Who’s In Charge Here?
It ain't easy mothering Mama
I worry about my mama all the time. I realize the whole world is, at this moment, worrying about their mamas. Half are wondering if they took their blood pressure medicine; the other half are busy wondering if a telemarketer sold them a time-share in Florida. At least three of us are just wondering if our mamas unplugged the coffeepot.
One day a year—this month—we celebrate them, and if we're lucky enough to have them with us on this earth, we send flowers and take them to the buffet at the Western Sizzlin. The other 364 days, we worry that they'll trip over the dog. It is what the children talk about when we gather in secret to share our misery.
"Mama just won't do right," someone will sigh.
"Well, she's just headstrong, the dear," someone else will reply.
"Mm-hmm," everyone else will say, in chorus.
"Are you talkin' about me?" a mama will shout from across the house. They can't hear a lick when you ask them about their blood sugar, but whisper something about them and suddenly they have bat ears.
I have friends who say how strange it is to take care of their parents after all these years, for roles to reverse. They should live in my house.
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There is no role reversal, because that would require me to be mature and responsible. Instead, everyone here is running with scissors. I asked her, in good faith, if she was eating well.
"Yes," she lied.
"What are you eating?" I asked.
"A pineapple sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise," she replied.
"You've got to eat better," I said.
"Do you want one?" she asked.
"Sure," I answered.
She told me recently that her toe hurt. "Well," I said, "we have to take you to the toe doctor."
"Can't," she said.
"Why?" I asked.
"Don't like him," she said.
"Which one?" I asked.
"None of 'em," she said. I had no argument for this. So I told her that her toe would fall off, and when it did, she'd better not come crying to me.
When I do get her to an appointment, she loudly gives her opinion on doctors in general. She assigns them names. Her dermatologist, for instance, is Dr. Butcher.
And so we go. I try to get her to do right for a while, but I always give in eventually—I guess because doing right is still such a mystery to me. This past Mother's Day, I asked her what she wanted. "Some Red Diamond coffee," she requested. I gave her about 10 pounds of it, a can of crushed pineapple, and some pickled pig's feet. Someone has to be the grown-up around here.