My “real-mom”: a term used in my childhood that now makes me bristle. Yet, I still have not found a way to respectfully differentiate, with proper dignity, the two women in my life who both married my father (at separate times) and both parented me with highly individualized mentoring styles.
In the chapter “What Happened” of my new book, Drama Club, the mother who gave birth to me decides to let me know how the divorce between her and my father played out.
Here is an excerpt:
“She was unpredictable and intense, just like the monsoon rains that flooded the Tucson desert floor: sudden and powerful; unable to ignore; exotic to my Northwestern sensibilities; and absolutely necessary to the ecosystem. I had learned that the panic caused by her sudden lightning strikes and claps of thunder quickly dissipated. After that, I usually enjoyed her unbridled insights into the life of our family. I just needed to let the information pour over me like a warm deluge of Arizona rain.”
This photo shows us sitting on the sofa where the conversation happened. She had given me a perm and I was enjoying the summer heat, oblivious to fact that I was nearly naked.
How much is too much to share? Four hours there and four hours back. Just mom and me in the car, Omaha, Gothenburg, return. The basics covered and so much more – details of her life her gay son will never share with his nonexistent children, only his offspring of thought, written and launched into the social stream, attended to by nothing more than faith, not knowing where or really even why I’m sharing them. Her stories end, she quiets, and it becomes my turn. How much do I tell mom about my life? Was the talk of marrying my boyfriend too much? Our ideas on fidelity? Why gay men need a discussion group in West Hollywood? I know my politics rail against the notions shared by the right wing women who occupy her chair as she regularly rebuilds what is left of their hair in her private beauty shop. I think she is biting her tongue, uncomfortable with my upload. Then she reminds me that she would like to see more of me. That my gaps in communication make her worry. I know the absences pain her. Do I spend so much time out of this culture that I don’t know how to speak to her? Is this what all adult children go through or is it a gay thing? Oh if only I had the lives of my children to drone on about so we wouldn’t have to look at our relationship with each other! MikelGerle.com