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According to the dictionary, a mother is a woman who has a child, as you would imagine. However, a secondary meaning is a woman who acts as the parent of a child to whom she has not given birth. We all have a mother, whether they fulfill the former, the latter, or both parts of the definition.
I have a mother. Once she filled both parts of the job requirement. Now, I can only see her in the biological sense- the first description. She spent several hours of excruciating labour for me. She fed me, she nursed me. Washed me, dressed me.
But that is where it stopped. When it stopped is not so easy to pinpoint. 3 weeks ago? 12 months ago? 10 years ago, even? A mother can stop being a mother. A child can not stop being a child. The needs are different but there’re still there. I don’t need nursing and I certainly don’t need washing by my mother.
She is my mother. She is not a mother. The washing, the feeding, the nursing she could do. Now, at 18, I can see that she can’t do the things I need her for. The visits are sporadic, and have become as rare as true friends. Every Tuesday it used to be. It’s been several Tuesdays- nothing. It’s been three weekends- nothing.
I can’t give in. A mother makes the effort. She is taxi and bank and teacher and employer and counselor. My mother is a taxi. That is the top and bottom of it. That is all she can do; even then she stumbles across an obstacle; an excuse.
“So and so needs the car today.” As they do everyday. Times have changed. Cars aren't vital to human travel. And one person is does not need a car each. Buses, trains. That’s the annoying part. It’s manageable. He’s a reasonable human being. He’d understand. But the desire is lagging. The effort is gone. If it’s manageable, then why is she being difficult? Why can’t she be manageable?
It was good, for the most part. She is taxi. She was taxi and friend. Similar interests, similar likes and similar tastes. Was it all an act? A lie? A passing phase? How authentic was it? If we were like that, why has it gone?
It’s not my fault. I will stand by that fact. She is my mother. That is also a fact. If a fact is a fact, then there should be some evidence. Not just the biological sort. There is. A wafer thin layer of nights in front of the television, walks in the park, lunches and dinners out, shopping expeditions. I paid; for my food, for my clothes. Heck, I’m surprised she didn’t ask for money to put towards petrol, or the TV license. A child should not have to pay when a parent is there. To offer is one thing, but for a parent to accept is a betrayal of the scripture that is the child care section in every book shop in every corner of the planet.
How can mother treat a child in such a manner? How can a mother treat her child in such a manner? It does not stop at the money. Poison can leak into the flow of sweet words from a mother’s mouth. Words of scorn and words of hate. Words I don’t want to her. That nobody wants to hear.
You've made me so angry; you've made me so sad. If I saw you now, I would weep with sorrow as I told you that this was the end and I’ll not see you for a goodly while. But how long is a goodly while? It’s been three weeks- have I made my point? There is no pleading, no begging, no promises. I would welcome even false promises. If she was a good mother, there would be a bleeding heart and on-you-knees grovelling. This power scares me because I've never had this power. I don’t know what to do with it. I can feel thundering in my heart every time I think of you. Like an evolving patter or rain drops: of tears. Then the searing thunder of angry comes raging through. What am I to do? I don’t want this to be the end but perhaps that’s the best thing. The best thing for her. The best thing for me.
People have said I don’t deserve this treatment because a mother does not treat her son the way in which she has. People have said she doesn't deserve me because of the way she’s treated me. I don’t know what to think anymore. Sometimes, I think and wonder “Am I being a bad son? Should I be making the effort in her stead?” What counts as a greater evil: being a bad child or being a bad parent?
If she was a good mother, she’d coming running. She’d come running in bare feet over hot coals. She’d stand outside, be it rain, flood, hurricane or sun. She’d call and call every night even if I didn’t pick up. She’d send letters, e-mails, and postcards. She’d commit the most grievous and illegal acts to see her child.
Not my mother. She sits. She sits and she seethes in the abyss of her own torment. Of confusion and of loss. Of misplaced hate and reckless love. A game is being played. The rules are not tangible and they shift and change. From day to day, week to week, even depending on the phase of the moon. I want to win. So does she. But what is the prize that we’re competing for? I thought all the game-playing was done. I was wrong.
I don’t want to be mean and don’t want to be cruel. I will not sink to her level. I need to powerful. I need to be in control. I don’t remember the last time I had control or power over my mother. A child should always have some sort of control. A child screams from their bed and mother comes running. That’s control. If a baby can control a mother with a mind of clay and no understanding of the world, then so should I. She has always been the one in control. She was the one with the dramatic shifts in mood. A demeanor as unpredictable as the weather. She was the one who journaled how terrible her family life was, how it had fallen apart like a tapestry with frayed edges. If you keep pulling at those, threads, the tapestry will unravel sure enough.
But I want the past to stay in the past. This is not about the past. This is about now. The money now means very little. Yes, £250 would be a nice surprise for my bank balance, but there is more to play for than money.
I know not that we’re playing for different prizes. She is playing for me, for the old ways and how things used to be where I was a door mat she’d walk across. When I didn't know I was a doormat. For me, the stakes are higher. I am playing for change. A change in the way she approaches me. A change in how things are conducted. I no longer want myself to fail at the last hurdle, to apologise for ignoring the texts and the phone calls. I want it to be a wake up call for her. No longer will I be treated the way she was treated me. I have the control now. And she needs to know that. I’ve changed myself, in a desperate hope that someday, somehow, she’ll change also. If she doesn't change, I will know that in my heart I will not have failed as a son. Everyone will know that she’s failed as a mother.
I had my mother. Now, I have a mother.