When I was a kid, all I wanted was my mother. I loved all the things I didn’t know about her. Like how she knew what books were good. How she could speak fluent Spanish and cook West Indian food. Why she always smelled good and had the best snacks at her house. I loved the mystery that was Kimberly Kelly, until it wasn’t so much a mystery anymore. I loved going with her to her Narcotics Anonymous meetings, until I realized what narcotics were. I loved how vibrant she was, until it started to become belligerent and boisterous. I admired how smart she was, until she became someone who felt like they knew everything and had to have the last word. I loved my mother, until I got to know her.
My grandmother raised me, the streets raised my mother. She had a drug problem until I was 11 (her memory) but I don’t remember anything until I was 13 or 14. If she was clean then, I didn’t see enough of her to notice. Even after knowing my mom was on drugs, I still prayed that one day she would choose me and not cocaine. It wasn’t until she revealed to me that she had actually done drugs the morning she had me. It was more of a “look, you turned out just fine!” tone and the arrogance behind it festered my resentment. Our relationship was good and getting better until I moved to Atlanta and had to live with her for the first time in my life. I was 18 and she had given me a curfew and I was appalled. My grandmother had raised an amazing and responsible child up until that point and I never had any type of curfew. I just hung around good people and didn’t get into trouble. I had freedom, and now I was being treated like a child and a criminal. I realized my mother and I would never be able to live together the night I broke curfew by 11 minutes, because I had decided to stop at a store and get her a card & balloons for Mother’s Day. I was hurt that she couldn’t even be reasonable and understand that had I not wanted to surprise her the next morning, I wouldn’t have been late. She locked me out of the house that night and I went to stay with a friend from elementary school who luckily, lived down here too.
When she got pregnant with my sister, my hatred for her grew even more. I watched her smoke weed and drink, after she found out she was carrying. I was disgusted and I begged her to at least cut that shit out for this kid. You did coke with me, that wasn’t a big enough gamble? My mother thought this shit was a game. She pushed my birth father away before I ever got a chance to meet him and she didn’t even know who my sister’s father was! What was there to be proud of? What kind of mother did shit like that? She married some African nigga who sold fake shit at the discount mall, and I watched her love this man more than she seemed to love her children. She told me too much about their relationship, especially sexual things that as her child I had no interest in. There were more times than not, my mother crossed lines and overshared her life with me. She was trying to be my homegirl when I needed a fucking role model. It brought me back to her marriage before that, with my step father. I couldn’t even sit in his fucking recliner when I came to their house on the weekends, or eat anything that she bought for him. I was too young then to realize she was picking a man over me but I got my revenge the day she had the nerve to drive me to another nigga’s house and leave me in the car. I called my father and told him where we were and that she had left me downstairs and been upstairs for awhile. It was her ex-boyfriend or something, Idk but my dad flipped when I said his name. When we got home, he punched her in the face so hard her head bounced off of the wall. I didn’t flinch, and I watched her nurse a purple eye for weeks without so much as a word.
I had managed to go through 18 years of life, high school arguments over boys, had guns pulled on me and all; but never had to physically defend myself. Until I lived with my mother. I got into my first fight ever, with the woman who birthed me. I wanted to take her fucking head off the first time. I don’t remember much but I never looked at my mother the same after that. I threatened to kill her, and the only thing that saved her was my grandmother crying and telling me to calm down. The second fight was in 2014. I was washing dishes and had asked my mother a general question and she got smart and aggressive per usual. My grandmother had a glass fruit bowl on the counter, above the sink. My mother’s fingers came across the counter a few times and after I asked her to get her fucking hands out of my face, she taunted me. Next thing I knew, I’d shoved the glass bowl into her face so hard that it broke and our fists started flying. Again, my grandmother saved her. I ended up with 12 stitches in the palm of my hand that night, and a colder heart.
I didn’t speak to her for months after the fight, until we ran into each other at church and she asked me for a hug. I didn’t want to even look at her, but when she reached for me I broke down in tears. I didn’t want to hate her, I didn’t want to fight with her, but she brought that out of me. And I hated her for it. It seemed like no matter what I did, my mother was always going to be who she was. And for years I damn near broke myself in two, trying to force a good relationship with her. But she didn’t have a good relationship with my grandmother, and I was always caught in the middle. I felt let down by my mother, I was supposed to be proud of her. I wasn’t. I cringed when she told strangers I was her daughter. I remember going out with her one St. Patricks Day and watching her get slammed to the ground and arrested, for being drunk and arguing with a fucking cop. I was disgusted. I hated that she still dealt with men who weren’t shit. I hated being around her and looking into her glassy eyes, knowing she was high. I hated how she spoke to my grandmother and it rubbed off on me at times. I hated that she left my sister over our house on the weekends so she could go to hotel parties and be a fucking slut for 24 hours. I hated that she hadn’t accomplished anything and wasn’t an inspiration at all or anyone I wanted to be anything like. I hated everything about her.
She wasn’t there with me when I gave birth to my first child. I had to google everything I needed to know during the first 6 months of my daughter’s life, or go off of instincts. I didn’t know to how to hold my baby. I didn’t know what to do when she was constipated and it was my fault because I switched her from breast milk straight to formula instead of mixing it. I didn’t know how to do shit really, I remember emailing a 24-hour emergency nurse line when she got thrush. I sent pictures and they told me what to do, and my baby was fine. What the fuck would she even know though, if she had been around? She hadn’t had me and kept me long enough to be able to help anyways. I was in the hospital with my daughter’s father, giving birth to my first child, and that’s it. But I had been there when my mom had my sister. I don’t ever remember her sacrificing any fucking thing for me. I don’t remember her ever putting me first or doing whatever it took to provide for me. My grandmother did that, and I’m honestly glad my mother chose drugs over me. I would’ve been fucked. When I was planning my wedding last year, she didn’t go dress shopping with me. She wasn’t that annoying mother that every girl has, she wasn’t calling me and making sure I had shit together. She didn’t even act interested at all, and I cared a lot less as time went on. I didn’t even get married in the end but now I know, I want to elope for sure. I don’t have many great memories of my mother and honestly, it’s the only thing another woman can have that would make me jealous of her.
I just wanted a mother. A good one.
I was in Target the other day, picking out my grandmother’s Mother’s Day card and it hit me. As I read through the cards for mom, I couldn’t relate to any of the words in ANY of them. I went through about 20 cards. All of them were praising their mother for being their hero, for supporting them and sacrificing for them, for always being there period and I had had enough. I walked away without a card for my mother and I wasn’t sad about it. I’m almost 30, there’s no reason to sugar coat shit with her anymore. I don’t have the energy, and honestly I’m glad I had such a shitty mother.
It’s taught me to be a really amazing one, and for that I’m grateful.