Arnebya is a writer, speaker, wife, and mother. She’s also a member of the 2013 Listen To Your Mother DC cast and a two-time BlogHer Voice of the Year. You can find her at her blog What Now and Why, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
I haven’t spoken to my mother since April 28 of this year. There is no particular reason, no argument, no animosity. We simply don’t talk. She lives less than a half hour away. Our purposeless non-talking is not one-sided, though. I didn’t call her on Mother’s Day this year. And she didn’t call me.
I look at my friends who have close relationships with their mothers and it awes me. I want that. I don’t necessarily want it with my mother, but I want a loving mother/daughter relationship. Our relationship, instead, is strained. She visits on birthdays (sometimes) and a couple holidays. Outside of that, there’s virtually no communication (although she talks to both of my sisters frequently). Doesn’t she miss me? Doesn’t she want to see her grandchildren? Doesn’t she hate not getting to hear my son mess up words? Doesn’t she want to know what I’m making for dinner, that I still love her apple pancakes? Doesn’t she? (Well, OK, probably she doesn’t, because I haven’t told her. IT WAS RHETORICAL, GOD!)
I want to call and yell at her, “Why don’t you call me? Why don’t you talk to me?” But what if she says she doesn’t call because she doesn’t want to? I may be projecting, sure, but the only other explanation I can create on this one-sided, non-conversation with my mother (yes, in my head; shut up) is that perhaps she feels she isn’t needed. I did need her. Sadly, now, I don’t. That should feel liberating to say, but it doesn’t. It just makes me sad. And embarrassed that my sisters will read this and think how traitorous and bitchy and entitled and selfish and accusatory I sound).
Years ago, on Christmas, my mother never showed up to my sister’s house for dinner. She said she’d be there by 5:30. At 6 we figured maybe she was just running late. At 6:30 and for every 20-30 minutes after, we called. My middle sister and I decided to drive by her house (this was not unlike her, to not show up on a whim, but it was highly unlike her to not answer the phone and say “Can’t you bitches take a hint?”).
When we turned the corner we saw the ambulance lights. My sister had found her unresponsive in her living room. I will never forget that day, how I felt lightheaded as the paramedics loaded her into the ambulance. Mama. She was in a coma for four days. I could have lost her. I kept thinking how I would feel about that, being unable to call her, talk to her, see her. And then I remembered: prior to Christmas I hadn’t spoken to or seen her since Thanksgiving. And now I feel worse, because how dare I compare not speaking for a month to the inability to speak ever again because of death. What a slap in the face to those who have lost a parent. It’s not intentional; I’m sorry. But it’s still there. That’s my truth.
I am afraid I will lose her permanently and won’t have said things I think I should say. I feel I’ve lost her already, though, or, she’s lost me. But, y’all. The parts of my childhood I can remember are happy. She took me to ballet and tap and ice skating lessons. But then she also laughed openly in the audience at my sixth grade talent show as my slip fell down repeatedly when I was singing Borderline a cappella because she refused to buy the damn instrumental record. Breathe.
I still have the ability to call her and simply say hi, I’m calling to say hi. Maybe I’ll start there. But when do the selfish, immature thoughts of “I’m not calling first” go away?