As I Drive With My Mother

It never fails … no matter how “old” I may be, the minute that I am in the company of my mother, I revert back to the child that I once was – the ornery child, always with something to say but biting my tongue in an effort to lay low and remain out of trouble.

Yesterday was no exception.

Driving beside my mother always causes me to take a defensive position.  For one, there’s really no where to hide.  I’m stuck and I have to listen to her talk to me as if I am once again a child.  Not only that, but I also have to take driving directions from her even though I own my own cars and have been driving since I was 15 1/2 years old.

I love the conversations that we have, mostly one sided, with her doing the majority of the talking, me just nodding and acknowledging her with the occasional short answer knowing that if I say anything it will be the wrong thing anyway.

Me:  Sniffling.

My Mom:  Why are you sick?

Me:   I’m NOT sick, Mom.

My Mom:  You are. What do you call it then?  Watch out for that car.

Me:  I’m NOT sick, Mom, and I see the car.

My Mom:  You should take antibiotics.  The light is red.

Me: I saw the red light, and I was already getting ready to stop. I don’t need antibiotics, Mom.

My Mom:  You do.

Me:   Mom, I know I don’t need them.  I’m a nurse.

My Mom:  I have some at home that you can take. It starts to sprinkle. Turn your wipers on.  The light is green, go.

Me:  I turn my wipers on and I have already started to go. Mom, you need to finish taking those when they give it to you.

My Mom:  Oh, I do, I just keep asking my doctor to refill it and I keep it until I need it.

Me:  I shake my head. Don’t do that, Mom.  You can’t just take antibiotics, they’re for specific illnesses.  One day you’ll really need them and they won’t work because you keep taking them.

My Mom:  What do you mean they won’t work?  Don’t you know that antibiotics kill infections, they will always work.  She sighs then changes the subject. You’re too skinny. I don’t think you’re eating enough and that’s one reason why you’re sick.

Me:  Mom, I’m not skinny, I am fit.  No, you’re too skinny.  Mom, I weigh xxx lbs.

My Mom:  What?  How can you be heavier than I am?  You are driving too fast.

Me:  I’m not driving fast enough. Mom, I’m muscular.

My Mom:  You need to eat.

Me:  Mom, I do eat.  I eat a lot.

My Mom:  I don’t think that you do.  I don’t think that you take care of yourself.

Me:  My eyebrows are raised at this point and I sigh deeply to myself.

My Mom:  You should stop exercising so much.  You’re already too skinny.

Me:  Mom, I’m not skinny.  I eat enough.  I am healthy because I eat good and because I workout.  I’m not sick.

My Mom:  I don’t think so, Rowena.  You’re already doing too much – working, taking care of your kids.  You don’t have time to workout.  Watch out for that car.  Brake!

Me:  There’s no reason for me to brake, I’m not going to hit anything. Mom …

At this point some update on Egypt or Libya comes on the radio …

My Mom:  Oh, my God.  Make sure you buy gas, pretty soon it will be over $4.00/gallon.  Be sure you stock up on food, too.

Me:  Mom, we’re not going to run out of gas or food.

My Mom:  How do you know?  Look at all the earthquake in New Zealand.  You never know what’s going to happen.

Me:  Mom, if we do, I’ll just ride my bicycle.

My Mom:  What about your kids?

Me:  Mom, they can ride their bikes too, and they’re not going to starve.

My Mom:  Don’t worry, I’ve been stock piling rice and other things.  You’re driving too close to that car.

Me:  I’m not driving too close to anyone. Mom, you shouldn’t buy so much food.  Just buy enough for yourself.  Food has an expiration date.

My Mom:  Pretty soon we will have another World War 3.

Me:  Mom, why are you worrying about that?

My Mom:  I have to worry about that.  You should worry about that also.

Me:  I’m not worried, Mom.

My Mom:  I should buy a new car. We are driving my Dad’s 2004 Mercedes that never gets driven.  She’s talking about her 1994 Nissan Maxima.

