divorce

A Conversation With My Mother

8:23 AM Saturday

(the phone rings; I know who it is)

LK: Hello Mother

Mother: Well, three cheers for caller ID!

LK: Nope, I knew it was you.

Mother: How?

LK: The phone started weeping.

Mother: Oh my, my! Now, that’s cute AND funny. Score one for my youngest daughter.

LK: How are you?

Mother: Concerned.

LK: About what?

Mother: You, mostly.

LK: And to what do I owe this maternal display?

Mother: You’ve got a birthday coming up soon and I’m a little worried about your current situation.

LK: Mother, I’m fine. You have nothing to worry about.

Mother: But you’re not working!

LK: Yes I am. I’ve got about three separate and very steady free lance writing gigs!

Mother: Those aren’t real jobs.

LK: Mother, they are real jobs and they pay me well. Your problem is that you don’t understand the concept of freelance. Just because you don’t understand what I do, does not negate the legitimacy of what I do.

Mother: You work from home; you have no interaction with co-workers, no benefits and I know for a fact there are time when you work wearing a T-shirt with no bra and shorts.

LK: That’s on a good day!

Mother: That shows you have no self-respect.

LK: But I’M WORKING IN THE PRIVACY OF MY OWN HOME!!!!!!!!!

Mother: That doesn’t matter. You should live graciously. I bet you eat straight off the stove.

LK: When I cook, yeah..I do, sometimes.

Mother:    That’s absolutely barbaric. And I bet when you order out or have something delivered you probably eat on your bed or on the sofa in front of the TV?

LK: Yep.

Mother: Well, I don’t. I prepare myself three square meals a day and when I eat, I sit down at the dining room table and I use my good china and a linen place mat and napkin. After I walked out on that sperm donor I call your father….

LK: He left you.

Mother: That’s always been just  a rumor. Anyway, when I left him, and again….when I did,  I made a vow that single life wouldn’t prevent me from living a good life. You should do the same.

LK: Our lives are completely different, Mother.

Mother: Yes–in that I have one and you don’t!

LK: Funny, but I see that in reverse. At least I’m trying to do something with my life.

Mother: I resent that.

LK: And I resent that you’re implying that I’m a lesser human because I do  things differently. .

Mother: But well, itscobvious in some ways you’re obviously not happy.

LK: No I’m not! I don’t even know where you’re getting this. I’m perfectly okay.  I just don’t live conventionally–but that’s according to you….

Mother:   You just said okay.    Not happy and  that’s what concerns me. You’re going to be ____ years old. And you’re not married and…

LK: And Mother, do not finish that sentence.

Mother: Yes I will. I WILL finish this sentence and many others before we end this conversation. You have to face certain realities, Laurie. Thirty years ago you’d either be considered a closeted lesbian or an old maid. Both if you lived in New York.

LK:  What?   Why New York?

Mother:  Don’t  interrupt.   You’re not as young as you used to be. In fact, the odds are stacked against you. As it is, I read recently  that a woman like stands a better chance of being strangled by red-headed Lithuanian terrorists at a Latvian tampon factory on. Thursday afternoon during a hail storm as opposed to  than finding a suitable companion, much less a man to marry.

LK: That sounds oddly specific.

Mother: Well, it’s true. And I’m getting older too and I’d like to exit this earthly plane knowing you’re fine and will be in good hands after I’m gone.

LK: I am fine, Mother.   I’ve bought a car, a house…I’ve even travelled to that  opinionated, anti-single woman place called New York you speak of.   And I’ve been there alone…many times.

Mother:   You just answered you’re own question.    You went there alone.    Look, just aim higher.  Get  a real job with  an office and a security badge and benefits.

(I frantically shove a bite sized mini-Baby Ruth in my mouth.    A minor substitute with no-Xanax in the house)

LK: (chewing) Again, I’m fine. I don’t want to work ( swallow) in a corporate environment any more. The thought of doing a nine-five gig on some nondescript floor of some nondescript hi-rise downtown makes me ill. And I’m making money.

Mother: But it can’t be that much. And what progress are you making?

LK: Progress? I’m making great progress. Important people are seeing a different side of me. I’m making headway in the area of writing. I’m getting published. That’s what I want to do with my life. I want to be a writer, Mother.

