Posted by: bourbonmama | 18/08/2009

A few days ago, my friend, Yo, wrote a post about excuses.  I was going to put this in an email, but figured it was a little long, so I turned into a post. 


A couple days before, this happened.

“Are you mad at me, or something?  You’ve been real cold the past week.” 

“Ya know what, mom?  Yeah, I am mad at you.”  It felt good to say it.  We have never been able to tell her how we feel.  It might hurt her feelings.  I had recently decided that I didn’t care about her feelings, she had never considered mine.  She just looked at me, dumbfounded.  She had expected me, wanted me, to say, no, that everything was fine.

“What did I do?”  I had to tread lightly.  She was newly sober, a couple of months.  The longest she’d been sober in at least 20 years, maybe more.  I couldn’t just tell her she was a heartless bitch.  That she’d never been there for us.  That she owed me an apology.  We’d spent all day together.  Went shopping, walked around Hobby Lobby, went to lunch.  Nate was sleeping in his carseat behind me.  I could hear his deep intakes of air, evey few seconds, he’d suck on his paci. 

“You don’t have any right to get hurt.  By what I say.  And what I said wasn’t even that bad, Mom.  You have no right to make me feel guilty, when you haven’t even begun to apologize to me, to us.”  She just stared at me.  I could see her blank face in my peripheral vision.  I kept my eyes on the road ahead of me, not daring to glance in her direction.  Not daring to loose my nerve.  I just waited, patiently for her to answer me.  To say something.

“What do you want me to apologize for?”

“Are you fuckin’ kidding me?  Mom, I’m not gonna tell you what to apologize for.  That would be pointless.”  She was silent.  I realized that I was going to have to do most of the work for this one.  She started playing with the lighter in her hand.  I was making her nervous.  She hadn’t expected to have to answer to me this soon.  “OK,” I said, weighing out words in my head.  I had to make my point without pissing her off.  Which was hard, because I was royally pissed by now.  “You’ve hurt me.  You’ve said mean things to me before and I’ve never gotten an apology for any of it.  You hurt my feeling when you called me a whore at fifteen.  You hurt my feelings when you thought seven o’clock was too early to get up and be with me in the delivery room.  You hurt my feeling when you told me you were my mother and not my friend.  You hurt my feelings when you chose to sit up drinking every night and sleeping all day instead of taking care of us.  Instead of being our mother.”

There was a long pause.  The silence was deafening.  I’d heard that phrase before, but never fully understood it.  I tried to concentrate on the cars, the road, anything but the tension.  If nothing else, at least I was able to finally say these things.  “How am I supposed to apologize for something I don’t remember?”

Now it was my turn to stare at her dumbfounded.  Seriously?  Really?  That’s how this is going to work?  Really?  I couldn’t find any words.  A car honked behind me and I noticed the light had turned green.  I turned on to her street.  “Ya know, Mary, I never got an apology.  Years after your father and I got married, I asked my mom if she thought it was OK, what he’d done to us.  If she thought we deserved it, and all she said was no.  She never tried to stop him from hitting us.  She never said a thing.  After a while I decided to just let it go and say ‘they did the best they could with what they had.'”

It always comes back to her, and how bad it was for her, and how we should be thankful it wasn’t that bad for us.  Nothing was is ever her fault.  There’s always a reason an excuse.  And, at least she was better than him.  She said I could come in and keep talking, “No, I’m not getting him out while he’s sleeping.  And I think we’re done talking anyway.”  She got out of my car, and I watched her walk in the house.  I turned off her street, pulled over to the side of the road ands cried.  I was so tired of the excuses.  I was tired of it all being about her.  I wanted her to realize that she wasn’t the only victim.  And that just because she was a victim, there was no excuse for giving up.  For ignoring her resposibilities as a mother.  I’m still waiting for that apology.



  1. ugh. geez. TOTALLY. i totally get it. the tiptoes, the eggshells. not wanting to hurt their feelings because they wobble on a precarious line. it’s always about my sister, always about her. any time i bring anything up, it’s about her, her past, her problems, excuses. and then i forget what i was talking about in the first place.

    it sucks. i know how you feel.

  2. Man, I hate that stuff. Been there, I hate it. Never been able to reconcile that.

  3. I’m sorry. Does your mom go to meetings or is she in any kind of therapy?

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