Dissonant Love

Oh, my daughter. It hurts to see you all alone, pottering around that big empty house filled with photos of happier times–posing with your husband, may he rest in peace, or with your children, who have long since moved out with families of their own.

As a mother, my heart aches for you. I know the loneliness that comes deep in the night, when you reach out for that warm body next to you, only to find cold sheets; or the loneliness that strikes during the day, when you turn to ask a question of someone that isn’t there.

I may not be able to replace them, but now I’ve moved in with you, I can help make your life easier. While you’re at work, I can clean the house, do the laundry, prepare dinner and the next day’s lunch. I’ll even give you a massage when you come back sore and exhausted.

And, perhaps by doing so, I can make up for the past, when I neglected you for my own life–my desires, friends and priorities. I can reclaim those lost years and wipe away the distance I still feel between us. I can be an important part of your life, and we can grow old together so neither of us are left alone.

So, why do you speak so angrily to me when I give you your lunch, or ask you how your day was? Why do you roll your eyes each time you see me, as though I were a burden on you? I don’t expect thanks, but even civility would be nice. Because can’t you see, we need each other?

I am a grown woman. I’ve experienced joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. I’ve raised a family and sent them out into the world. But now, with you here, my dear mother, I feel as though I’m a child again.

You insist on doing everything for me, and doing it your way. If I do it myself, it’s not good enough–you’ll step in and take over, or do it again. Yet you don’t do the same for my sisters; what is it about me that you find lacking? Why are they competent enough to be left alone, while I am not?

I’ve done my best by you–given you a home, so you won’t have to live in a retirement village far from family. I drive you wherever you ask and take you out to dinner each week. I grit my teeth when you boast to others about what a good mother you are, and let you accept all the praise you’ve never deserved.

So, why do you try to control every aspect of my life? Why must you put yourself up on a pedestal of your own making, at my expense? I’m doing everything a dutiful daughter should, and out of love, putting up with more besides. Because can’t you see, I’m doing fine on my own?

This is the third story from flash fiction week II. Tomorrow: Kit Fox.

Leanne Yong is an aspiring author who is working on a young adult novel with a kick-ass heroine. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and random musings on writing.


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