This weekend was in many ways supposed to be a mom weekend. Right now a whole weekend of my mother can be rather trying. I spent days trying to get myself ready for it all emotionally. I failed.
Yesterday was not originally supposed to be about my mom. I had hoped to go to Sacramento. But my mom has always been jealous of my stepmother. She would never understand how I could cancel out on doing something that I had previously promised that I would do for her so that I could go see my stepmother. And more importantly, to see my dad. Because in the past when I have had to cancel out on my mom, I get to hear her say in a petulant voice, "But you promised..."
I had planned on taking care of all of my mom's crap last weekend. Thing is that I wasn't feeling well last weekend. I tried to explain this to my mother when I showed up. Her response was, "Have you felt this way for days? Well, you showed up to work and you didn't complain to them so I don't want to hear it." She then offered to take me to Thrive! but I told her that I wasn't sick enough for a doctor's; I just needed bed rest. She basically told me to suck it up. The second time we got into this conversation, I walked and went back home to bed. But I felt bad about not taking care of her whole list so I went back yesterday.
Yesterday was also combined as a movie outing. We went to see The Secret Life of Bees. I read the book years ago and had forgotten just how many sad moments there were in the story. I probably spent at least half the movie in some sort of tears. But at least I didn't walk away from it saying to myself, "This is such a letdown from the book." I think overall it stayed pretty true to the book. My mom was slightly peeved with me for not warning her how sad the story is. My response was, "But I brought you extra napkins from the snack bar."
This morning I got up at what is ass crack of dawn for me on a Sunday -- 9 AM. Why? Because Zombie Mom was running the Nike half-marathon in San Francisco. There was no way possible that I could be up early enough to cheer her on at the various points along the race but I knew that I could meet her and the rest of the Zombie family for brunch after the race. Also meeting her at the finish line would have meant that I would have to drive. Today my car could not move. More about that later.
The photo above is of my brunch selection over at Stacks in Hayes Valley. Not only did I get up at ass crack of dawn, but I did some walking as well. I was about to include the walk to the Berkeley BART station but that's only four blocks away -- in case you potential stalkers are interested. Fastest way to Hayes Valley on PT? Get off BART at Civic Center and hoof it the rest of the way. I did this without the aid of caffeine.
Seeing Zombie Mom flashing her Tiffany's bling? Hello? You get a pendant from Tiffany's for completing? Almost enough to get my lazy ass up and running. Key word here is "almost." Because while I love that little blue box, there are limits.
But most importantly, I got to see my favorite parts of the Zombie family -- the Commander and Lala. (Sorry about that Zombie Mom.) Because I have come to realize that through all of the crap over the last few months, those two are a large part of what has kept me tethered in the here and now. I love them because I realize that if I had kids, they would be like them. I also don't have kids because I realize that they would be just like them.
Then it was time to head back to Berkeley. I met this wonderful gay couple from Austin at the BART station in San Francisco. We helped this woman navigate her way through the system. Once we were finally on a Richmond train, I told them that I had been fascinated by Austin for years. A friend from undergrad -- OK. So he was a major crush -- had ended up there. He told me at the time that Austin was like Berkeley in the middle of Texas. The couple told me that in Austin, they always like to compare themselves to San Francisco but that Berkeley was probably the more apt comparison. They also bemoaned the gentrification of Austin. It's driving all the quirkiness out of the city. And that offbeat kind of vibe? That's what makes cities like Berkeley and Austin what they are.
So I stepped off the train to start part two of the mom weekend. Because today was The Spice of Life Festival. I have never missed this festival since moving to Berkeley. The first year, I attended it alone. Every year since then, my mother has been in attendance. Not that I necessarily wanted her to be.
My mother's worst traits come out at street fairs. "They want how much for this item? The food is crap. The music is crap." But I have heard this every year so in some ways I was prepared.
