Breaking Up With Mom Is Hard to Do
I first met my husband’s parents six weeks into our relationship. It was Christmas. Our friends turned into the trees along the road to get to a warmly lit home with two people waiting on the porch for their son. I stalled around the trunk of the rental car with sweaty hands before walking up to the front steps and introducing myself. That night, Martin helped place string lights on a bowing tree his father brought in from the outside and we all sat in the family room as the string lights changed colors. I stayed for a few days, feeling awkward, but welcomed in a way I hadn’t yet experienced.
We did the New York Times crossword all together and ate meals at the table. There were paintings in stacks against walls and tiny sculpted figures from Martin’s dabbling in sculpture. Martin’s mom spoke to me about books and Roxane Gay and school and Martin’s father watched Cube with us until he fell asleep in his armchair.
They all spoke kindly to each other. They talked about memories without pain. Martin’s parents knew about his hopes and dreams and passions.
On the train ride home, I ached. And for weeks after, I grieved a childhood I never had.
My mom didn’t meet my husband until we’d been married for six months. It was Thanksgiving. My family came to Rhode Island to stay with us for five days. I was having a pain flare at that time, so each person took turns visiting me as I laid in my bed with the door open.
“It’s hard to be at home. No one talks to me there.”
My mom was laying on her side on the end of my bed, telling me about how tired she was of her boyfriend, a emotionally unavailable personal trainer. She tends to go for men who are muscled and young and who try her patience when she naturally has so little. But she didn’t want to go back to our apartment in the Bronx, so she felt stuck playing mom to his kids.
“I know,” I could hear Martin and my sister’s boyfriend laughing in my living room while I tried to pick my words carefully, “But I think you could start to address stuff at home if you went to therapy. You know she needs you to do that so she can feel safe having a relationship with you.”