Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy hours

On Tulip Grove Drive, where I spent my formative years, my mother was the one who wore the pants. She was the chef, the house cleaner, the laundress, homework helper, snack preparer, lunch box note writing, dinner making, boss. She did it all, and she let you know how she hated every minute of it. Everyday was walking on egg shells with my mother, and trying to stay our of her hair, so she would not be more visibly annoyed than she already seemed. I never asked to have a sleepover party. I knew she would say no, and honestly, I knew she couldn't handle it. She didn't like my friends in the house too much. I didn't either. It stressed me out. If Andrea, my best friend, jumped off my bed, which was right above the kitchen, I already knew my mom was annoyed from the loud bang above her head. I was constantly saying Ssh. Please keep it down. I knew the noise level that was acceptable. Shouts, and loud yelling above a certain decibel got me nervous, and distracted me from the fun I was supposed to be having.
My mother never drove a car. Never got her license. Even to this day, my Dad has taken her everywhere she goes. She has never known the freedom of getting in a car, alone, and taking herself somewhere. She has always had to wait for either my Dad, or someone, to take her out of the house. Always waiting. Always a passenger.
I have been thinking about her a lot, now that I am stuck in my house, all day, with no ability to leave. It is an awful, suffocating feeling. Cars drive down my street, and I feel pangs of jealousy. I laid in bed until 1:00 in the morning last night, thinking of all the things that I can no longer do. I was crying. I am feeling overwhelmed by it all. I know we can't get another car, for the foreseeable future. I feel like I can't properly take care of three little girls, and all their needs.
I began to think of my own childhood last night in bed, and I started thinking about what it did to my mother and her mind, being trapped in the house with three kids. My Dad was a New York City Firefighter. Sometimes, he would be gone for 48 hours. My mother always looked sad. And mad. She started drinking martini's everyday, at around 4:00. Everyday. She would take out her little Tupperware plastic cocktail shaker. It's original purpose, I believe, was to whip cream, but it did double duty in our house. Out of the refrigerator came the tiny bottle of Spanish olives, and the cheap vodka from the cabinet, high above the oven. Then she would ice her martini glass. It was like a ritual. Everyday, at the same time, the same motions, the same sounds. Within a half an hour, Mom was different. Her voice changed, and her eyes softened. She seemed more interested in me. She talked to me. She didn't really talk to me much during the day. Just yelling, mostly. She would be loving by the second glass. Really sweet, but her voice would sound stranger. That was the window that she was almost enjoyable. Than it snapped shut. She never got mean. She was never sloppy. She just became annoying. She started acting goofy. It made me angry when I saw a certain look in her eyes. A drunk look. It made me hate her.
I sometimes get very afraid at how much like my mother I am. I fight it every day. I feel her scowl on my face. I look in the mirror, and see her hooded eyes. I sense my unhappiness, and feelings of desperation, and helplessness, and frustration. I hear the anger in my yells to my children. I hear how I let them know how hard it is for me to do this job. I listen to my belittling, and hurtful words, to my David. I taste it, in the way that wine at 5:00 some days feels like sweet relief, and surrender.
Charlotte cried to me yesterday. She said that some days, she tries so hard to make me happy, so that I won't be so sad. I thought about that all night in bed, and my heart broke. Some days, I feel like if we just had a little more money, everything would be OK. If I had a car, things would be fine. If we could pay all of our bills, and had a little left over to send them to dance class, we would be golden.
It seems like lack of money and a car are not the only thing preventing me from properly taking care of three little girls.

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