I met my mother at the BART station and we began our trek. I kept waiting for her to tell me how much she hates my hair worn in this way but then I remembered she had already told me that last weekend. It's all about tearing me down. Don't say that to her though. She will tell you how she had been nothing but supportive of me. And in some ways, she has been.
So we started our way through the fair. The food was overpriced. The Obama t-shirt, at $20, was overpriced. This after she complained about the long walk from the downtown Berkeley BART station to the fair. (Number one. I live north of the BART station but I met her there. Number two. The walk from the start of the fair was no more than seven blocks. My mother is just a suburbanite who just needs to suck it up.)
We finally found food that was a value in my mom's eyes. She then started to mention that it would be nice to sit down. I found her a table and then said that I was off to search for food for myself. Specifically potato puffs from Gregoire. After checking the last few stands that I had not previously, I headed to Gregoire. Right after I placed my order, I realized that perhaps there was a slight fiasco. But my mother was more than a block away enjoying her food so I stayed. And I waited. Once I had potato puffs in hand, I headed to a stand for the lemonade my mother had requested.
Upon returning to the table, my mother was nowhere to be seen. She is also too cheap to carry a cellphone. (Actually she's too cheap for a lot of things but is really big on telling you about how poor she is.) So I sat down at the table to wait for her return. In between, I called Zombie Mom. I just knew that my mother would be pissed off with me when she returned. I was right.
After I had been at the table for about 15 minutes, my mother showed up. And then screamed out, "Where have you been?" I said, "Getting food -- and your drink." She didn't like the tone of my answer and so said, "I don't need to put up with your sass." In my mind, I thought, "Kiss mine, bitch." Instead I answered with telling her about waiting for her at the table at which I had last seen her. And apparently all my responses were disrespectful, so I said, "I am sorry for not catering to you every second of the day today." (Ummm. I told y'all that I can get real bitchy at times.) And then she said some crap back and I said, "Next time I'll be sure to check in with you beforehand so that you can plan each second of the day." That was me being nice. I had wanted to add, "This is why no one else wants to do anything with you." Which would have been true but really hurtful.
My mother's response was to walk off but not before asking for the phone. I shit you not. Once I got my iPhone, my mother has been bugging me about what I was going to do with my old phone. She kept telling me how I should give it to her. And this is one of the other things that pisses me off as far as my mother is concerned. I get something -- either through my work or my father -- and she feels like she has earned a piece of it all. It is my obligation to share with her -- and no one else. I briefly thought about telling her, "Hell no," as far as the phone is concerned but then I decided that I am the bigger person and gave it to her. (There is still a part of me that thinks that I have "sucker" written on my forehead.) A minute later after storming off, my mother returned to ask if I still would buy the Bed, Bath & Beyond gift cards off of her. I pulled out the cash and took the cards. I then told her that the stuff she wanted me to come to Pacifica tomorrow for? Leave that stuff at her house. I don't need to see my mom anymore this trip.
After my mom left the fair, I was in such a foul mood that I didn't want to be there. I was blocks from home so I went there. And along the walk, I fought back the tears. Because when I'm really mad, I cry. Once home, I started making phone calls. But no one was available. Except for that one person. And so in desperation, I called my dad. Because there was no one else.
And so my dad and I talked about how bad things are with my stepmother. And how he's just dealing. And then we talked about my mother. How she is so obviously lonely. And how that's all about her and not us.
My dad started talking the steps. How we should not care about those things over which we have no power. Instead we should concentrate our energy on those things we can change. And also realizing that we cannot change others.
And this is why I love my father. Even when I know that he is dealing with pain beyond his imagining, he can still find it in himself to point me in the right direction.
Even though my father's words did a great deal, I am still trying to pick myself up form the place in which I was left after my interactions with my mother. Because since walking away from her, I have found myself crying. Thank goodness she's going back to Mexico on Tuesday.
But now she's crawling back in. Just as I was ready to post this, I listened to a voicemail that my mom left. A family friend has had a heart attack and is in the hospital. When will it all end? Because just when I think that I have nothing left it me, something else happens.