Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cut the Umbilical Cord Already!

In my previous post, I did correlate my neck pain with my mother, but I regret doing that. Today she just proved her nurturing and loving ways. She always proves her nurturing ways in a bit of an aggressive way, but I love her anyway.

See, even when I was younger, she was okay with the concept of me dating other guys. They weren’t a threat to her. The thought of a woman taking ‘her’ place was the real threat. A woman would ‘take care’ of me; nurture me and be the other woman who could provide that sort of care.

Instead of bringing home Mr. Right to meet my mother, I brought home Miss Possibly Right. She didn’t approve of any of them. Either she looked like a tramp or she must be a prostitute. In my eyes—the girls I brought home to meet mom were ‘good enough’ to bring home to meet mom. Get me? So the ones that I did hide from mom were a bit on the wild side.

Since the day I moved out of the nest, mom babied me. I’d come home from school to a perfectly cleaned room. It was almost as if you walked into a new hotel room that the maids primped up for your arrival. Laundry was done, carpet was vacuumed and the bed was made. She never left any chocolates on my pillow though. That was traumatizing. I had my own bathroom in my bedroom—which was always disinfected to the max. That bathroom was the cause of my OCD. Everything has to be clean as the loo I grew up with.

Each morning she’d prepare a big breakfast for me to start the day. I hardly ate lunch at school because my mother had a gourmet lunch waiting for me at home around 2pm. I’d wait. I refused to eat sloppy joes from some gross sweaty lunch maid who hated all of us. God knows what she put in that meat! Anyway, I’d come home to see a beautiful healthy lunch sitting there with a large glass of iced-tea. After lunch, I’d head out to play with my friends or I would simply take a nap until she woke me up for dinner.

When I was eighteen years old, I was working long hours and coming home by 7 or 8pm. At this time, mom didn’t clean my room, but she still did a few loads of laundry here and there… Ah hell, who am I kidding—she did all my laundry still. I cleaned my own room, because she refused to climb over the new waterbed she got me, and get stuck in it trying to make it perfect. Plus—I had ‘little stashes’ in my room that I didn’t want her to see. So, the real deal is, mama was forbidden to clean my room. I told her I would do it instead.

At the age of twenty I met Madelene. My mother finally approved of someone I brought home. Could this be? Mama gave up on fighting for me? I couldn’t get over it. She actually was happy with my selection. Who wouldn’t be though? Madelene’s a beautiful person inside and out. She got along with every single family member—even the difficult ones. She soon became part of the family.

The day I moved out with Madelene was a sad and happy event all wrapped in one. I was finally leaving the nest to spend my life with the woman I loved. Mom never thought I was serious as I rummaged through the newspaper looking for condos and places to rent out. She would always look at my father and say, “She’ll never leave…” And my father would always reply, “Why would she wanna leave here? She’s got it made here!” And that was the end of that. They gave one another comforting dialog to move passed the awkward, ‘my last daughter is moving out’ syndrome.

Reality hit when I was packing up my car with bags of clothes and belongings. No, I didn’t have sophisticated luggage or bags. It was hefty bags and I was fine with it. Millions of trips back and forth from my house to the new condo we were going to live at finally came crumbling down when my mother saw me take the last load of whatever out.

“Come hug me mommy.” Mom said, with tearful eyes. She called all her daughters ‘mommy’. It’s a term of endearment for Italians to do this. Just like the Latina culture where they call one another ‘mamita’ or ‘ma’.

She hugged me so tightly that I couldn’t breathe. She started crying and then I started to cry. She sat Madelene down to explain what was needed to take care of “Deb”. This was the embarrassing part.

“Remember, she likes her bathroom pristine and cleaned daily. She starts off with breakfast every morning—she doesn’t skip. She loves to have her sheets tucked in—not left out. Her sanitary napkins have to be ‘this kind’ (leaving that brand out thank you very much) and she needs two boxes ahead just in case so she feels better. Everything has to be two ahead, from her shampoos, soaps, toothpaste and hair products. If you see one left in the inventory of your cabinets, it’s time to get another.”
“Rose! I know, I’m gonna take good care of her. I love your daughter and I’m going to make sure she is happy. Don’t worry, okay?”
“Okay.”
Mom said, as she hugged Madelene tightly.

I managed somehow to live on my own, and do things for myself for the first time. It was quite an experience for me. I actually enjoyed it! I never knew that grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning could be so much fun. It was my ‘own place’, and I was able to personalize it with my own unique style. It was much more fulfilling to clean, cook and do someone else’s laundry. Why? I guess love has a lot to do with it. I showed Madelene I cared by doing these things. I wanted to. I enjoyed it, because it made her comfortable. Now I know why my mother did this for me. Some may disagree with that sort of thing and say that it’s unhealthy to baby a child until she’s a young adult. To me? I appreciated every single moment of it.

Now that I live upstairs from mom, she is accessible. No, she doesn’t do my laundry or clean my apartment up here, but she does offer many delicious dinners to us. This morning, Madelene woke up very sick. She has a stomach virus and can’t get up to do anything. I woke up with my neck stiffer than ever. I can’t do anything but lay here on my bed writing this to the world. I can’t do anything else.

My mother didn’t hear anybody leaving the house. She didn’t even hear anybody stirring around. We get a phone call. Guess who? She asked what was wrong and if she could do anything. Well, moments later, she came running up to our place with a gourmet breakfast and hot coffee. She asked if she could do anything for us. She’s off to get some heating pads for my neck and some medicine for Madelene.

Even though I make fun of my mom and compare her to the mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond”, I don’t think I’d want it any other way.

I’m totally a mama’s girl!