“Thanks a lot mom.” Christina can already feel the rush of blood to her head that signals a migraine. Coming to her mother’s place had been a last resort. She feels like a teenager again. “I don’t need the everyday condescension and I need it even less while I’m in the middle of a divorce.”
Her mother, Lisa, shrugs bony shoulders and continues cutting the carrot resting on her cutting board. A pot of soup sits waiting on the stove. Leave it to her mother to make soup from scratch when a can of Campbell’s would do the trick. “I’m just reminding you that you shouldn't have married Paul in the first place. I honestly don’t know what you saw in him.”
“As you’ve already told me before I married him and after. I don’t need the reminder.” Christina can feel the truth of that particular question on the tip of her tongue but refrains. She kept that secret for three years and will be damned if she spills the beans now. “Well maybe I loved him. Did that ever cross your mind?”
Lisa snorts and slides the diced carrots into the shimmering pot on the stove. “Love? I doubt it dear. All you two did was argue and that was before he cheated. He was a bad egg from the beginning.”
Taking a deep breath Christina resists the urge to gouge her own eyes out. Or rip out her mother’s tongue. “Every marriage is different. Sometimes people who seemed good at the time don’t work out.” Like your own husband Christina thinks but doesn’t add. That is a particular can of worms only used in certain circumstances.
“An easy way of saying it was doomed to fail.”
“Mom!” Christina exclaims, throwing her hands in the air and letting them thump back down on the counter top.
“If you don’t like what I have to say you are more than welcome to stay with your father.” Lisa stirs her soup before putting the spoon down on the counter. And there it is.
“I haven’t spoken to dad since he started dating a woman younger than me.” Bailey, her dad’s current girlfriend, is a whopping 23 years old. It makes Christina’s 27 years feel a lot longer. “Believe me when I say you are the lesser of two evils in this scenario.”
“Well if I’m so bad there is always your sister.” Lisa smiles and looks over to the fridge, which holds a picture of Clarissa, her husband Brian and their two kids Max and Lila smiling in front of an oak tree. It doesn’t escape her notice it’s the only picture on the fridge.
Christina rolls her eyes. “Yes I’m sure Clarissa would be just as supporting and understanding as you.”
When Christina had told her sister of the pending divorce (trying to see of Brian would be her lawyer so she wouldn’t have to pay for one) Clarissa had tut-tutted and said ‘Well it was bound to happen.’
The fact that the only one who hadn’t disapproved of her marriage at it’s inception had been her father never left Christina’s mind. But she’d been in a tight spot and bowed to the pressure she knew would be heaped on her by her judgmental mother and perfect sister and had taken the easy road. Almost subconsciously she rubs her belly.
“I just want what’s best for you Christina. You always lash out so much.” Lisa puts a lid on the soup pot and turns to her youngest daughter. “I think you get that from your father.”
“You were the one who married him.”
“I didn’t listen to my mother when she warned me about your father and I wound up a forty year old divorcee. I was trying to spare you that.”
“Oh please you have criticized everything I’ve done from the moment I was born. Hell, on my wedding day you called me fat.”
Lisa shrugs again. “You put on weight dear I thought you would want to know.”
“And when you told me only fat girls don’t do cheer leading?”
“Exercise is important.”
“When you told me my hair color was abysmal and I should dye it to make my face pop because I was too pale?”
“I want you to look your best.”
“Or when you-”
But Lisa slams her hand against the counter. “Enough Christina. Everything I did was to try and make your life better. I challenged Clarissa and she managed to rise to the occasion. There was no reason you couldn’t.”
Christina sneers. “Clarissa was your little mini-me and I was the ugly duckling my entire childhood. I can’t think of one nice thing you’ve said about me. And maybe I shouldn't have married Paul but that was my mistake to make. It’s my life mom and I may have hit rock bottom but there’s only one way to go from here. I don’t need you handing me a shovel.”
Lisa had watched her daughter’s outburst with cool eyes. “Your mistakes come from you being too stubborn to realize how much you’ve ruined your own life. You have never risen to your full potential no matter how much I pushed. You could have been so many great things Christina but instead you’ve chosen to squander anything good handed to you because you’re too stubborn to admit you need help. I honestly don’t know where I went wrong with you- perhaps I expected too much from an angry, hurtful little girl.”
“Gee thanks mom.” Christina repeats. When she was a teenager that would have sent angry tears to her eyes. Now they roll off her back. “I can’t imagine why dad left you for a younger woman.”
The slap wrings out in her mother’s pristine kitchen. Christina feels the throbbing in her cheek but doesn’t give her mother the satisfaction of reaching up to touch it. “I think I will go stay somewhere else. I hope the soup tastes good.”
Christina stands up and once again leaves the overwhelming heat of her mother’s kitchen.