Saturday, August 20, 2016

Your Mother, Your Biggest Fan

"Trina, can you please move your stuff off the kitchen table?"
Without moving her eyes from the television screen where Spongebob is playing, Trina mutters in response to her mother, "In a minute."
Her mother Roxanne takes a deep breath, telling herself, Calm down.  Simultaneously, a little voice in the back of her mind whispers, Your daughter never listens to you.  She doesn't care what you have to say.  Roxanne wills the voice to shut up, telling herself it's nonsense.  Trina loves her and respects her.  Trina might be lazy and defiant at times, but aren't all kids at this age?  She'll ultimately get up and do what she needs to do.
"I need you to do it now, Trina," Roxanne responds, making sure to keep a friendly tone in her voice. She watches Trina's back, ready for any semblance of body language.
This time, Trina turns away from the TV, rolling her eyes.  "Mom, I'm busy.  I'll do it later!" she whines, face contorting into the mold of the ungrateful brat we all are at one point or another in childhood.
Here, Roxanne thinks to herself, Trina is being insufferable, but I remember wanting to talk back at that age.  It's annoying and must be dealt with, but it's nothing out of the ordinary.  I'm her mother and I need to show her the proper way to behave.  Logical thoughts for a mother to have.  Responsible, lucid, perceptive thoughts.  If only that were really what happened.
Instead, Roxanne allows the crazy little voice to seep in: Trina thinks you're pathetic.  Trina is never going to respect you.  Trina makes fun of you when you turn your back, talks about you badly to her friends.  Trina just doesn't care.
Roxanne stares at Trina, stares at her smug little face, and something in her snaps.  "GET UP NOW AND CLEAN UP YOUR STUFF!" she roars.  Trina's mouth drops open and her eyes bulge; she is frozen to her spot on the carpet, confused and unsure of what to do.
Roxanne whirls around and makes a beeline for the table with the aforementioned "stuff."  She begins to knock it off the table one item at a time; notebooks with Trina's doodles go flying across the kitchen floor, Trina's schoolbooks crash to the tiles with a startling smack, her pencils spiral through the air like arrows.
Trina timidly creeps in the room, picking up as much at a time as she can and darting up to her bedroom.  Once she's alone in the bedroom she frantically begins hiding everything under the bed, convinced this will trick Roxanne into thinking it's all clean.
Roxanne bounds up the stairs after Trina, shouting, "I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOUR STUFF PILE UP LIKE THAT AGAIN.  TOMORROW WHILE I'M AT WORK YOU BETTER ORGANIZE EVERYTHING IN HERE."  She finally becomes visible upon entering Trina's bedroom, hurling a mass of notebooks and T-shirts in Trina's general direction.
All the while, Trina thinks to herself, "What the actual fuck?"

"You need to clean up more around the house; you don't do ANYTHING to help me!"
"You got a C on this test?! How are you going to graduate?!  You'll never get into college with grades like this!"
"Why aren't you eating?  Do you have an eating disorder?"

Fast forward years into the future; Trina has grown up with a wacky mother.  A mother whose passions always seem to be bubbling right at the surface, ready to explode and take down everything in its vicinity.  Trina has heard wild accusations and surreal projections into the future by Roxanne, and has become jaded to the mania, the hysteria, the everyday panic.  She's become accustomed to it, tolerant of it, even accepting, for one reason alone: Roxanne is her biggest fan.
Yes, Roxanne may be a little out of sync with reality at times, a little too quick to fly off the handle, but the funny thing about that passion is that it can also mean something wonderful.
"Good news guys, I got hired at Applebees!  I'm going to be making minimum wage, a working girl," Trina boasts a few weeks after her seventeenth birthday, when her father told her she better find a job if she didn't want to spend the entire summer weeding the backyard.
"Well it's about time," her dad quips, smiling at her with a quiet pride.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Roxanne's eyes are so alight they look like they might catch on fire.  "What?!  You got the job?! Honey, that's fantastic!! When do you start?!" she blurts, bouncing up and down on her heels and clapping her hands in delight.  Trina's father raises an eyebrow.
Trina cocks her head to the side, studying her mother.  It hits her that this woman is genuinely that happy for her.  She genuinely loves her that much; she genuinely believes she has that much potential.  At a minimum wage job.
"I knew you could do it," Roxanne gushes, shaking her head and grinning.  "You can do anything, sweetie.  You're amazing.  We need to celebrate!  Where do you want to go out to dinner?"
For God's sake, it's a starting position at a freaking restaurant, Trina's father's expression says to Trina, which makes her smile inwardly.
It's true, no one should ever be that excited about a minimum wage job at a local restaurant for a high school kid, but it's sort of amazing to Trina that her mother is.  While Roxanne flings books across the room when she's overwhelmed and cries when she thinks that no one takes care of the house besides her, she also puts aside extra money out of her paycheck so Trina can buy new clothes.  She also stays up late with Trina to help her with her math homework, encouraging her to persist when she feels she'll never get it right.
She may get upset too much, overwhelmed too much, offended and hurt too much, but she also loves too much, cares too much, and celebrates too much, which are just the right things to practice in excess.

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