When my parents married again, I was just about to graduate college. I remember going to my last semester class, and then immediately rushing across the city to meet my mother at the bridal shop. It was weird to be a part of this experience, considering the first time they got married, I wasn’t even born yet. My dad would tell me stories about how my mom was so upset the dress she wanted to wear didn’t fit her because she was pregnant with me. I can only assume he reassured her and called her beautiful; I mean, she was, now looking at those pictures displayed in my parent’s house. My mother was definitely nervous about getting married that year. I would spend my nights studying for my exams and hear her talk on the phone, expressing her worries to her friends. Thinking back now, I can understand her nervousness having been in her place once before. But, my mother was lucky; she had my dad be the man she was going to marry and if I knew anything about my dad, it’s that he never stopped loving my mom, even after the first divorce. If only I can be so lucky to find a man that would never stop loving me, no matter the fuck-ups I make in life.
I look at all of the pictures on the wall my mom has traveled to in her younger years; Paris, Italy, Switzerland, and other places I couldn’t even recognize. My mom displays her most prestigious awards in a glass cabinet in the living room where all of these pictures are in. They look expensive, and they look heavy. Any awards I had when I was a teenager are now sitting in a box in storage, in my parent’s basement. Maybe when I settle into a new place in the future, I’ll be like my mom and display those awards.
My mom walks into the living room with some coffee for the both of us. I walk over to the sofa and sit next to her, sipping the coffee she had made.
“It’s definitely getting colder these days,” mom said. I looked at her, not saying anything back. My mom had a way of trying to fill in the silence with things that didn’t really matter, like the weather. I knew she wanted me to talk about what happened, or the audition; whichever one I decide to talk about first.
“Yeah, it is,” I said and placed the mug back on the coffee table. “Thank you for letting me say here with your and dad while I’m in New York.” My mom flashed a tight smile, looking at me with the look that she needed me to speak more.
“You know you are always welcomed here,” mom started to say before immediately getting straight to the point. “I can’t say for other people in your life.” It made me laugh; I seriously picked up my sass from this woman.
“Yeah, I never thought Ari would be one of those that didn’t,” I said, a little sad at the fact. “Like, it sucks when your best friend really isn’t your best friend, y’know? I thought Ari knew me.”
“She did know you. Ari came around during the time when you were a lawyer, dating Max, and pregnant with Willow. She knew who you were; it doesn’t sound like she knew who you are now and some people can’t take that.” mom said as she adjusted on the sofa. I wasn’t convinced.
“But Ari was in my life when everything changed, mom.”
“But from my understanding, that’s when you and Ari began to have issues in your friendship,” mom pointed out. “I had a friend like Ari once. Her name was Ronnie; we knew each other since middle school and we were inseparable for most of high school as well. When I started dating your dad during college, she just had problems with every little thing I did, especially when it came to my dance career. She pretty much told me I was a shitty person for putting my dreams before my relationship with your dad. Once I had you, she was literally the worst; called me a shitty mother during a fight we had before I left New York. Told me I shouldn’t have had kids if I was just going to up and leave anyway,” my mom paused before she continued. I could tell that even after all these years, that friendship hurt her the most. I worry my friendship with Ari will hurt me just as much as hers did when I get older.
“That’s what Ari said,” I admitted. “Ari called me a shitty mother for leaving Willow behind if I went for this audition.” None of us said anything after that, but something was eating me inside and I needed to know. “Do you also think I’m a shitty mom for leaving Willow?”
My mom look perplexed, if anything. I was nervous thinking that maybe Ari was right. My mom took a deep breath before answering.
“I can’t judge anyone on how they raise their children because I couldn’t raise my own,” mom admitted. “I can only judge the way I did things and at 30, I wasn’t thinking about me as a mom. I blocked that from my mind as hard as I could. I did block it from my mind.” My mom was an honest woman, even when she said things that would hurt. I know it was in the past, but sometimes my mother seems to forget that her leaving when I was baby still fucks with my head, yet she talks about it as if everything is healed because things are good with our family. I appreciated her honesty, but I sometimes wish she was more cautious on the things that were sensitive. She looked at me to see if I was still listening to her speak. I was, so she continued to say what was on her mind. “You are doing more than I ever did, and that counts for something.”
“Why does it never feel like that though?” I asked. “Why does it feel like I’m a shitty mother, and why does it feel like a fucking chore to be a mother when it’s time to be a mother? I love Willow with every piece of me, but–“
“Then that’s it,” mom interrupted. “You still show up and be her mom because you love her. That doesn’t make you a shitty mom and surely a woman who doesn’t have kids of her own can say anything about anyone else’s children.” I looked at my mom, who I used to call by her first name up until I was 22, when my parents got married. I wonder if she loved me when I was younger and if she did, would it mean that she would’ve stayed? I love Willow, but I didn’t stay.
I took a deep breath and decided to change the subject. “I’m just glad the audition finally happened. I swear I couldn’t even sleep well the nights leading up to it.” My mom smiled, which was a relief to finally get out of sensitive territory.
“How was it though?” mom asked as she sipped her coffee.
“It was intense, to say the least,” I answered. My mom laughed before she responded.
“Well, these are dancers that were scouted for this audition. They are the nest of the best. I was also really nervous when I went for the audition when I was younger. You come across the best of the best in these auditions.” My mom adjusted her body more towards me on the sofa; I can tell she really was interested in what I had to say about the audition. “When do you find out if you got out through or not?”
“I think they said two weeks,” I answered. leaning back on the sofa.
“Oh wow, just in time for your birthday, huh?” my mom teased. I rolled my eyes at her as she laughed. These were the moments that I enjoyed having with my mother. “I think you’re going to get it if Morgan’s right about your dancing.” I nodded, thinking back at my time in Morgan’s dance studio. I was definitely in my element every time I would clock out of work and head straight to the studio. I remember the feeling back when I was younger, just dancing in the studio after school without a care in the world, and when my only concern is what outfit I want to wear to what competition. Dancing again has reminded me just how much it’s become somewhat like therapy for me.
“We’ll see. It’ll be nice though.” I answered. My mom smiled at me and continued to sip her coffee. Simplicity in complicated creatures, just like my mom and I.