i heard the news today, oh boy

Over the weekend, on my way home from working with a client, I got a text from my husband: "News for you when you get home!"

I wondered what the news might be, and the FIRST thing that popped into my head as something meriting an exclamation point was that my mother had died. 

How sick and twisted is that? 

I knew, of course, that this was probably not the news (and it wasn't). I knew that it was unlikely that she had died, and unlikely that he would text me if she had, and unlikely that he would end such a text with such exuberant punctuation. But still, it was the FIRST thing I thought of (the second was that he wanted to tell me that we're pregnant, but, um, it's usually the woman who finds out first, and we're very done having babies anyway). Clearly it's something that I think would be exciting, happy news. 

I've thought about her death before; not in a causing-it kind of way but a hoping-it's-sooner-rather-than-later way, and a boy-will-I-feel-relieved kind of way. I anticipate that when it happens, I will feel a lot of very good emotions. I'm not sure I'll have many sad feelings, if any. Who knows - only time will tell. I will probably need to go be by myself to experience this odd joy, since it's not exactly the kind of thing you trumpet in public. I will also probably need to have some sort of private, personal ceremony to mark the occasion. I'm not sure whether or not I'll attend her funeral. 

Driving home, I wondered if it's really all that sick for somebody like me to hope for and possibly celebrate the passing away of her parent. I mean, if somebody feels happy about another person's disappearance from the earth, doesn't it seem more likely that the dead person was horribly toxic in the living person's life, rather than that the living person is some kind of horrible, messed-up, cold-hearted jerk? Why shouldn't I feel glad and relieved when it happens? Hasn't that always been the reaction of the oppressed to the toppling of a tyrant? 

Even though I've come a long way from feeling dominated in my everyday life by my mother, she still has some hold on  me. I may treat my anxiety and depression, examine my parenting and attempt to be ever-mindful of being a compassionate mother, work on identifying my insecurities and figuring out how to turn them around, but taking control of my own life doesn't mean that I'm completely free of her. She is still present in the awkwardness between my siblings and myself, the old resentments and the present grudges. She is still a risk in some small way, because she is unpredictable, has ambushed me in the past, and could spring at me again, next week or ten years from now. Whenever she dies, I will know that it's done. There will only be old garbage, nothing new, no lurking threat. 

Being done will be good news, indeed.

our winter shadow

A tin of magnetic words sits on top of our fridge, covered in dust. Yesterday, I pulled a handful of words out and selected one at a time, usually randomly, and placed them in whatever order seemed right. When the poem felt done, I stopped. This is what resulted. The meaning is vague, but it resonates with me, somehow. I can see my own power and my mother's power in it, expressed in different ways. Maybe it is about the essence of motherhood?