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40 Whole Years

by Sara Balliett about a year ago in parents
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An Epiphany

My mother

FIFTY!?" The number seemed completely unfair. I was seething and I had to wrap my tongue over my top teeth, to keep myself from biting it off. It seemed like an infinity. 50. "Yes fifty times." Mom said, with narrow eyes that could rival Scarlett O'hara herself. " I will respect others".

I stormed off and up the stairs, fists bunched up, stomping each step with conviction so she knew how unfair she was being. I grab the skinny of the door and slam it as hard as I could and belly flop face down on my bed. " Ughhhh I hate you!" I scream into the mattress.

I will respect others.

"I TOLD YOU NOT TO CALL ME AT WORK UNLESS SOMEONE IS BLEEDING!" Mom's voice snapped through the receiver. I had the cord stretched as far as it would go around the corner into the living room where my brother lay on the floor wailing, both hands over his eye. "MOM! HE'S BLEEDING!" I shout as he wollars at my feet. I'm so screwed. I knew it. Mom says "Dammit. I'll be there in a minute." Fear and guilt. It didn't matter what HE did. I was older. He was my responsibility while mom was at work. She made me stand there and hold his hand while they cleaned the skin draping down over his eye. He was trembling. Crying. I winced as the doctor stitched his eye back up. That was my lesson. Repercussions.

I will be more responsible.

All I wanted was to see my friends. Why couldn't I have a charmed life and just be a kid? Does she think I'm her SLAVE? I rushed through my chores. Fast. Sometimes mom didn't check. But that just wasn't my luck that day. Mom's face was sour. She stretched out her arm and pointed into the den with a long red fingernail. "If you're gonna do something, do it right the first time." She continued with how I had wasted even more time with my pathetic attempt of skimming it past her. My nostrils flared out and I blasted out a puff of air as I unwinded the vacuum cord AGAIN.

I will be accountable.

We were so cool. Eleven a.m. on a Tuesday, nonchalantly strolling into my backyard from the alley that we had walked down for several blocks, 007 style. We shared a menthol my friend stole from her mom. Not even to the garage, my mother swung open the back door, "WHAT IN THEE HELL?" Mom was supposed to be at work and we were supposed to be at school.

My friend hid the cigarette behind her back. "Oh, I'm calling your mother too!" Mom says to my friend. I was so busted. My head hung. "The school called me, do you think im stupid?" Mom hurls her fury at me. "no" I say. "What was that?" She asks. "No, you're not stupid mom." I tell her. I was ashamed. Deception.

I will not deceive.

I was a terrible child. A heathen. Perhaps the worst of the four of us. I was always a jerk. And mom was always mad. I loathed her. She felt so rigid and strict. I always debated with her about what other kids my age were allowed to do. What they could wear. Their curfew. She would always think about and sometimes try a different approach with me. She would negotiate, make deals, and compromise with me and I would let her down nearly every time. "WHY CAN'T YOU TREAT ME LIKE AN ADULT?!" I fired at her. She calmly and plainly looked up from her papers she was working on and she said to me, "I will treat you like an adult, when you act like an adult." Boom! That one hit me like a cannon. She was right. I was wrong. I wasn't behaving like an adult at all. I was standing there blank faced with absolutely no rebound. She was right. That hung with me for years.

I will submit when I am wrong.

I have most definitely butted heads with my mother most of my life. She thought she knew everything. She was a matter of fact type of gal. The truth is, she knew way more than me. It took me 40 years to see. 40 years to recognize. I literally feel like the karate kid being tricked into life skills. What comes so naturally for me is sometimes a struggle for others. I wish I knew that then. The effort it takes to raise a decent human being into adulthood is flat out exhausting. I don't know how she did it all. We always had what we needed. A clean, five bedroom home. A home cooked meal at 6 pm every night. Great holidays. I don't know what my problem was. Hormones? Red hair? I have no idea, but my mother is super human and she did a lot of it by herself. I understand now mom. All of it. Every single thing that I thought that I hated, I get it now. Being a mother is so hard. It sometimes takes all of your energy. It's heartbreaking sometimes. It's frustrating. I am very sorry that I didn't appreciate you. Mother, you are steadfast. You are consistent. You deserve to lay on beaches and sip cocktails for all the hard work you put into me. I am thankful for you. I love you mom.


About the author

Sara Balliett


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