to acknowledge it. I dread it. I hate it. I wonder if I can hide where no one can find me. I wonder if I can unsubscribe from all this drama (that I object upon myself).
I don’t like myself as a mother. Well, said differently, I don’t like how much it’s stirred up in me. I am awakened by all of my complexities. My memories are a mind game to have to sift through. I feel I'm not good enough. I feel sweaty from the spotlight overhead. I want to escape. I am tired of everyones notes regarding my performance. I am unbearably complicated. I want to go to bed.
In my head I go, Smile bitch. Today (Mothers Day) the spotlight is shining twice as hard. Give them the performance. Succumb and subdue.
On the outside, Mother’s Day is perfectly fine. A little harmful for sure, but for me, it’s manageable. I imagine as the years progress it will become more and more manageable. My eldest wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and brought home a gift that he made for me at school. That was probably the sweetest thing I’ve experienced so far! I got beautiful peonies and a funny hallmark card. Everything was great. But there’s a slight taint of gloom on this day. Like there’s a hairline fracture in the glass. It may not look cracked to a regular person. But to you, the crack is unbearably there. And the crack is becoming harder and harder to figure out.
It’s just, I adore my kids so much that I wonder what’s left? You know?
In my head I go, THIS IS TRUE LOVE. BELIEVE IN THIS CAUSE BABY, IT’S ALL YOU’VE GOT. BELIEVE YOU’RE THE SUBLIME SUPERNATURAL WHO OWNS THE SUN AND THE MOON AND THE STARS. BELIEVE YOU’VE GOT THIS IN THE BAG. TELL YOURSELF THIS IS THE DREAM. TELL YOURSELF YOU’VE WON THE LOTTERY OF WORKING YOUR ASS OFF RAISING INFANTS INTO HALF DECENT HUMAN BEINGS. TELL YOURSELF YOU’VE GIVEN BIRTH TO YOUR SOULMATES. THEY HAVE A PIECE OF YOUR HEART IN EACH OF THEIR HANDS AND THEY ARE CRUSHING IT CONSTANTLY. THESE LITTLE FUCKERS!! ISN’T LOVE SUPPOSED TO BE KIND? I’M NOT SO SURE ANYMORE. SMILE AT THIS GOODNESS OF KNOWING WHAT LOVE IS. JUST KEEP SMILING OK? EVEN THOUGH IT HURTS TO FEEL YOUR HEART BREAKING. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T STOP SMILING. NO MATTER WHAT.
I know, it’s complicated. It’s hard to understand the way your heart can break every single day. Raising kids is an act of service and to celebrate my service job as a mother on Mother’s Day feels a little patronizing. My mom never told me how to handle a day like Mother’s Day. But now I get why.
Be right here with me. Sit down. Come empty handed. Just hold my hand. Let me feel your warmth. Read me my favorite poems. It’s the only way I can fall asleep. I hear you humming in the kitchen. I hear the thumps of the avocado seeds against the cutting board. I hear the sink running endlessly. Thawing chicken or beef? I smell the steam from the rice cooker. Bring me your orange tea. Take my temperature. You’re getting so old. Your mouth is curving, getting longer. When you smile you look like the grinch. There are so many lines on your face. Your face is like a roadmap of what my life will eventually look like. You told me things would always be good. Todo estará bien. I didn’t believe you. I ran off and got lost. Enclosed in 25 acres. How far could I go? Gunshots into the sky brought us back together. Your eyes changed. Your shoe was in your hand. Your disappointment was palpable in that pitch black night. I forgive you. I’m trying really hard to forgive you. When you’re done with me I'll still forgive you. You live in my every movement. I wouldn’t change a thing. Are these hands mine? Or my mothers? I want to be beautiful and androgynous but my mother’s hands weigh me down.
“Tell me what you like to listen to? What’s your favorite movie? Which sports team do you like? How am I supposed to get to know you?”
In my head I go, Recede. Don’t think so much. Nothing good happens when there’s this much thinking. Just give him an answer he’s comfortable with.
The person asking me these questions has annoyingly calm energy. He’s the type that could watch Marvel movies all day while listening to Taken Back Sunday during his lunch break. He likely makes his own turkey sandwiches with ciabatta bread from Trader Joe’s. He’s the type to tell you “I get it” and shrug after a vent session. He’s like the intro to emo, the onset of what angst could look like. But he can never grasp anger the way I can. I think a person can truly channel anger when there’s complete divergence from oneself. He’s got some time till he gets there. Could a man feel the same anger a woman feels?
I am doing some personal training to help my hip and to overall strengthen my body. My personal trainer is young and positive. He makes everything look easy. He tells me he keeps “his” Saturday to himself. He has firm boundaries. He moved to Westchester to find quiet. There isn’t an ounce of his depletion on his person. He goes to concerts and sleeps in until 9am. He’s a man. He’s a little oblivious and totally harmless.
So how do I combat these questions when I no longer have any of these answers? This man is trying to give my life some shape. He doesn’t understand that as a mom everything was deleted years ago. Delete Delete Delete. Backspace and refresh. Press Enter. A blank space. Rebuild. Brand new. Start from the bottom and still here. Who takes care of us now? Where’s that hand I long to hold? Where’s that fucking orange tea?
“I can listen to anything when I workout, thanks for asking!”
He and I both were surprised at how well I did. I squatted 60lbs and did reverse pull ups. I did some hollow holes and box jumps and walked with a 45lb kettlebell. My core is not as weak as I thought. My core used to house my children and now it houses my anger. So it became clear that I put my anger somewhere. Now it makes sense. Anger is like everything else, you just have to put it somewhere. You just have to step out of your self-inflicted box. True love is real, and true love doesn’t always feel good. I pushed my body to its limit and for a short time I can see things a little clearer. I think that’s what mothers have to do. Keep pushing until it all makes sense. Keep pushing even though it’s lonely to have to get to know yourself all over again. Keep pushing through the gloom. Keep pushing and remember how you’re the sublime supernatural. KEEP PUSHING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, OK?
What I mean to say is mothers are difficult things. They do their best or sometimes they don't try at all. Some are alive and some are dead. We live with the weight of our mothers while trying not to pass the weight onto our kids, yet involuntarily doing so anyway. Our mothers can never rub off. Our mothers live in our cells, our mothers live right dab smack on our faces. I can’t uncover what’s behind the mirror even though I’m trying. I think it’s my mother. I think she’s everywhere.