Mother: But that’s not a real profession!

LK: What are you talking about? You read books all the time and magazines, too. You watch sitcoms and TV news…the content of each of those books…the magazines and those shows you love so much are ALL the handiwork of writers, Mother.

Mother:   Well, I don’t see your name on any closing credits.

(I’m seething by now and trying to maintain control without shouting, “There’s a rest home in your future!!!”)

I take a deep breath.

LK: So?

Mother:     Make me feel better by making an income with  a real job.

LK: I should make you feel better? That’s what I live for, Mom. And if I were to do that…for you…what kind of job would you recommend?

Mother: Any old job.

LK: You, of all people, are telling me to get any old job? Then, would a fast food gig be good enough? You wouldn’t care if I worked at a McDonald’s?

Mother: Just as long as you were the manager.

LK: That’s just so typical. I’d have to be the manager, wouldn’t I? I couldn’t just be a shift worker. God forbid! How would that look to your friends?   How could you justify being the Mother of a fast food worker?

Mother: We’re not talking about me.

LK: Aren’t we? You’re actually quite proud of me and who I am. You know it’s true. You loved it when I was on TV and radio. You also love that I’m a writer. An award winning writer, too.    That bothers you too..  thatvIm damn good at.    Butbyourvoridecfir me only exists when you convey it’s to your friends. But somehow all of that gets lost when it comes to telling me anything to mynface. You can’t tell me you’re proud of me. You couldn’t if you tried.   Instead , you have some distorted need to let me know that you don’t think I’m quite good enough…for anything.

Mother: I never wanted you to get a big hard.   Besides, it’s called humility, Laurie. Something I’ve always stressed with you.

LK: No, its called being a torpedo parent and THAT’s about the ONLY thing you’ve ever been consistent with and that’s  a form of control and it’s all you’ve got left. My sisters and I are three adult women that you can no longer manipulate. So, you’re relegated to ego-punches. That’s all you’ve got left in your arsenal.

Mother: We’re not talking about me and quit trying to blame your inadequacies on everyone else. You’re accountable for your own happiness.

LK: And that would be accurate if I was unhappy. I’m not but you can’t seem to get that through your head. Who are you trying to convince here- me or you?

Mother: I have nothing to do with this. I’m merely holding up a mirror of truth to your face.

LK: We’ve always had different versions of “the truth”, Mother.

Mother: Yes, in that I’ve always known it and you haven’t.

LK: If I’m good at denial Mother, I learned it from you.

Mother: That is such a lie!! I have NEVER denied anything in my life. I just choose to ignore certain things. That makes life easier. Like when I divorced that cheating bastard I call your father….

LK: He divorced you.

Mother: No, I divorced him. The court got it wrong.

LK: Why do you talk about him like that to me?

Mother: I speak the truth.

LK: But he’s still my father. I’m half him.  You diminish me as a person by saying those things about him.

Mother: No I don’t and that’s that psycho nonsense from that crazy old TV coot, Dr. Bill…

LK: Dr. Phil

Mother: Whatever and don’t you defend your father, either. Have you forgotten that he walked on you when he walked on me?

LK:  I’m aware of his departure from my life everyday.   But that was 40 years ago, That’s almost half of my life.  .    You make me crazy, Mother!!

Mother: And you make me tired.

LK: OK, enough about Daddy.

Mother: I should say so.   Anyway,  I still think you should try to get out of that tiny and probably filthy apartment and get a job that requires getting out.  You need the interaction. I know what’s right for you. I always have and you never have.

LK: You don’t know me at all, do you?

Mother: I know you perfectly well. And you’re a…..

  • LK: No, you don’t know me. You’ve never known me. I want to write…I need to write. If you knew me you’d know my need to explore the many facets of my creative side and you’d support instead of putting me down because God forbid I should ever be better than you at anything, but I am and that kills you.

Mother: Now you wait one minute, Missy. I ‘m creative. I decorated a six bedroom home.

LK: That’s not the same thing. Besides, if you really knew me, you’d know how much you hurt me with the things you say to me. You’d know how much conversations like this take a chunk out of my soul.

