• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

December 26, 2007

How I Learned to Stop Hating My Mother

Share
Special Offer

"Nobody said that life is fair." That was her favorite saying, a stinging maternal salve in response to a daughter's tears. I know there was a good lesson in there for me, but I wasn't ready to hear it. Instead, I thought, No shit. If life were fair, it would have smelled of home-baked cookies instead of stale booze; it would have felt like a warm hug instead of a cold shoulder.

"If you loved me, you'd stop drinking." That was my favorite comeback. Fair or not, mothers were supposed to live for their kids, I thought, and her nightly swan dive into a gallon jug of Gallo was a sloppy declaration of rejection. I took her drinking as wholly personal, and so I tried to make myself more lovable by overachieving in the classroom and on the soccer field; I tried to show her how much I was hurting by turning myself into an 88-pound skeleton. But none of that changed a thing. My mother still crawled naked up the stairs to her bedroom, still hid glasses of vodka in cupboards throughout the house, still chose booze over me.

And so I ran — up to Andover, down to Duke, across the country to San Francisco. But our reckless fights — my vicious takedowns and her slurred diatribes — carried on over the phone lines.

That's what I remember. Then my mother filled in the blanks.

One day, when my mom was growing up in a big, poor family in Alabama, her mother, Helen — an emotionally dead woman hitched to a violently alcoholic man — asked her if she wanted some ice cream. Helen had never asked my mother if she wanted anything, and so my mother, craving some ice cream, decided to test her. No, my mother said, I don't want any ice cream — hoping that Helen, for the first time, would simply know what her daughter wanted, what she needed. But Helen walked away, and my mother was crushed.


Share
This Is A Developing Story
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from Smashbox (ARV: $314) and a year’s supply of hair products from Herbal Essences (ARV: $104), as selected by the Sponsor.

One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from Smashbox (ARV: $314) and a year’s supply of hair products from Herbal Essences (ARV: $104), as selected by the Sponsor.

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From World News on Women
This Act Could Put an End to Anti-Abortion Legislation

Women's right to choose is constantly at stake—but this might the solution.

Yet Another Blow to Birth Control Coverage

The Supreme Court's latest decision will limit a key benefit for women.

California Audit Finds Universities Are Failing Students Who Are Sexually Assaulted

State auditor report says colleges must do more to prevent, respond to, and resolve incidents of rape and sexual assault on campus.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue