So… I am writing this during the last day of my mom’s visit (Easter Monday), during practically my only time alone I’ve had this long weekend. Seriously – aside from the shower, and sleep – it has been literally every waking moment with my mother this past 4 days and it is exhausting. Well, there was the 5 minutes after a minor fight yesterday when she said she was going for a walk – which couldn’t have been what she did because well, it was only 5 minutes. Right now she is actually on a walk, so I might get half an hour. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow night after work when I can finally relax in my own home.
I am still after all these years, trying to find a successful strategy to make her visits as painless as possible. This time, for the first time in years, my place was cleaned to her satisfaction – which is remarkable because I once hired a maid to come in before she came to give the place a thorough cleaning and she still found stuff to criticize that time. It turns out, though, that the problem with her being satisfied with the cleanliness is that instead of furiously cleaning the place, she furiously goes through my stuff. She was up much earlier than me on Saturday morning and I awoke to find all this stuff I had quite consciously hidden away for her arrival all laid out on my dining room table – poems I had written, bank statements, books she doesn’t approve of, etc… it was maddening.
The poetry part was the most frustrating not only because she is a mother and thinks it’s the most brilliant stuff in the world (which, while fine in it’s own way, just gets silly after a while), but because she really does want to understand me and so proceeded to try and dissect them line by line and word by word and demand that I explain to her the exact circumstances under which these poems were written and the step by step process of writing them. It was irritating. And while I appreciate the fact that she does want to know me better, it’s frustrating because she refuses to accept the me that she sees, thinking that there is some hidden me or some me that I am supposed to be but am not allowing myself to be right now. She constantly refers back to things that I said or liked when I was a child (ie: Laura Ashley wallpaper for my bedroom) and trying to insist that they are proof that I am only pretending now, instead of allowing for the possibility that a person can change over time, or even that styles can change over time (the Laura Ashley Wallpaper being a case in point.) She also refuses to accept anything I tell her about myself – ie: I’m an introvert… she allows that I might have ‘more introverted tendencies’ than her, but insists that I am, in actuality, an extrovert just like her.
We have discussed my sexuality over and over again this visit and I have been as honest with her as I think is humanly possible. She asked me if I had seen the video she sent and I told her I had, and then wanted to discuss the whole ‘intimate friendships with people of the same sex as a cure for homosexuality’ thing… once again insisting that I can’t possibly have any intimate friendships, which drives me crazy. As proof for this, she cited the fact that I don’t have anyone who could drop everything and go on a trip with me… which… well, do most people have friends like that? And to be frank, I’m actually fairly positive that if I wanted to, I could get someone to go on a trip with me, I have just never tried it. She also thinks I need more single friends (it is true that most of my friends are married, it’s a symptom of being in my 30s, I think) and found me a bunch of groups online for ‘straight single women’ or Christian singles. And then, of course, there have been her not so subtle hints that I need to change churches. She hasn’t liked my church for years, partially because it is not charismatic (at least, not enough for her liking) but mostly because she decided a while back that everyone there hates her. This is based on things like the time she went there when I wasn’t there and my pastor didn’t recognize her and greet her like an old friend. Concrete evidence like that.
What else was there… oh, once again, she digs way back into my past, talking about how when I was little I always said ‘when I grow up I’m going to get married and have 3 babies’, so obviously that is what I am destined to do. Oh, and at one point she asked me if I ever had any significant dreams, and I couldn’t really remember any except one I had from when I was very little about being attacked by dinosaurs and throwing them away but they would just keep coming. It took her a few days, but she has now decided that that dream is about my ‘struggle’.
Oh, and today she told me “I just want to affirm your femininity’, going on to say that I am very sensitive and I love children and have many feminine traits so there is no way I can be… you know (she didn’t say the word). Apparently lesbians are made of stone and hate children… at least, that is the inference.
(Just to fill you all in the when and where of the writing of this, my mom has returned from her walk and is now lying down so I have a few more minutes alone… of course, she returned from her walk and ‘asked’ if she could stay another night… one of those loaded questions to which there is only one appropriate answer. She could tell I wanted to say no, even asked me if I was sure, but… well, maybe I’m a coward, but I don’t know that there is any way to say no to her that won’t result in a fight that could last for ages.)
There was also the gem of a conversation that basically boils down to her theory that I am gay because I’m overweight. She explained that when I lose weight I’ll suddenly start to get attention from men and that will make me straight. She followed this with the ‘affirmation’ that I’m not bad looking… with the word ‘bad’ stretched out like a rubber band. She really needs to stop commenting on my appearance at all because her attempts at compliments always come out as insults.
(Again, in keeping with the theme of letting you know when I’m writing this, this next part is a full week after that last paragraph, my mother is back in Toronto – finally – and I have been to Toronto and back – without her knowing – for my friend’s bridal shower)
She asked me where I stand, and I said, quite truthfully, that I am still on the fence. She quickly grabbed onto that, thinking that I meant that I was on the fence about being gay, and I corrected her on that, explaining that I meant on the fence between celibacy for life or a gay relationship (to which she responded “I don’t want you to have a gay relationship…”, which was not a surprise). Maddeningly she cannot accept that celibacy is at all an okay choice, seeing it as giving up or a sign of depression or something. There was a lot of talk about my having given up hope, and how that was unhealthy… but of course, the hope she means is hope of becoming straight, meeting and marrying a man. And I suppose, she’s right. I still believe in an omnipotent God who could do that if He so desired, but I have long since stopped believing that He was going to make me straight, or even that that is what He wants for me. Believing that left me feeling unloved and abandoned by God, which I tried to explain to her, and she says she understands, but I don’t think she does. Our theology differs in a very fundamental way… I don’t know how to say this in a way that doesn’t seem condescending or demeaning, but her belief in God seems almost limiting to me. She believes she knows and can predict what God will do, and if God does not do what she thought He would then it is because we have not behaved according to the formula she believes He has given. There is no room for mystery or perhaps even misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what God may or may not want… or of God being so much bigger than we can possibly understand.
As I mentioned, I did go to Toronto this weekend for this bridal shower… and didn’t tell my mom because the bridal shower is for my friend who is marrying her female fiancée – ie: a gay marriage. My mom tried to call me on Saturday and couldn’t get a hold of me (because I wasn’t there) and by Sunday afternoon (seriously, one day!) she was very worried. (She actually called my Dad in Bermuda… which makes no sense. Why would he have any more information than she does?) When I got home from Toronto, late Sunday night, there was a series of increasingly panicked messages on my machine and so I called her back, thinking she must have been worried for my safety, but when I did manage to get a hold of her (on Monday) she informed me that she was worried that I was away with my girlfriend or something. So… she doesn’t believe me that I’m not with anyone right now, which… well, I don’t know what to make of that.
But in brighter news, the shower was a blast… I got to see my friend in her wedding dress and I came very near to crying. It’s beautiful. She looks like a fairy princess. And I’m slightly smitten now with an actual lesbian… who speaks English… this is big for me. A little frightening, but she’s taken so that dulls the fear. The girl in question is the bride’s cousin, who I had met before when she was 13 or 14, but now she’s 25 and gay and doing her PhD in Montreal (ie: an hour and a half away from me). Crushing on an actual gay girl is new for me and like I said, a little unnerving. But well… nothing will likely come of it. She’s all wrong for me (I think… I have no idea what’s right for me, to be honest… my expertise in this area is extremely limited), but we are supposed to get together to buy shoes for the wedding at some point, and I’m alarmingly excited (and terrified) by that upcoming event.
Anyway… this post has gone on forever and probably needs to be posted before I add something more to it.