Last night, I took three of my kids out to dinner.
Two of them are off at camp with their father. Whenever one (or some) of the kids gets to go do something fun and amazing that the rest of them don't get to do, whichever parent is left here with the remaining kids institutes "Super Happy Fun Day".
The ones left here tend to get spoiled.
They get to go do things we don't normally do.
They get to order the fancy bottled root beer.
They get their own pint of Ben and Jerry's.
They get to watch Deadpool.
I'm just going to stop anyone pissed about that last one right. here.
They're teenagers. They're my kids. I watched it long before I let either one of them see it. They aren't scarred for life. And for fuck's sake, could we all collectively just stop with the sanctimommy bullshit where we judge other moms for what they do with their kids???
Also, I know damned well that I can't be the only person in my generation who was raised watching Porky's and Robocop, right??? My childhood was rated R, and I turned out alright. I mean, I swear like a drunken sailor, but that could have happened anyway...
I'm snarky. I don't sleep well when my husband is not here because it's the dark ages and clearly I'm a delicate fucking flower who needs her big strong protector in order to sleep soundly.
I also completely hate that about myself, but we're working through it. And by we're I obviously mean me and the voice in my head that I talk to almost constantly.
That was a long diversion. Let's get to the actual story here that I was meaning to tell.
We were sitting at the restaurant last night, me, two teenagers and one inexplicably well behaved ordinarily belligerent toddler.
That part is important about the baby, because I wasn't required to focus every single ounce of my energy on making sure he didn't start screeching like a dying cat, as toddlers are oft to do.
I had this, too. So that helps.
So we are sitting there, throwing the occasional oyster cracker at the baby, when I realized that the woman sitting beside me reminded me of my mother.
And not in any good ways.
She was probably about the same age. She was demanding to the point of being rude to the servers. When the baby threw the menu and it landed between my feet and hers, I apologized instantly, and she muttered something about taking kids out to restaurants after she half smiled and said it was okay.
While I was bent over picking up the menu, I saw the same shoes my mom used to wear.
She was waiting for someone to join her. Someone who was late, and getting later, and didn't he know that she was sitting there waiting for him. She called him after texting him a few times, wondering where he was.
She ordered another plate of fried calamari and another 7&7, tall. Seriously the drink my mother used to order.
The guy finally arrived, and that's when things started to really get in my head. They weren't related. They weren't married. He was at least twenty years younger than her and the type of guy that just looks like he's always up to no good, eyes darting all over the room, probably high on something. He was there, scheming, trying to convince her that she needed to give him more money for whatever he was doing for her. In hushed whispers, he passed her purse over the table and she gave him a list of things she needed from him and started writing him a check.
She ordered him the most expensive thing on the menu.
He ordered himself a snakebite.
She started complaining about someone in her family, and it was like I was back in deep a few years ago. Watching her tell some practical stranger about how unloved she was, while he said whatever she needed to hear and could you just add another two hundred to the check? Or do you have any cash because it's hard to cash checks sometimes?
They started the loud whispering people do when they are making half-hearted attempts to be secretive about what they are doing but don't actually care at all if people hear.
Something about rent deposits and the packages being delivered.
More about the ingrates she called children.
When our check arrived and the inexplicably well behaved baby was done shoving sweet potato fries and broccoli in his mouth, I took a deep breath and stood up and walked away. Never looked back.
I don't need to.
I lived it.
I walked away breathing a sigh of relief because I don't have to go back there.
I loved my mother, truly I did.
But she was exhausting and damaging and toxic. She was so much like this woman that it's as if she was an actual doppleganger, walking around the same town my mother lived in briefly, hanging out in the same restaurant even. Her look, her mannerisms, the way she could bore holes through someone with a glare, but turn around and smile as sweet as can be as soon as she thought it would get her something. Sometimes I am reminded of just how bad it was, and I almost got sucked back there last night, but I don't have to do this anymore.
And to tell the truth, it's a total fucking relief.
Picture for effect.
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