Me:  Mom, you don’t need a new car, just drive this one.

My Mom:  I can’t drive this one around.  Can you imagine if I drove this car to bingo?  Someone would think I had money and follow me out and rob me.  Joel (my brother) doesn’t think that I should drive it.

Me:  No one is going to rob you, Mom.  Just drive this one.  At this point I’m irritated that she doesn’t get that just because you own a Mercedes that you should just leave it in the garage.  Cars are meant to be driven!  It’s also pissing me off that my brother would believe that someone would harm our mother because of the kind of car she drives and tells her not to drive it. If you’re not going to drive it, Mom, then you should sell it and get a different car.

My Mom:  Now she’s irritated with ME! I can’t sell this car, it’s your Dad’s car!  Why would I sell it?  This is a luxury car, don’t you know that?  Your Dad loved this car, it was his dream to own it.  I can’t just drive it to bingo or to the grocery store.

Me:  I’m counting because I’m seething.  I can’t say what really I really want to say because that would be disrespectful, right?  I’m going to just keep my mouth shut!  Whatever.  She doesn’t get that “average” people own Mercedes nowadays, not just “rich” people.

At this point we are at our destination and I can’t wait to get out of the car.  It has only been a short drive, but it feels like the longest 20 minutes of my life.

Listen … The relationship that I have with my mom has not been an easy one and I get a lot of flack from others who don’t understand how difficult it has been for me because they have not walked in my shoes.  It has only been recently that my mother and I have reconnected.  I have come to accept that our relationship has not been perfect, nor will it ever be.  As an adult with children, I know now that she raised me as best as she knew how.  Much of what happened to me as a child is still difficult to swallow, but I believe that I have forgiven her for whatever shortcomings, faults, differences that I believe that she has had.  The best thing about being an adult, for me, is that I am free to keep to myself, stay in my own home, choose when to call her, and that I don’t have to see her or talk to her everyday.  I can say, “No” and not feel a lick of guilt.

I understand that commandment that says, “Thou shall honor thy father and mother.”  I get it, and I do for the most part.  I believe, though, that within that commandment, there is an understanding that parents should love and respect their children also.  I don’t believe that parents should be dictators as my mother was.  I believe that they should raise their children to be the best that they can be. asking their opinions, and actually talking to them instead of just telling them what to do.  I understand that parenting is by no means an easy job, but being a child and growing up is not easy either.  There’s so much to learn, and one learns best when their leader is open and guides.

I was always one who really, seriously wished that I had different parent  It’s not worth it to rehash my past, but I believe that the memories of my childhood are filled more with unhappy memories and I struggle to remember any happy ones.  It’s sad that I have such difficulty doing so.  I have asked my brothers what they recollect and what their memories and perceptions of things that have happened are, and their versions so very different from mine, so I keep my mouth shut and my memories to myself.  Funny how siblings can grow up in the same household with the same parents, etc., and our perceptions and memories differ vastly.

This much I know is true:  I am an adult that reverts back to that part of my childhood when in the presence of my mother, which means that I have a tendency to shut down and just let her do and say what she does and says to me.   I also know that it is because of my experiences, I am the person that I am today – this includes how I respond to my children and how I mother them.  I know that I am a much different mother to my children because of my mother.  The relationship that I have with my own children is FAR different that the relationship that I could ever hope to have with my own mother.

I know that no one escapes their childhood without a few scrapes and bruises.  No childhood is perfect.  We all have issues in some way, shape or form and that’s what makes us all unique. But life goes on, and eventually we must all learn to be our own person outside of our parents homes.  We need to understand that we are NOT our parents, we are our own selves.  We need to let go of whatever has happened, and move forward, knowing that we were exposed to certain things to help make us who we are today.  We also need to understand that our parents, for the most part, did the best that they could with what they knew.  The best revenge for that unhappy inner-child of ours is to acknowledge him/her, and let them know that they are now safe, and that life is good, and that you and the children that you have are all okay.  Then go get some ice cream for the both of you!

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