This is my post Mother’s Day post. I find myself continuing old arguments with my mother. Arguments that I can not win. I hear her yelling “What is wrong with you? Why can’t you be normal? What did I do to deserve this?”
My mother and I argued from nursery school through graduate school. I couldn’t take it. I gradually reduced the number of visits until I only saw her at funerals, weddings, and Bar/Bat MItzvahs. We could not be seated at the same table. In the end we had nothing to say to each other. We argued silently.
My mother was always angry with me. She wanted a daughter. She wanted me to wear pretty dresses. She wanted me to be coy and precocious. She wanted me to prove that she was a good mother. Instead, I was an embarrassment. I was boyish, chubby, awkward, and shy. I was willfully disobedient. I threw tantrums. I was visible proof of her failure.
She was an unhappy person. She was critical of everyone except for her mother and my brother. She felt slighted in every interaction with the outside world. She blamed it on me. I made her look bad.
She could not accept I was at the boy’s end of the girl’s bell curve. She tried to force me towards the middle. I did not budge. She would argue “How can you go out looking like that? Who will be friends with you? Who will want to marry you? What college will accept you? Who will hire you? What is wrong with you?” I could not defend myself against her. Answering gave her more fuel; silence allowed her to continue because she was right all along. Heinz Kohut called this narcissistic rage. It was my mother’s modus operandi.
There are parents who do not silence their children or force them to hide their true selves. They love and accept their feminine sons, their masculine daughters, their transgender children. They take a lot of flak for practicing unconditional love. I follow two blogs written by the mothers of transgender children; George Jesse Love and Trans*forming Family. They give me hope.
When it was clear she was dying, my mother told my brother to let me know, in case I wanted to see her. I told him to tell her that if she asked to see me I would go. She did not ask. I did not go.
Donna and I went to the funeral. My mother was interred in the last crypt of her father’s family’s mausoleum. She was placed directly under her mother. She would have been upset with the rabbi (too young), with the service (too short), and with me for wearing black Levi’s (inappropriate).
When I die I want my ashes to be mixed with the ashes of my dogs. I want our ashes scattered at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It will be my last act of willful disobedience.