Today while doing my weekly major housecleaning I began to seethe quietly about my mother. A stupid thing brought it on. I was using one of the crotcheted dishcloths she buys me every year at the Church bazaar and remembering how she ragged on my ass over Christmas because I had failed to bleach them.

They are 50 cents each. They are shit — they absorb nothing. I use them because they are cute for the first two weeks, they look like some kind of little blanket you’d find in a dollhouse — and then I don’t give it a lot of thought, and I toss them out when they’ve outlived their welcome because I know I will get another 8,000 of them over the course of  the year (I especially appreciated getting them for my 40th birthday. Dishrags! Thanks, Mom! Hope they didn’t set you back too much!) But as I was preparing to cook a big turkey dinner, picking up some last-minute gifts, baking, cleaning up, organizing the entire holiday, I was catching shit from a snide old bag because I had failed to bleach her stupid-ass 50-cent dishrags.


My mother was/is a mean shrew of a woman whose lunacy helped produce three children who, in various ways, are complete headcases. And yet, three weeks before Mother’s Day, even when we were children, she started drawing up her list of gifts that she expected from me and my two siblings. As adults, the phone calls would start a month ahead of time: Here’s what I want. Where are you taking me for brunch?

I have never said, but dearly wanted to: You have got a fucking nerve, woman, expecting us to bend over backwards for you every goddamned Mother’s Day. Why? To thank you for a lifetime of low self-esteem, simmering rage issues and a belief that nothing we ever do is good enough? Yeah, thanks for that! Here are your Town Shoes leather fucking slippers! What’s that? How could I have been so stupid and bought you “white” when you wanted “bone?” Hey, Hagatha, you know what you can do with your slippers? Shove them up your ass!

OK, that was an imagined conversation. Instead one of us usually stormed out and then spent a week on the phone with the other raging about just  how profound our hatred was. Meanwhile, my mother was doing furious damage control, phoning the other two siblings to claim she was misunderstood and everyone just takes her too seriously. Why don’t we GET OFF HER BACK?

Anyway, once I had kids I sort of put the kibosh on a lot of her Mother’s Day shit, as in: I am a mother now. I spend it with my own kids. I don’t expect anything from them, by the way — I just like being with them. Weird, isn’t it?

This year my son asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I couldn’t think of anything and told him not to worry about it. Today I went downstairs into his basement video game lair and he had cleaned it all up, vacuumed, tidied, rearranged furniture, put laundry in the washing machine, etc.  I gave him a kiss and said that was the only Mother’s Day present I needed. And it’s true. Just a nice gesture, telling me he appreciated that I usually cleaned up after him, and so this weekend, he decided to do it. That’s enough for me.