I wound up at a formal dinner tonight. That wasn’t my intent. I had planned on steak and laying on the couch, and then plans changed as they seem to often do in Victoria. (See: trip to storage locker).
I was sitting there, eating my meal and making polite conversation, my thoughts turned to my mother.
We are still estranged. I will say honestly, at least here, that this is actually fine. I miss the nice person that was sometimes my mother, and I don’t miss what mental illness made her become. I don’t miss the meanness, the pettiness, the hurtfulness. I don’t miss the calculated strikes, the lies, the misery.
Still, as I looked at the sugar free licorice last weekend; and I separated out when she returned her Christmas presents to me last year with a note that I must have given her random things I kept handy, instead of the carefully chosen gifts they were: it felt strange to look at the sugar free licorice and not buy it. It felt strange to send Christmas cards and realize that I don’t have an address to send one to my mother. I could find an address, but that isn’t the point..
Moving away from the diversion, I found myself invited to a formal dinner, armed with only my wits and my manners. With all of the guys, eating dinner. And as I navigated through the multiple courses and forks, through the wines into the dessert course, I found myself thankful for a singular part of my upbringing. Seated between clients and colleagues, I realized:
I can eat a proper meal. I don’t freak when a gentleman pushes in my chair, I know to put my napkin on my lap, and I know which fork to use. I know how to excuse myself from the table, where to put my cutlery and how to eat without embarrassing myself.
There are oh so many things about my childhood I might change. There are oh so many things that I wish had been different, times when I wish my mother had been other than she was. But, as I sat at that table, I found myself thinking, she did this right. And I am thankful.