I begged off selling concessions for the kids play and all the attendant bending and retrieving sodas from ice filled coolers and went home and finished a novel. I returned in time to see the curtain calls and take my happy thespians out for Mother’s Day dinner. Another minute was shaved off the play (Sunday: 2 hours and 59 minutes) and best of all, the writer-director took the time to apologize to the children for his rant about missed rehearsals, which I thought was incredibly classy and was a beautiful example of taking responsibility for screwing up and apologizing for all the kids. We went for Vietnamese food and on the way back to our car, there was a hugely pregnant Hispanic woman who was spending Mother’s day wrestling with a big industrial mop and trying to keep two sweet faced toddlers in tow while she cleaned the scuzzy elevator at the Bamboo Plaza. I was slapped by how inconsequential my complaints really are. The fifteen year old made me a mix tape with rappers singing about their moms and even if some of the moms are referred to as crackhead skank hos, I am touched. Spuds purchased two boxes of Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon for me and we polished off a whole one and half of the other while we watched the Mother’s Day episodes of the Simpsons and Family Guy. It was a good Mother’s Day.
I woke up though feeling the dread of knowing that even though there are only four weeks left in the semester, we could not send the fifteen year old back to his school and there was no other place to enroll him. Simply keeping him home could have loosed truant officers on us and would have guaranteed he’d receive no academic credit for the ninth grade. I’d spent hours on the phone trying to find a solution. I was referred to an independent study program but was told they were no longer accepting students. In my fierce mother mode, I asked for the principal and explained our circumstances. Exceptions were made (and deserved!) and the fifteen year old will begin an independent study program near our home and with a very sweet teacher, tomorrow. If he doesn’t fuck up (and the level of scrutiny will be code red) he will be able to begin 10th grade in September with full credit and good grades for all of the 9th grade. He is cheerful today, watching DOA and performing odd jobs here at the office and relieved to have a clean slate and perhaps even to have a fierce, unrelenting mother.
Richard, knowing the nightmare I am going through with the school, took it upon himself to call my aunt, who he has known for years and socialized with frequently. He politely asked her to give me a buzz before taking my mom from the facility. My expectation was that she would apologize because her thoughtlessness had spoiled our Mother’s Day celebration and the commemoration of my sister’s 65th birthday. But, my aunt hit the ceiling and was terribly insulted. This is someone who has never approved of me and she and her late husband seemed to expect me to kiss their asses despite this. I wrote her a letter thanking her sincerely for the effort she put in to visiting my mom but also stating pretty clearly that if her continuing attentions to my mother were hostage to my fawning and ass kissing that we could all live without them. I was very polite but firm and feel almost exhilarated that I’ve ended or at least redefined on my own terms, a relationship that has made me feel inferior and small my whole life. This woman would punish my mother (her husband’s sister) by withholding her attention because of my failure to grovel and suck up and it feels good to have removed myself from that dance. And my mother will never know the difference, visit or no visit.
I don’t think my (too weak to crack plaster) fist will be pounding any walls today. My children witnessed a lovely example of an adult admitting poor judgment and saying he was sorry. We saw a downtrodden woman celebrating Mother’s Day by mopping up filth and see the smallness of our own complaints. The fifteen year old is relieved to be out of a school where he wasn’t safe and even noted his appreciation for the love and tenacity I displayed in making this happen. I have stood up for myself in a relationship with someone who has made me feel wrong and small for as long as I can remember. I don’t have to mop elevators and my children really do love me and there are many other people who love and approve of me without requiring me to kiss their asses. I’m sure that in no time the 15 year old will piss me off but good and that there will be more stern lectures from Spuds when I don’t live up to his conservative ideals and/or don’t keep my mouth shut when he feels it prudent. Inevitably, some asshole’s cellphone won’t be on when I urgently need to reach him and our bed will be made like it’s been short sheeted in some sort of fraternity prank. Maybe next time my fist will actually penetrate the wall but tonight I’m going to bootcamp to jump over friggin hurdles and bitch and moan with the girls I love and then come home here to Tobacco Road and remake my room temperature iq made bed and get into it and read a novel and there’s still half a box of Mike and Ike on the night stand. I think sometimes about winning the lottery but except for the money part, it feels at this moment like I have.