I had a mother I wasn't good enough for no matter how hard I tried. She didn't make a secret of her expectations and I tried to live up to them, but I always fell short. You might think this was some rebellion or some passive agressive bullshit of a sullen daughter and maybe in my adolescence for a moment or two you would have been right, but I did try to be a good enough daughter for my mother from beginning to the bitter end.
There are many people who knew my mother and almost worshipped her. The mythology about her is larger than life and I have no reason to do battle with that ghost. That woman was a fiction anyway so no amount of revision can correct the record. That woman had press clippings. That woman won awards and served on boards of directors and Grand Juries. That woman went to the International Year of the Woman. That woman was a poet and an artist. That woman was a pioneering Utah Feminist and those two words aren't often spoken in the same sentence together. That woman was larger than life. And I knew her just well enough to know my job was to stay well out of her lime light.
My mother told her fans and those she called her friends that she loved me, but I knew that was part of her image. How could you tell your friends you didn't love your own child? Truth was it was motherhood she hated. And any competition for attention. Maybe it wasn't personal, but why did she hang onto me so desperately? To me it seemed like mere sadism, that need to ruin things for me just when I was starting to have a bit of a life for myself. She would manufacture some personal crisis of hers that required my return home to Utah and I'd be trapped again. Why was I so dutiful? Why was I so obedient? It was then again the list of my many failures and shortcomings that would be hauled out and enumerated over and over just in case I'd forgotten how much of a failure I really was. I smelled bad to her, she hate my voice, I walked too fast or too slow, I payed to much attention to others and too little attention to her. I didn't share her hatreds or causes. She hated fat people. Though always skinny, I empathized with them. I always felt sorry for the targets of my mother's enmity, since I'd always been one. She said jump, I asked how high. Why was that? Why did I never have the courage to turn my back and walk away? Because she was my mother. That's the power a mother has. Use it well mothers. You have the power to warp a life forever.
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