Written by Petra Leone

am I supposed to love the fury out of her? Or, am I supposed to take care of my own insides first?

“Motherworld,” read by Petra Leone
Maybe Mom needed me to face her as I was not facing her but facing Aunt who connects in a way that doesn’t fool or cajole or cut off with a blunt remark just when things are getting cozy, and if she does I probably wouldn’t notice as she’s not Mom. Mom, whose every word, every breath breathed the wrong way, too long, too shallow, too hard, through the nose like she’s huffing – is she angry with me? Every particle of her noticed by her offspring, taken in and digested or undigested and spit out and examined like the entrails of a dead thing from which we hope to devine the mysteries of the universe. 
Mom, who has feet deformed from wearing shoes too small from growing up in a place where there were no shoes, or no money for shoes, I can’t recall. And whose own mother, too, could only form thin connections perhaps worn down by war -- a bomb that almost killed them all, followed by a housefire? I can’t recall. ‘You were there,’ my mother says ‘did you know that you were there as an egg inside of me?’ She talks like a child sometimes and I cannot connect with her as the child because my healed anger won’t let me play the mother to my mother anymore. 
What fools me most are those brief moments, as two adult women living in the present, having a cup of tea, reminiscing about Grandma and her 13 cats roaming the barn, living under the porch, the select few allowed into the house to leave fur everywhere for us children to blow into beams of dusty sunlight and scrape off our tongues when it was baked into Grandma’s cookies. Those fat, spoiled American cats she took care of, we laugh, and I think for a moment Mom means me. But no, we’re still connected. It’s in her eyes. Until it’s not. What’s incredible is that I never ever see it coming, not even after all the years of talk therapy and EMDR, and learning Reiki and self-compassion meditation and energy medicine. Even after all these years, even knowing all the reasons why she is the way she is.
The change in Mom is as impossible to predict as exploding lake floors in the Arctic that mystify scientists who suspect, suggest ever so rationally, that it may or may not have to do with global warming. But, also, could be a natural phenomenon they never noticed until there was equipment to measure things like lake bottoms exploding and being reported on a BBC or PBS special? I can’t recall. If they made a documentary about mothers it would feature four women around a dining room table. Me opposite Aunt, Mom to my right and on my left Daughter, my sweet teen, so precious she has no idea though hopefully she will someday know how loveable she is. I’m thinking how to protect Daughter, worried Mom might say something about her blue hair, or what she is or isn’t eating or put me down, saying what a snob I am because I prefer organic food. She does all of these. But I let it go. Instead, I’m thinking maybe I send Mom pink light, or is it white light? Or do I need to hold my aura close to my body and project love? Wait. I think I’m supposed to let Mom decide for herself whether or not to allow her aura to touch mine and feel the love in my energy body because her system, one healer or another suggested, overreacts to all outside stimuli, even the benevolent kind? I try to push down my confusion: am I supposed to love the fury out of her? Or, am I supposed to take care of my own insides first? Yes. That’s it. Breathe. Feet on floor. Perfectly formed feet in shoes that fit. 
Until Mom holds up the camera on her phone close to Darling Daughter’s face and I see my child’s mortification, so similar to my own childhood, and I say as gently as a kitten with a big, soft pink aura: “Mom?” That’s all it takes, a single syllable for Mom to make like those lake bottom limnic eruptions, jumping out of her seat so she’s face to face with me and screaming that I have no business telling her what to do as if she’s five and I’m her mother like she used to when I was five or three or one or sixteen and I’m suddenly all those ages. Meanwhile the lake bottom is as old as the universe, containing particles from when the earth was formed around 5 billion years ago, as I do, I remind myself, as I do, as we all do. I think about the light from above and my feet on the ever shifting earth below but I can’t feel anything because Mom’s force takes me and before I know it I’m on the ceiling, covered in muck from the lake bottom floor about to hurl more undigested bits from so long ago. I look to Aunt who, like the scientist she is, thrives on doubt, and refuses to take sides. 
I initially regret driving two hours each way for the visit to Mom, dragging Daughter along, all in the name of trying to connect the unconnectable, like putting the earth back into the hole in the lake bottom where the pressure’s just too great, built up over so many years -- 40 or 40 million? I can’t recall. Still, I try. Mom doesn’t call me to apologize. I phone her but not to apologize or for recognition because I wasn’t there even if the egg that held me was, and I did not rip her or anyone ever from a burning building. I call because yes, love, yes, need, still, after all these years, and because my whole life I’ve never had to wear shoes that were too small.

Check out this work in print in Serpentine Vol. 3

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