My dream is to write a book that combines my irreverent take on toxic moms with interviews from others who agree that cutting family ties can be often the sanest option.
Because, really, in a world where taboos have lost all their shame isn’t being an “undutiful daughter” just about the last thing to which anyone would admit?
Now I know that might sound a little grrrr, a little mean, but only because you don’t know me yet.
Nor have you met my mothers.
I’ve got three, which means I’ve got material, honey.
Take, for example, a telephone call I received one beautiful summer morning a couple of years back. It just so happened that I was on-call as a volunteer law enforcement chaplain, which required me to answer my phone on the first ring. To hear the reedy, elderly voice of my mother was a shock. Not to mention, how did she get my unlisted home number?
What kind of mother was she? Well, she took me everywhere with her. Especially to her boyfriend’s homes or smoky bars, where I was left at the curb locked in her turquoise Chevy Impala with a cotton pillow slip to embroider.
The grammar school me sat eye-to-eye with the glove box gazing up at telephone lines slicing the blue sky or down at my sewing. Hours of looking up and down super charged my hair with static electricity from the plastic upholstery. It’s why so many my childhood photos show me as if I just came in from a storm.
So, you can imagine how close my mother and I were.
Indeed, after decades of no contact my mother missed me. She wished I would call her more often.
“Tell you what. Let me call you right back. That would be two conversations in one day,” I said before I hung up.
But I didn’t hang up with a bang like I used to. I took my time checking in with dispatch . Then I suited up for my day of community service, slipping my clerical collar tab into the left cup of my serious black bra, so I wouldn’t forget the most important thing I own.
Then I sat down to return the oddest call I could remember.
When I was a newspaper reporter I wrote obituaries and covered metro stories that included so much pain and sorrow. As a chaplain I am trained to be a silent support to those suffering sudden loss. The combination of those activities, plus maturity had put me in a different place about my mother.
I realized that my mother, who stumbled through my life with a tumbler of cheap wine swirling and swishing on furniture, carpets and dogs, held no sway over my emotions other than triggering concern for a lonely elder.
If she hadn’t called I’d never have known that my mother had lost her power to make me feel like a frightened, confused child.
In a way I was grateful to her.
She said she’d like me to visit her. Coincidentally I had been practicing saying no, so I told her, “I really don’t see that happening.”
That shocked her, but I was okay with that. I knew I was right to protect myself.
Maybe you’ve felt that way, too . . .
This book idea crawled out of an emotional cauldron of shame and guilt I tended for the first half of my life. Now I’m counting on your clicks, your comments, even your scolds to help me write Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter.
Rayne Wolfe completed her dream journey May of 2011 on 8WD after a year living her dream. You can find her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.