“Of all the kids, you are most like me” my mom told me once while sitting on my bed at the ER, a vacation earned from yet another drug overdose. I took this as a compliment.
My mother is relentless in her pursuit of truth and success. That’s why she was the CFO of a multi-million dollar company before I was even born, and now sits on boards where they give her fat checks for going out to dinner once a quarter. She’s the reason my sister is a surgeon instead of an airline stewardess. At points, my mom has supported all of us, financially, emotionally, and mentally. She still supports my beautiful English Bulldog and buys him things he never would have seen if he still lived with me.
There are a thousand good qualities I could list that she gave me with her DNA, but one of the ‘bad’ ones is far more interesting.
We both have cleaning induced mania and OCD.
When I was little my Mom would take off work for a week, bring in both cleaning ladies, and go through the house with q-tips and toothpicks, eliminating anything that even looked like dirt. I think that even my Dad enjoyed watching this particular brand of crazy, and it’s probably why I still think it’s safe to eat things off the floor.
When I would move home for a couple months to regroup and/or detox, we’d frequently start large scale cleaning projects after 10pm. The sun would be coming up as we took our final bag of trash from the garage. “Once I start I have trouble stopping” I told her once. She laughed and said “you are my son”.
When I moved into a house in Squirrel Hill a few years ago she spent eight hours scrubbing every single surface, walls and ceilings. My mother, the CFO, who makes more money each morning than I probably will for the rest of my life, scrubbing the walls furiously with a sponge. She was actually mad that she didn’t get to finish and kept bugging me about coming back for a solid week.
She always lets me borrow her steam cleaner and when I do the rugs at her house we both like to watch the dirty water that comes out of the machine as it circles the drain. It’s probably a control thing.
If I want to know the best way to clean something she’s always my first call.
She’s also the first person I call when I’m in over my head, drowning again, even though I opened the flood gates. Her first question is always “are you ok?” and “do you need me to pick you up?”.
She stayed in my apartment for two weeks and watched my dog while I came off methadone. She’s driven me to soccer practice, college (part one, two, and three), and therapy appointment after therapy appointment. When I was younger my friends always told me how jealous they were that she was my mom. Decades later, my friends are still telling me the same thing.
There’s a Vonnegutt novel where the kids cut contact with their parents. They hate them for reproducing and passing on mental illness. I brought this up once to her (I doubt she remembers), but only because I thought it was so silly. I love my broken brain, and I know she always will, even when it’s brokenness is affecting her.
I have two cards she gave me in my last rehab. I didn’t open them when she dropped them off because I knew I was leaving and knew I was going to break her heart. I still haven’t opened them.
“No one’s ever going to love you kids more than her” my Dad has said to me on more than one occasion. I know he’s right, that no matter how many people I meet, that he will always be right.
I have two burner cells and wanted to call her today. I think there’s just too much to say at this point. Too many unanswered questions. I don’t want to compound her worry by calling and not having any answers.
So instead, I wrote this and cried.