Me Vs. Music

Pissing off Mothra 

My mother has a couple of nicknames: Mom Thumb and Mothra. She’s a tiny spitfire, and I have put her through so much. I’m so lucky she didn’t drive me into a lake.

There are times when children don’t behave, and when that behavior makes parents yell more than necessary or logical. I was an expert at making my usually cool and calm mother turn into a screaming lunatic. Recently, my mother gave me a bag filled with my old report cards and test scores — trinkets of a parent, at times proud, and yet held with sadism. She knew that one day I would be an adult, and that I would be cursed with the child she wished upon me. My mother, sensing the time may approach soon, decided to pull out her saved bits of my childhood.

I opened the bag, pulled out my tiny hospital bracelet, so small that it barely fits around two of my fingers. With it, she placed her bracelet, also much tinier than the mother I remember thinking was “big.” She’s 4’10” and, at 26, was barely a size 1. There was my middle-school art class stitchery of Boy George (Mom, why did you save this hideous thing?) and a host of school reports.

“Inconsistent” is how I would describe myself as a child. I was easily distracted and often discouraged as I suffered through school, bored much of the time. My report cards reflected a kid with great potential, whose need to be independent and, at times, blatantly defiant, worked against my scores. Judging from their comments, the teachers were as frustrated as my mother that I refused to be a straight-A student. At one point, the school and my mother colluded to have me tested for advanced placement in a gifted program. Being 8 years old and hearing the word gifted, I thought they were saying that I was challenged and not bright. I did not realize my mother was seeking to get me placed into a school that could understand the way I learned and keep pace with me. Needless to say, my school years created a social awkwardness that I have spent a long time trying to alleviate.

As my frustration grew and hormones kicked in, I turned my defiance inward. I became hooked on the USA Network’s “Night Flight,” which, at the time, seemed to be the hub of socially awkward programming. I appreciated the characters in movies like “Breaking Glass,” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains,” who, when presented with frustration, could turn that angst into a song and let the people who pissed them off know it.

Thus we are brought to the main years of struggle between my mother and myself. We are very close, but there was a time when “screaming lunatic” became her norm for our interactions. On one particularly bad episode, I decided that my mother was the “worst mother ever” and that she simply didn’t love me anymore. She had likely only banned me from watching MTV. Either way, I felt that the idea of love had left our home.

During those years, Madonna had recorded the Rose Royce tune, “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” Hearing this, I decided it was the most fitting song to describe my situation. I found a marker and scrawled the title on a piece of paper.

We lived in the first floor of an apartment building. The sidewalk was separated from the windows by a small flowerbed. I taped my sign to the front window so that everyone would know how Love had packed up and left. My mom, not home when I hung the sign, was the person to find it. Her reaction, other than inviting me to go and find a place where Love still resided, is a blur. I’m pretty sure it was worse than whatever started the problem.

I told my mother that I was telling this story. She had forgotten about it, likely for the same reason that I can barely remember it. Our worst reactions are often shuffled away to the safest parts of our brain so the pain doesn’t cause us to implode. Thank goodness for that.

Mothra, I’m sorry. Let’s blame it on being gifted (or something like that).

Erica Rucker is a freelance weirdo, writer and professional wedding/portrait photographer at eElaine Photography.