“I’m sorry I made you bipolar.”
Wait, what? My mother stood in the kitchen stoically wiping a dish that was already dry. “I know I made you this way.” I was stunned, and at quite a loss for words. I was already uncomfortable in this scene even without the abrupt confession.
My mother’s house was so her: beautiful and unwelcoming. She had always lived in that damned yellow kitchen. Lemon and white striped wallpaper, stiff and perfect, topped with an elaborate wrap-around border painted with fruits and vegetables. I remember when she picked out the wallpaper. She loved that border so much but it was about two inches too wide to fit over the top the doorways in the room. Instead of picking a slimmer one, she made the interior designer hand-trim the extra two inches of white border off the bottom, cutting around each leaf and stem of that intricate pattern until it blended with seeming effortlessness into the stripes below, just passing above the impeding doorways. That was my mother.
I was wedged awkwardly into one of her prickly wicker side chairs; staring blankly at the back of her head as Fox News was droning on in the background. “I don’t think that’s the way it works, Mom.” I didn’t want to let her off the hook. There were so many other things she needed to apologize for. This just wasn’t one of them.
I was just grateful that she finally acknowledged something went wrong with the way she raised me. While she was misguided in her apology, I appreciated the effort. In many ways I’ve made peace with it all. Maybe I’ve just become skilled at compartmentalizing over the years. There’s the adult version of me who sees a tiny, increasingly frail woman inching slowly and tragically toward dementia. It’s difficult to harbor rage for such a helpless creature. But child me? Child me is pissed.