My mom was clearly angry when I called yesterday evening. She is really mad that I am going to my cousin’s baby’s second birthday party, which is happening this Saturday in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which is about an hour and a half commute from my apartment. She had a really nasty tone with every sentence that came out of her mouth, and she said, “I told you I didn’t want you to go, but you don’t listen. You never listen to anything I ever say. But I just want you to know that I do not want you talking to his wife — she is a devil. There, I said it. She’s a devil! DEVIL!” I told her to stop saying that, and she just kept repeating the phrase, “She’s a devil!” that I finally said, Okay, this conversation is over. Goodbye. And then, I hung up.
There are two reasons she hates my cousin’s wife (she isn’t a big fan of this cousin, either, but she wants to focus on her hatred of women most of the time). The first reason is that when my cousin and his wife came to visit San Francisco in 2009, my mom treated them to lunch. My mom is the kind of person who counts every time she treats you and will hate you forever if you never treat her the same number of times. My cousin’s wife profusely thanked her and said that when she and my dad were to come to New York next, she’d tour them around the city and make sure to take them to a good restaurant. Well, in spring 2010, my parents did come, and not only did my cousin and his wife not take my parents anywhere, but my cousin’s wife didn’t even show up to the dinner that we all had together because she had to stay late at work that night. I didn’t mind because I understand how hectic work can be, but my mother was furious and was yelling about it the whole night, taking it personally, as she always does. Stupid me, I defended my cousin’s wife, saying that you can’t control work when it comes in.
The second reason she hates my cousin’s wife is that she found out that she told my cousin to “just get over it” when my brother died last year, knowing that my cousin and my brother were very close growing up. My cousin loves to complain about his wife, and apparently, he told my mother this. What a bad idea. Granted, that does sound like an extremely heartless thing to say, but knowing that my cousin is a complete chauvinistic jerk to her, I can understand that she just wanted to hit him where it hurt. For very clear reasons, my mother was very upset, and typical her, she’s held both grudges ever since. She’s told me she wants me to have nothing to do with either of them and their child, and at most, to just send a gift but not spend any time with them. I’m going to the birthday party because of the baby, not because of my cousin or his wife or their dysfunctional marriage. She just doesn’t understand because she’s so blinded by her own hatred and the grudges she refuses to let go of.
Sometimes, I think about all the things I can’t stand about my mother, and I wonder if I have some form of those qualities. And then I get freaked out by it because I think, I don’t want to become what I hate. Isn’t that what every child seems to fear — that he/she will become the worst qualities of his/her parents?