“We need to talk,” my daughter’s text read. I’ll come over around 10:00 ok?”
This is more serious than I thought.
I mentally did a checklist of my bad behavior from the night before. After a long day, too much happy hour, and an unfavorable restaurant choice for dinner, I had developed a mood and took it out on the waiter and my family.
“What do you mean you don’t have sparkling mineral water?” I asked the young waiter, “I really expect you’d be more current with your choices of non alcoholic drinks, club soda is gross.” I knew it was bitchy, but at that moment I didn’t care. My daughter glared at me after he left. I glared back, looked at my phone and that was the last eye contact we made for the rest of our meal.
I knew I was wrong but hadn’t a clue how to get back to the nice time we were having for the last 2 hours. I had created an alcohol induced elephant in the room that everyone could see but noone wanted to look at. Afterwards, I apologized to the manager and waiter.
Reading my daughter’s response once again I typed, “Sure,” pressed send and waited for her to come over.
“Mom, you sounded entitled and when you get like that you’re sour, like our neighbor down the street.”
Like our neighbor…, the person who, with one sentence, can move the entire block party to the next street.
“Thank you for telling me this, it’s so good for me to know. We should have made reservations earlier so we didn’t have to wait for dinner and I shouldn’t have had that last cocktail. I’m sorry, and really, this makes me think.” It felt a little like an intervention. As if the car was running outside, waiting to take me to the Betty Ford clinic for bitchy mothers. There were so many ways I could have reacted to her accusation. I looked at both daughters and my husband, gulped back embarrassed excuses and held my tongue.
For my daughters to be able to tell me that came from years of listening to them without reacting. Although embarrassed at my behavior I was glad they were able to tell me what they needed to say. It would be so easy for our relationship to corrode over time because we don’t talk, let the elephant grow and grow in the corner of the living room while we looked away and pretended that we all liked each other. Years ago I vowed that would not happen.
There was an elephant in my house growing up and I wished there were things I could openly talk about with my mom but I never did. It was uncomfortable for me and probably more uncomfortable for her, I couldn’t say now.
My family didn’t want to hear the excuses of why I spiraled from too much happy hour into depression. That I had been at a funeral that morning for a friend’s father that so reminded me of my Dad, of my own mortality and the fear of, “What if? What if I find a lump?” Next week is my oldest son’s birthday, he’s the same age I was when my mom died.
“I can’t imagine having your mom die at 30.” my daughter said recently. Gulping down emotion I said, “It was hard but seriously, her death taught me how to live.”