February 27th, 2008

Mom Update

I have gotten numerous inquiries about how the unexpected visit with Mom was handled on Monday. I finally have a little time to myself, so I want to take a few minutes to tell you about it.

Mom’s plane landed at LAX at 8:50am. I seriously had to get some things handled for the day before ditching work, so I got in at 7am. This is the earliest my badge will let me into the building, and then I left a little after 9 with the intentions of getting to the airport by our pre-arranged meeting time of 10am.

I had decided to tell my client the truth about how my Mom was unexpectedly in town, but I reconsidered that morning on the drive in and faked a migraine instead.

I appreciate all the advice about setting boundaries. For me, behaving in such a mean way, whether she deserved it or not, is beyond the boundaries I set for myself long ago in regards to how I feel people should be treated. Of course I was going to meet her. For me, it was never really an option to do otherwise.

After work and traffic, I arrived at the Delta terminal around 10:30am and inquired as to where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do. Without hesitation, she requested we head to our old house in Brea. I typed ‘1308 West Southridge Drive’ in my GPS navigator and off we went.

As an adult, I visited the house one other time about 4 years ago. On a visit to LA just before moving here, I ditched my departing flight back to Atlanta to rent a white Mustang convertible for a week instead. I extended my trip in Southern California for the purpose of taking a leisurely drive through my childhood.

Growing up for me consisted of two distinct chapters. My early childhood in Brea was as story book perfect as my adolescence in Atlanta was challenging and wrought with danger. In many ways, Mom and I share this story. The time she was living in Brea, happily married to my Dad, and raising her 2 little kids, was the happiest time in her life. It was perfect for me also, and we share many of the same memories of that time in our lives.

We began the day standing on Southridge Drive, a place we hadn’t been together in 20 years, remembering a time we both dearly cherish in our lives. I have only one period in my life that could possibly top those years, and she ranks it as her best time ever.

Suddenly the past 20 or so years were gone and she liked me again. She was no longer angry at me for no longer being 5 years old. I was the grown up me, standing in Brea, and somehow that made it all ok for her. She expressed to me how great it was to see me, she complimented my clothes and my new haircut, and she smiled all day long.


The last time I saw her more than a year ago, she constantly expressed her usual dissatisfaction with everything about me. Naturally, I had been in no hurry to share the same part of the country with her anytime in the next century. I set hard boundaries with her about a month into my freshmen year of college at 18 years old, and I haven’t seen much of her since.

And then Monday happened.

She liked me, she enjoyed my company, she complimented me, and she can’t wait to see me again.

Similar experiences with my Mom have happened 2 other times in my adult life, and neither one of them panned out to be anything. She ended up hating me just as much after whatever she was going through had resolved itself. Still, this girl with no grandparents, no aunts or uncles, no kids, no husband, and no Daddy would love to feel like she had family again. Yet at the same time I realize the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result.

Still… she is passing through LA again on her way home Friday night with a 3 hour layover at LAX, and I have accepted her invitation for dinner.

If my worst character trait is refusing to give up on the people in my life, I guess I can live with that. I am having dinner with my Mom Friday night, and I wish more than anything she truly liked me this much.
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