Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day

It being Independence Day yesterday, I thought I would declare my independence. In much the same way our founding fathers declared their independence before they were technically independent. I guess I think of it as a mini-resolution. What do I want to be independent of, and am not.

So today, I declare my independence from my mother.

This is not going to be an easy post, so forgive me if I'm hard to follow. Or if I don't exactly... make sense. But here goes.

I can sum up my mother's feelings for me in one anecdote: She didn't call me on 9/11. The daughter who lives in New York City. Who works in the financial industry. (Hell, I had an interview for a job in WTC2. My daily commute involved transferring trains at the W.orl.d T.rad.e C.ente.r station).

Everyone on the planet called me on 9/11. My landlord, the woman I had in to clean once a week, an assortment of friends and ex-boyfriends. Are you okay? Are you alive?

But not my mother.

My father called me 15 seconds after the first plane hit. I answered the phone "I'm okay" and he screamed "I know you're okay! Where's your BROTHER?" He apologized much later when he realized what it sounded like.

But my mother... just doesn't like me.

I'm sure, on some level, she loves me. For whatever "love" means to her. But she doesn't like me.

I'm forty, conceived in '66, born in '67. Before abortion was safe and legal. When my mother found she was pregnant, she wanted to get an abortion. She wasn't married, she knew a safe practioner; her college roommate had already seen him with no ill effect. (And not completely, although reasonably sure that my dad was my dad). But, as the story goes, my father wouldn't let her. Was willing to marry her.

And so I exist.

I know this because my mother told me. The first time, I was eight. I can describe ever detail of the scene to you. The car we were in, the intersection we were at, the smoke curling off of her cigarette. She was pregnant with my brother, and because of that, I'd learned that babies take 9 months to grow. And done the math days earlier, and realized that I was born six months after my parents wedding. And, because I was eight, assumed my math was wrong somehow, and that my parents had married the year before.

My mother set me straight.

I wish I could tell you that that was the only time the story came up, but no. My birthday is within a week of the Roe v. Wade decision. So every year, when news would cover it, or our local priest would homilize against it, my mother would tell me the story that, if it had been up to her, I wouldn't exist.

My mother's general attitude was... that I owed her. If she didn't like her life... well, I was the one responsible for her current situation. For the marriage she grew increasingly discontent with, for the job she didn't find fulfilling, for a life that disappointed her, for the extramarital affairs and divorce that still didn't fix it. It would have been SO MUCH BETTER if she hadn't had kids early, she'd say, everything would be different. Better.

And I declare my independence. From her disappointment, from her anger, from the nagging voice in my head that wonders if I'm truly worth it. (oh, that one's going to take a while).

But -- most importantly -- I declare independence from her pattern.

I am not going to blame any child of mine for my choices and my body and my life and their consequences. And, furthermore, I'm not going to blame any non-child. If I never end up having kids, I'm not going to blame the lack of them for things under my control. My happiness is dependent on me and my choices. Me. Mine.

Happy Independence Day.


Bea said...

Hear hear. Glad of your independence.

And... whoa. I read this out to Mr Bea and he said, "Whoa," too. I called people who lived in the financial district of *London* that day, because I didn't know anyone in New York, and that was the next closest thing. I'm so sorry your relationship isn't better. I'm glad you're going to set your sights on breaking the cycle. I think it's a great way to celebrate independence day.


Anns said...

Declare away honey.. shout it loud and proud. Honestly though, it sounds like your mom would have been a miserable person regardless, she was just "lucky" to have you to blame everything on.