Did I Succeed?

I am a little girl, maybe 4 years old. I love playing with dollies and pretending I am grown up like my mom. I enjoy helping her make the beds, pick up the kitchen, run errands. I imagine myself being just like her when I grow up.

I am not sure how old I am…maybe 5. We drive across the country in search of something, someone. My mother thinks that the Guru Maharishi is the answer to all of her prayers, and so we go across the country to find him. We stay in a barn, sleeping in the hay. I run around in the warm sun without a shirt on, playing with other kids who’s parents are looking for something more also. My mother doesn’t pay much attention to me, but I don’t care. She falls out of the top part of the barn and breaks her arm – so we go home.

I am 7 years old, I think. I am starting 2nd grade. My mother works a lot now, she is never home during the day. I go to school without her, I come home without her. My brother and I make our own breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t think much about what it is like to be her, I just know that I miss her and wish she were home when I came home from school.

I am 9 years old. My mother didn’t feel like she was giving us a balanced home, and so we move in with another family…a “real family” with a mom, dad, and all of the relatives around. It is called a community, and I hate it. I feel like an outsider, and my mom seems strange. I grow further away from her.

I am 10 years old. We move into an old house in a bad neighborhood. I don’t mind, because it gets us out of the community we were living in. I like the time with my mom, and I feel like a normal family for a change. We work on the house together, and spend a lot of time trying to heal our hearts.

I am 16 years old. I am ashamed of where I live. I am ashamed of the fact that my mom works nights as a nurse. I want to be like all of the kids I go to school with – in their expensive houses, with expensive cars. I want to wear new, stylish clothes. I want my mom to be at home when I get home from school. I want to take vacations.

I am 17 years old. My mom changes jobs and begins making a lot more money. We are able to buy clothes, go out to eat, we finally can afford cable. She travels a lot, and is NEVER home, but I don’t even notice anymore. I have not thought about what it would be like to be her in many, many years. She is so far from the person I am, the person I want to be.

I am 19 years old and going away to college. I cannot wait to leave home and be on my own, yet in a way I have been on my own for a very, very long time. I like the idea of starting over, of re-inventing myself.

I am 20. My mother becomes very sick. She is going to die.

I am 21 years old. I am married. I am also 6 months pregnant, and have just found out that my unborn child is a little girl. I tell my mother…she says that she already knows. She dies the next day.

I think about my relationship with my mother. We were never very close. She had to work two jobs most of my life, and I just never saw her. I loved her more than anything – there was that bond that I have no explanation for, yet there was very little closeness. I swore to never hold my children at arms length the way she did with me. I wonder if I succeeded?