Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The rage within

When I was a girl, I had a terrible relationship with my mother. Truly, it seemed as though she didn't like me, and the only way I could achieve a truce was to do it—everything—her way.

I wanted long hair; she cropped it brutally short. She wanted me to be unfailingly sweet-tempered and respectful; I rose to every provocation. She wanted me to do chores; I wanted to be untethered from anything having to do with home.

In college and beyond, I've mostly been able to do it my way: I wore my hair long and wild; I spoke my mind; I found a (mostly) stay-at-home partner and largely avoided household toil.

So one of the things that get under my skin when I head out for California and my quarterly stint of elder care is a certain sense of defeat. In the end, after all these years, she's won. Cancer has shorn my hair more harshly than her shears, and only a monster would be anything but kind and helpful in the face of her frailty.

1 comment:

Robin Amos Kahn said...

It's one of the challenges of dealing with ailing parents - the ambivalence we often feel. But in the end, I think it's the right thing to do, even though sometimes it's really really hard.