It seems like a great idea during the planning process. It’s been a few months since you’ve seen her. You’ll get some R&R, sleep in, maybe even get breakfast in bed. It will be a break from the chemicals you’ve been ingesting, otherwise known as Lean Cuisines and boxed wine. The two of you will get your nails and hair done (on her credit card of course), and maybe if you give her the perfect combination of pills and Pinot, she’ll even take you shopping. That would just be the best.
You’ll stay up late together drinking wine; you’ll exchange lighthearted stories and have one or two drunken heart to hearts. Pinterest may become involved, and you’ll share with her your secret wedding board. The two of you will embrace, laugh, cry, and exchange enough “I love you’s” to get a pre-mortem Whitney Houston annoyed. You’ll wonder why you ever fought when you were in high school. She’s the greatest. You want to be just like her when you get older. Your children should be so lucky to be raised by someone so similar.
The trip will end with a tearful goodbye. She’ll peck you on the cheek and slip an envelope containing heartfelt note and a generous check into your purse. You’ll vow to call one anther at least once a day; you make plans for another trip in the near future. Truth be told, you wish you never had to leave…
This, my dears, is your deluded, clouded, mind-numbingly stupid expectation of a weekend with your mother. I know, because this is exactly how I had envisioned my most recent weekend spent with mine. In all reality, it went
a little something exactly like this:
I pulled up to my driveway on the Thursday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend. I had taken two days off from work, meaning that I would be spending a very generous five days at home. For whatever reason, this seemed completely doable at the time. After six hours in the car, my previously curled hair was up in a ponytail and my make-up was kept to the bare minimum. I was wearing Norts, Rainbows, and an oversized “Connie Mack for Senate” t-shirt. I got out of the car, grabbed my bags and headed for the door.
“You look like you’re eighteen. Plus a few pounds, of course. You’re not in college anymore, you know. Why are you wearing that?”
And so it began. The next few minutes were a blur of hugs and kisses from my dad and little brother and my mother’s abbreviated, not so much religious, attempt at the Spanish Inquisition. I would say it was passive aggressive, but there really was nothing passive about it.
“Have you gained weight? What size are you now? Remember when you were a two in high school? Seems like forever ago that you were that skinny. Have you been tanning? I think I see sunspots. What have I told you about tanning beds? I saw on 20/20 once that a girl contracted Syphilis from a dirty bed. You’re going to look like a raisin. Why did you stop highlighting your hair? You look like one of those goths that walk around at the mall. I’ve been telling you since you were fifteen, you need to go blonde. Are you eating well? Dr. Oz says cleanses are good for you. You should do a cleanse. Beyoncé did one and lost like fifty pounds; I read it in People. We’ll Google it after dinner, don’t worry.”
The words were coming out of her collagen-filled lips so fast, it was like she’d just done five lines of coke off of a fucking cutting board. I took a deep breath, grabbed a Xanax out of my purse, and poured myself a glass of wine. I had two choices, I could ignore the crazy that was standing right in front of me and go watch TV with my dad and brother in the Men’s Room, (yes, there is actually a room in my house called the Men’s Room. It has leather furniture, a Moose head on the wall, a bar, and the walk-in closet houses a gun safe the size of a small car. It is the one room my mother will not venture into, and the only room my father will) or I could appease her and pray that this was the worst of it.
With the hope that she would leave me the fuck alone if I acknowledged her attempt at an interrogation, I decided to address her pill-fueled stream of consciousness rant line by line.
“No, I have not gained weight recently. Yes, I do remember when I was a size two. I also remember when I was working out twice a day and considered 1,000 calories in the span of twenty-four hours to be excessive. No, I haven’t been going to a tanning salon; I live by the beach, you know this. No, you did not see on 20/20 that a girl contracted Syphilis from a tanning bed. That is both asinine and impossible. I stopped highlighting my hair because you stopped paying for it. My hair is brown, not black. Go back thirty years and thousands of dollars on dye, and your hair would also be brown, not blonde. I’m eating just fine…for the most part. I don’t watch Dr. Oz. He looks like a gremlin, and I don’t trust anyone who is willing to inflate Oprah’s ego even further. Girlfriend needs to be taken down a few notches. Thus, I will be not following his advice and I will not be doing a cleanse. Beyoncé did not lose fifty pounds — that is an Olsen twin. At best, she lost fifteen. Don’t believe everything you read in gossip magazines. We are not Googling anything together. I have no interest in seeing your web history.”
She pursed her lips, visibly displeased with my answers. I stood, gripping my wine tightly, waiting for her next move. Her eyes twitched rapidly, a clear sign that she was on a new cocktail of pills. She stood silently for a moment and then her eyes zeroed in on the glass stemware in my hand.
“Do you think you have a problem? You know, with drinking?”
I poured myself another glass of wine and walked out of the room.
For as batshit insane as my mother is, perhaps the craziest thing about her is that she doesn’t drink. By “doesn’t drink,” I don’t mean that she isn’t a heavy drinker, or that she doesn’t like liquor, I mean that she straight up, no shit, refuses to fucking touch alcohol. It’s a character flaw for sure, only made worse by the fact that she is not silent about her hatred for it. Girlfriend doesn’t sit back, order a tonic and lime, and enjoy the party. Oh, no. She makes sure that everyone within a twenty foot radius of her knows that she not only despises drinking, but that she’s judging you for doing so. It’s an interesting soapbox to stand on, especially when one has a medicine cabinet that could keep a small pharmacy afloat for a solid three months. But whatever, she’s the judgmental one, not me.
The rest of the weekend went by at an exceptionally slow speed. I spent my days at the pool with her. She’d spit out comments about how maybe it was time I invested in a one-piece and I’d go to the clubhouse and request that vodka be added to my sweet tea. It was a fun little dance we did.
I spent my evenings in the Men’s Room with my dad, who was just blissfully happy to have someone to drink with. One night, she made her quarterly appearance in the room to find my dad, my high school aged brother, and me doing shots of tequila chased with a Willett on the rocks. I think that taught her not to show up uninvited.
By the time Monday came around and it was time for me to leave, I had blacked out on six separate occasions, cried twice, and been threatened with rehab only once. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty successful trip.
The fact of the matter is, my mother is an insane person. Maybe not certifiably so, like, I don’t think she needs mattresses on her walls, but it does concern me that she owns a gun. She’s on a cocktail of pills that I think would’ve made Anna Nicole Smith slur her blowjobs. Girlfriend lost her mind a long time ago, and she really doesn’t seem too concerned about ever getting it back.
And so this, fellow daughters, is what I’ve learned: embrace the crazy. You know that saying “If you can’t beat them, join them?” Fucking do it. Find yourself a pharmacist as questionably licensed as your mother’s and get yourself some happy pills. Had I not had Xanax two weeks ago, I’d be in jail and Snapped would currently be featuring my story on Lifetime.
Your mother will always be your biggest critic. She made you; she thinks you should be perfect. But you know what? After nine glasses of wine, (even if you have to chug them in the kitchen to make it look like you’re only on your second, like I do) you care less about her calling you fat and more about what you’re going to drunk eat when she goes to bed.
A weekend at home is like a weekend at war. Just remember to pack your pills and your pinot; no soldier should go into combat unarmed.