Teen there, Done that

20 03 2010

“But my dreams, they aren’t as empty

As my conscience seems to be”

Perfect words for teenagers struggling with being ignorantly selfish/self-consumed in a small world that hasn’t broken open for them yet. Doesn’t apply to all the world’s youth, of course.

I am several years removed from teenhood today but I still remember the pain of my parents not understanding me – of being branded evil, lazy, shades of worthless. My visions of living in a house without them fueled my forward motion. My creativity and dreams were another world, deep and suffering in a private space that I could share with no one.

In certain moments, I might crave a closeness with my parents that still doesn’t exist (and might never) but to speak that to them, back then, wouldn’t have worked. Our existence was a battle of rights. I moved out at the age of 15.

In today’s world of Facebook-connectivity, a time when your mom can be an official Friend, I find a scale tipped. She is another person, another version of herself as I am by now as well. Her ancient racism, for example, that years ago threatened to destroy so many of my relationships – that propelled me deeper into a private universe of secrecy and journals – now rests unseen in our memories. A time we don’t speak of.

The only bridge that connects then to now is one graffit’d with her saying she’s been such a bad mother. These words – so strange. “You realize this?”, I always wanted to say but never could. These words came years after my departure. I looked to my sibling for how to respond … “Just tell her that you love her” that way she doesn’t get hurt and maybe she’ll stop graffiting that damn bridge and we can all just move on. Right or wrong, that’s what I did. And here we are – looking forward (mostly).

I wonder if she has many lives and if they ever interact. What would the 90s version feel in the face of our Facebook relationship? What would the 90s version see in the postings between me and my friends – some of the very people she ‘forbade’ me from seeing. And now even, what does she think as she witnesses our friendships play out on the screen. That we turned out okay? That we are no less or more than she is, was or ever will be?

Her attempts, when I was under her roof, to shove me into a mold never worked. I wonder – what if they had? A racist, sexist-complicit woman raises another?

In the real word, today, I post things that interest me to Facebook – things I want to share with my friends – musings on social justice, bits of news from around the world. Social Justice to her was a thing you erase with a cappuccino. Inequality was something that was universe-ordained, meant to be. Not to be discussed. But today? Today I post these things and I get a virtual thumbs-up from her, my mother of ancient bias. I write something up and she comments that she is proud of me.

What would the 90s me think of that?

Ten years after I moved out of her house and this is how we are right now. Although it could crumble at any moment, she believes in me and our relationship gets its strength from that. I trust her more and view her as a person (not just a mother) and our relationship gets strength from that, too.

She doesn’t talk about being a bad mother anymore. I never did ask her to elaborate on that and only very rarely regret the missed opportunity to better understand my upbringing. The moments when we existed together in the same house are held in the space between us – a safe zone unacknowledged. I find that I feel thankful that we’ve made it to this place.

Those lyrics came to me as I was driving the other day and these thoughts just flooded in alongside them.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: