Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Happiness of Soap

I make my own laundry soap.  Partly because it's a gazillion dollars cheaper than buying it from the store, (I can make ten gallons for less than three dollars) and partly because it's just something I like to do to.  I'm definitely not a professional at homemaking, but I do like doing those few "Little House on the Prairie" things that I'm good at, in order to help keep us afloat. 

I bottle it up, and store it in the utility closet until I'm ready to use it, then I start washing away, secretly wishing for a wringer and a clothes line.  It makes me happy. 

A few people have discovered the secret awesome-ness of this homemade wonder, and from time to time will send me their empty jugs to fill.  This also makes me happy. 

I'm happy to share with them, something that makes me happy. 

Happiness everywhere. 

Filling my bottles today, feeling, well, happy, and full of old-fashioned domestic satisfaction, I thought, "I should send this bottle to my mother!  I'll bet she'd love it.  Maybe I'll call her today and invite her over to get it..." 


Happiness wilted. 

I don't have a mother that I'd just invite over on a whim, without some definite back-up plan to get her immediately out of my house.  I don't have a mother that I'd invite over for soap, and ask her to stay for coffee, while we chat about the current goings-on in our lives.  I don't have a mother that my children will be happy to see upon arriving home from school...

I have a mother who will keep people waiting on her indefinitely, and then, back out of plans, simply in order to have control over whether or not people wait on her.  I have a mother who will say "I'll be there in ten minutes," and who will then be four hours late.  I have a mother who will promise her grandchildren one thing, and then do completely the opposite. 

There are times, when I want, sometimes desperately, to rise above my petty resentment, to get over what is passed, and just start over.  When not having a mother in my life creates a feeling of actual sadness.  When I consider those who have lost their mothers permanently, and think, "you ungrateful brat." 

Sometimes I literally want to shake her, shake the "phony" out of her.  Shake out of her the piece of her that gives such a shit what other people think of her, her hair, her skin, her weight, her goddamn fingernails, and find out if there is actual substance there. 

Shake her, until the part of her that skips family reunions because she's "too fat" comes rolling out of her, so I can stomp it to death. 

Shake her, until she accepts my unease about that she never asks me to reconsider again. 

Shake her, until she sees that being perpetually late is disrespectful, and that breaking every single promise is even more damaging. 

Even shake her until that goddamn baby-talk, phony telephone operator voice of hers is gone forever.  Just talk to me.  Just talk to my kids.  We're mature enough to handle your real voice, and don't need such feigned politeness. 

Shake her.  And shake her, and shake her.  Until nothing is left, but...a mother.  A grandmother.  A mature woman who has had some fifty years to learn her way around herself, and has come to a conclusion that she is as worthy as the next woman.  And that others are as worthy as she.  An equal balance of self-esteem, and respect for those around her. 

I know that if I invite her over today, one of two things will happen.  She'll be delighted, she'll keep me on the phone for two hours, she'll say she's coming, and then she will call and cancel after I wait on her all afternoon.  And I will wonder why in the hell I invited her over in the first place. 
Or, she will show up, talk incessantly about her fatness, make awkward comments, (in her baby voice) about my parenting, my person, my husband, and I will not be able to push her out the door fast enough.  And I will wonder why in the hell I invited her over in the first place. 

Why is it so hard to just be with her?  Why is it so hard for her to just be with me? 
And why, after 33 years of trying and trying and trying, do I still care?  I have a fantastic family of my own.  I have amazing friends.  Besides the millions of dollars I seem to have misplaced, I am blissfully content.  So why on earth do I give such a fuck about one, selfish, neurotic person? 

I suppose the only simple answer is, "she's my mother." 

Fucking soap.  Fucking thoughtful soap.      

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