Not many people can remember how they met their mother. Just like them, I can not remember how I met my biological mother either. But I remember how I met MY mother. Mom. And this is what I remember:
I was living at a girls’ residential group at the time. I was sharing a room with another girl who didn’t like me. To be fair, I didn’t like her either. Or rather I didn’t like anyone, period. Everything sucked.
When my social worker knocked I didn’t answer. Didn’t have to because she entered after knocking anyway. No doors were to remain closed to staff. House rule. And when I say no doors, I mean NO doors. Whatsoever. Anyway, she came in and looked at me over the rim of her glasses – but only after she had given the newly-messed-up room a critical once-over.
“They’re here, Lola. They’re waiting for you.”
I remember that I shrugged. So what? So what if I had agreed to check out some family care project? I had changed my mind. I didn’t want to be part of anyone’s research study-crap. I didn’t want to be anyone’s guinea pig. So I looked the other way and pretended she wasn’t there.
The social worker grew impatient. I could tell by the way she inhaled dramatically, held her breath for a second and then let go of it in this sharp puff that said “you’re being impossible!” like that was news.
“If you’re not going to come, Lola, I will send them to your room! They didn’t come all the way out here for fun. You agreed to see them, so that’s what you will do!”
I didn’t care. Like I ignored my social worker I would ignore them. They would leave sooner or later. Being with people who didn’t talk was annoying, after all. They would try to be nice people at first, they would try to make conversation – in vain – and in the end they would look at each other, would realize their mistake and would be happy to leave and never come back.
Little did I know that this was not what was going to happen. At all.
The first surprise was that they didn’t enter together. I expected this middle aged couple, all prim and proper, suburban, well-off, being basically all the things that I was not, coming in to examine me like I was exhibit A at the Museum of Sad Deranged Individuals. That was what I was prepared for. And they would be getting quite a good show, too. Messy room. Girl with long blond hair and way too much dark makeup in skimpy clothes, forearms freshly slashed. To make absolutely sure they would see, I removed the bandages from last night’s wounds as soon as my social worker had left. Now, see, on another day I might have tried to please everyone, covered up nicely to be a pretend version of the ever-smiling good girl next door, but on that day the world was a black place and I was in a fuck-all mood.
It knocked again. “This is her room”, the social worker told them. “She’s waiting for you.” The exaggeration of the year.
Instead of entering together, this lady came in alone. I only glanced at her casually, and she was pretty average looking. A bit older than I had expected, but by far no granny. Shoulder length brown hair with some silver in it. A smile.
Scowling, I looked the other way. She closed the door behind herself.
“Hello Lola. I am Samantha, but most people call me Sam. It’s nice to finally get to meet you.” She looked around the messy room. “Can I sit down somewhere?”
I ignored her and stared out the window. An idiot-proof method to get rid of people.
“Say so if you mind I make room for myself and sit down on this chair”, the woman said and politely waited a moment before she relocated a mess of clothes.
Her nasty little trick hadn’t slipped from my attention. Instead of asking whether she may sit down – to which I would have remained silent anyway – she had put it the other way around: Speak up if you mind. Not too stupid. Which irked me. I kept on ignoring her, knowing this was a game I was better at than anyone else. So I simply waited. For her to try conversation starters. Several if she was persistent. But most of all I waited for her to grow desperate, irritated and finally helpless in the face of my passivity so she would leave.
But instead of saying something, she remained silent as well. I didn’t turn her way, but in the way you notice things from the corner of your eye I could tell that she was looking around the room, studying things. Studying me. Calm and collected.
“Honey, I don’t meant to be intrusive but those cuts on your arms are bleeding. You might want to have them taken care of before sitting here with me.”
As much as I would have liked to ignore her words, I couldn’t. I wasn’t aware the darn cuts had started bleeding again, but stealing a glance down I saw that she was right. So much for my genius idea of taking the dressings off of fresh wounds to go for the shock-effect. Shit. And she hadn’t even sounded particularly shocked. More like it wasn’t a big deal.
I shrugged and there went my resolution not to talk because some switch in me had just been flicked the other way. “So what?! Not like anyone cares what my arms look like around this place.”
Sam had looked at me and smiled a little. Friendly, but I couldn’t tell whether she was buying it or not. In hindsight I know the answer, but back then I couldn’t tell.
“How about we go and get them cared for?”
Have I mentioned that I am a sucker for attention and getting fussed over? Yeah, well I am. So once I had started down this road, I couldn’t resist. I ended up going to the nurse with her. Ended up talking with her. And quite unlike I had planned, I ended up liking her after this first visit. Or rather I ended up thinking she was the only person in the world who was good. My day had turned from black to perfect. Yay for idolization and all that. At least it made coming to live with her and her family a lot easier some weeks down the road.
Of course thereafter it didn’t take long until I got disillusioned. Hated her. Lots of drama. But we solved it. Loved her. Hated her again. Loved her. Hated her. And loved her. But it always ended with loving, even the bigger episodes of drama. And now she’s my mom. The greatest mom I could ask for. In a real way, not an idolizing one. Or maybe a little idolizing. But just because she is.