So, I decided to return to school to complete some unfinished academic business, which is part of the reason why you haven’t heard from me in so long.
It wasn’t a rash decision – it was something I thought about long and hard, carefully contemplating how to best return to the higher education world I had been absent from for so long. I was not at all concerned about my ability to complete the work. I still am, and always will be, a very gifted person intellectually, and that has always translated into academic success for me, for the most part. But I did face a few challenges, which is why my academic work went uncompleted for many years. But I feel ready now to finally meet this challenge head on, so after much thought, I enrolled in University of Maryland, University College.
It has been very challenging for me. First of all, it’s an online program, which has definitely taken some getting used to. When I last was in college it was very traditional classroom learning. There are definitely some disadvantages to online learning, and I’ve had to get used to a lot I wasn’t expecting. Secondly, I took a very heavy course load considering I’ve been away from the rigors of academia for so long, and I truly regret that now. Third, when I started taking classes I was not working. Since then, I’ve taken on a few weeks work on a temporary assignment to raise some much needed income, and I haven’t really done well with shifting from being at home all day doing my schoolwork to having to be at work 8 hours a day, then doing my homework. Finally, I’m now running an online publication full time – Mic Life Magazine.
And while I do love it, it is time consuming. It also requires for me to be out and about a good bit covering events and interviewing artists, which is not something I’m trying to spend a lot of time doing, especially now that I’m working and going to school. The convergence of all these things has meant me struggling the past few weeks. I’ve totally missed deadlines on assignments for school; in some cases I didn’t even know I had an assignment until the deadline had passed. I’ve been insanely sleepy and tired at work as I’ve stayed up until all hours trying to get my schoolwork caught up. And somewhere in there I’m still trying to pursue my other creative endeavors and help a couple of my artist friends get projects they’re working on off the ground. Oh…and also…my former boyfriend has returned to Baltimore. This was a challenge in and of itself because he and I weren’t entirely sure how we were going to proceed in dealing with each other once he returned. But now that he has, we are going to try to see what we can possibly build together as a couple. So, my life has shifted a lot in a short time.
We do have what I consider to be some obstacles in our way – one of the most important ones being my mother. Simply put, she does not like him. This is not especially troubling to me in some ways because honestly, my mom has never liked anyone I dated when I was dating them, and doesn’t think much of even my most casual, platonic friends. So her not liking him is nothing shocking, and she always has found very passive aggressive ways to act out when my friends were around. As I’ve gotten older, it has bothered me less as I’ve come to accept my mother for who she is and who she isn’t.
But since his return, she has found newer, more intense, more irritating ways to act out. She has found some horrible and hurtful things to say to me, demonstrating a shocking lack of consideration for my feelings and for my ability to make sound decisions. I find it disappointing that she thinks so little of me in spite of all the ways I’ve been there for her over the years. I would think that after everything I’ve been through that my mom would agree that I deserve happiness with a man who genuinely cares for me, wants to be with me, and wants my life to be better because of his presence in it. But her primary concern seems to be how his presence in my life will take my attention away from her and the things she thinks I should pay attention to – which are basically things related to her.
No matter how many times I assure her that I will never ever let anyone or anything keep me from actively caring for my mom, loving her, taking care of her needs, her safety and her security, all she sees in this man is him taking me away from her. In her mind, she has decided that he will sweep me far, far away to Never Never Land, and I would just go, never looking back at the family I would leave behind. He is her worst nightmare – a Peter Pan figure in my life that will wisk me away to a place where I will never have to grow up – never have responsibilities, burden, unhappiness or pain. No matter how often I speak to her about my dedication to my family, no matter how often I point to the years of service I have given her and my family, no matter how much I have put my own desires on the back burner because I so wanted my mother’s approval (which I never got), no matter how steadfast, reliable, and dependable I have been in every way for years, from dealing with the day-to-day financial struggles of limited financial resources, to helping to care for both my dad and my uncle when they became ill, to caring for my autistic son and my troubled daughter, my mother doesn’t want to acknowledge that I am a rock for my family, a safe harbor they can cling to and lean on and get help from no matter what storms are blowing in their lives.
She simply will NOT give me my props. Now not giving me my props was fine when she could shame me into believing I didn’t deserve them because of some of the mistakes I’ve made and some of the bad choices I’ve made. But now I KNOW I deserve my props. I deserve to be honored by her for being a good daughter to her, even in the face of her lack of respect and appreciation for me at times, the same way I honor her for being an outstanding mother to me, even to this day. I deserve reciprocity at this point, and I’m not getting it. She even had the audacity and unmitigated gall to ask if I planned to continue attending school since he’d returned – as if to say I would not feel compelled to continue my education because I had a man in my life. What kind of gawd-awful bullshit is that? But that is a prime example of my mother’s low opinion of me, in spite of all I’ve successfully overcome in my life. I’m fucking proud of me, and have no intention of allowing anyone to take from me the high opinion I FINALLY have of myself – not even her.
Me and my mommy back in the day.
But in the meantime, life goes on. I work. I run the magazine. I interview artists, and review their work. I write. I spend time with my man as we see what life we can have together. I make plans for my future as a prosperous successful media/entertainment mogul. I move forward and build and grow and learn. And I continue to love my mother. Even when she’s making me angry and sad I love her. I love her even when I see her clinging to her fear of being left alone instead of trusting in me and the history I have established of being there for her no matter what. I continue to love my mother even when she’s hurting me with her inability to see how wonderful I really am, how dependable and trustworthy I am. I continue to love my mother when she won’t see how loved, respected and admired I am by so many people. I continue to love my mother when she is being difficult, and I reach my wits end, and I yell at her, begging her to stop her onslaught long enough to see that though she is doing what she is doing because she is afraid of me leaving her, doing what she is doing is exactly the kind of thing that would make me leave. I continue to love my mother even when it seems like she doesn’t much love me, because I know she’s just getting older and afraid of where she’ll fit in as my life changes. But I do wish she’d stop trying to stop my life from changing, especially when the changes are making my life better, more full, more fabulous, and are allowing me a chance to be happy and fulfilled and contented in a way I haven’t had a chance to experience.
I hope she will graciously let go. Because I promise you, anyone who truly loves you and who truly deserves your love in return will come back if you can be brave enough to not hold too tightly.