Mother: I tell you these things for your on good. And one more thing, your insolence hurts me.

LK: My insolence?

Mother: You’re insolence. And you’re ungrateful.

LK: Why couldn’t I have been an orphan?

Mother: I can arrange it.

LK: ENOUGH!!! Stop it….Now!

For a few seconds, we say nothing, caught up in the deafening silence of recoil.

LK: Look Mother, I don’t want to fight.

Mother: Who’s fighting?

LK: We are.

Mother: I don’t see it as fighting. I’m just trying to give you motherly advice.

LK:  Then we will most definitely have huge fight if you continue “advising” me, alright? My life is different from yours. You’re lucky. Very lucky. You live a very comfortable life. You don’t have to work. You’ve never have had to work, but I do. I’m tired of broadcasting and as I continue to evolve, so do my hopes and dreams and desires. And right now, I want and need to try my hand at something different.

Mother: But it’s awfully late in the game for a single woman to be trying “something different”. Is that a gamble a woman like you should to take?

LK: What do you mean by “a woman like me”?

Mother: Well, you’re not getting any younger, either and frankly, you’re losing your looks.

LK: What?

Mother: I agree there’s nothing wrong with brings self-sufficient, but at what price? There’s no honor in being 60 and single or 40 and single for that matter.   And in your case, you’ve never married. You need to be married. You need to get your life in order.

LK: For one thing, marriage will not get my life in order. You should know. You’re divorced.

Mother: We’re not talking about me.

LK: This is exasperating, Mother! You’re  exasperating! My life is fine. My life is—–(I don’t complete the sentence. I’m getting very angry, something that happens a lot when I talk to my mother. But I try a different tack this time. I take a deep breath .  In doing so, I allow myself to regain composure) OK, if you want me to be self-sufficient and you think my trying to be a writer at this stage of my life is silly then you could eliminate that pesky working part and just give me my inheritance now.

Mother: (silence)

(Mercifully, The Sound of “Call Waiting” beep can be heard on both lines)

LK: Well, Mother, someone is calling in..

Mother: And I’m still mulling over that orphan crack. You really need to think long and hard about what you said. You should apologize with some flowers. You know I’m getting up there and won’t be around much longer.

LK: Can I get that in writing?

Mother: That can also be arranged.

LK: I have to go, Mother.

Mother: Have you talked to you sisters lately? What was that story you were writing for that magazine?

(She won’t hang up. She actually wants to talk!!!  What to do? What to do? “Call Waiting” clicks again)

LK: Mother I have to go (I think fast) It’s uh…it’s…uh….it’s Daddy calling.

Mother: Good lord, what does he want!!! Then I definitely want off the line. Besides, I need to go to my lawyer’s officer.

LK: For what.

Mother: After this conversation, I’m amending my will.

LK: You do that, Mom. And later on, I’ll be calling Information to get a particular phone number.

Mother: Whose?

LK: Dr. Kervorkian’s

Mother:    Very funny.   Give that worthless son of a bitch I call your father, my deepest indifference.

LK: Already done. Goodbye mother.

Mother: Think about what I said, Laurie. I mean it. Listen to me. Remember, I’m your mother.

As if I could ever forget THAT detail.

I hang up and once the line is clear, the phone rings immediately. It’s not my father. We haven’t spoken in years. I don’t recognize the number calling in, but it doesn’t matter. It mercifully got me off the phone with my mother.

LK: Hello?

Phone Solicitor: Hello, Miss Kendrick? I’m assuming it’s Miss Kendrick based on the fact that I have no information indicating you are married or…..

I say nothing and just hang up on the guy in mid-sentence. That was the last thing I needed to hear.

I sit there for a few minutes; a million thoughts swirl in my head.

I then pick up the phone and start dialing a number I know so very, very well.

First ring….

Second ring…

LK: Hi Cindy.   Laurie Kendrick here.     Does Dr. Brandson have any time to  possibly squeeze me in for an emergency session today?  ,I’m really feeling the need to talk.    I…I just really need my shrink.

Cindy:   What happened?

LK: My mother called me.

Cindy:  Oh my!    Well, in that case, can you be here in ten minutes?

 

 

 

 

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