When I was 16 my mother, who had been, by her own accord absent from my life since I was 9 – decided to come back into my life. I immediately knew something was amuck. What her plan was I couldn’t be clear on except that I was certain the end result would leave me in pain…
I was right.
She became quite involved in my life for the next year. She visited with me at my home, something she had sworn she would never do because the city I live in was filled with the FBI and evil anglophones (schizophrenia, go figure), she met my partner at the time, invited me to her home in Montreal with my sister. She had me cut her hair! Which was both strange and nostalgic as I hadn’t been this close to her since my childhood and I was surprised she chanced me messing up her hair or that she trusted me with scissors. She was present enough in my life that when I became pregnant she was able to watch my belly grow and stretch for a short while – and although she didn’t come, she was in my life when I had a shot gun wedding (not my proudest moment).
It was a peculiar time in my life as I was completely overjoyed (in a little kid before their birthday party kind of way) that she was so committed to being my mom again and at the same time completely suspicious of her intentions.
Convinced this was not going to end well, I kept my back up. I stayed on guard. Never sure when ‘it’ would happen – when she would leave again. By the end of my pregnancy and after a year of reconnection that happened during my pregnancy, I had finally begun to trust that her intentions were sincere. Maybe she really did want to be my mom again. To be in my life. I was excited for her to meet her first grandchild, excited that she would be at the birth. Two weeks before Pups was due, 5 months before I was to turn 18, on March 8th, 1997 – International Women’s Day – (of course it had to be a day with some sort of feminist political significance) she packed all the leases from every place she’d ever lived into her backpack and threw herself in front of a subway train – or ‘metro’, if you are from Quebec.
That was 16 years ago. A day does not go by when I don’t think of how much she’s missed. Or how much I miss her. This year, on March 8th (which is never really a celebration of women around the globe for me but instead a reminder of the woman in my life that died that day – on purpose) I did as I always do. I wrote my sister an email, and I updated my status with “today I remember my mother”. But as the days grow closer to my eldest child’s 16th birthday, this anniversary of her death is more than just a memory of her but it is growing into a recognition of how important it is that a girl have a positive and influential woman figure in her life. Not just one from books, but one that you can touch. A real person to guide you, and argue with you, and love you no matter what. One that hugs you tight when times are tough with all the love she can muster, even if you say you hate her.
Even if you really do hate her.
When I was 16 my mother came back into my life and then promptly left it again. Leaving me feeling cheated and hurt, confused and angry.
In two days my child, the child that was in my belly at the time of my mother’s chosen demise, will be 16. In a way I can thank my mom for teaching me what not to be for my child. For teaching me the hard way how much a mother means to a child, even if she is never there. So I must make the most of all my time with my children. Not just because they are my kids, or they have anxiety, or autism or diabetes. But because I am their mother. This isn’t just a title, it’s a responsibility. More than that it is a gift. If these children end up fucked up – I’m pretty sure it’s all on me.
It really is too bad my mother decided to leave this world before her time, she was a really cool lady I’m told by her past friends. She was smart and sexy and neat. A peculiar sort of character that made you want to know her better. I think I would have quite liked her. I also think she would have really liked Pups.
I think she would have liked me too.