The Power Of Maternal Authority
My mother starting teaching me how to cook when I was five; I made my first breakfast when I was eight. When I was eleven, I learned an entirely different lesson; a mother’s will is absolute.
My mother worked harder than the rest of us; she was always up at five to water the garden in the backyard and feed the dogs. Then she would make sure her family was up, and by the time we were dressed, breakfast was ready—every day. After all of us were off to work or school, mom would run the day’s errands, which often took up to four hours. By noon, mom would be sitting down to her first meal of the day and still had dinner to make for the rest of us. I still don’t know how she did it, all those years.
I was eleven years old, home from school for a holiday (I remember it was a holiday because if I had been in trouble, I would’ve been doing chores all day). Mom is sitting down to a dinner of cold fried chicken breast, leftover from the previous nights’ dinner, with plain Lays on the side. In the meantime, I’m getting hungry, but I can take care of myself.
I first ask my mom if I can have some leftover chicken. She tells me that I can have what’s left.
A few moments later, I ask my mom if I can have some tomatoes and green onions. Sure, just don’t eat all of them.
Yet again, I ask my mother for more food; this time it’s tortilla shells.
Exasperated and eternally polite, my mother finally turns to me and tells me that I can have anything I want to eat, as long as I leave enough for everyone else. I apologize for bothering her and return to the kitchen.
Twenty minutes later, I join her at the table with three soft-shell chicken tacos, garnished with tomatoes, green onions, and red taco sauce.
My mother looked at her plate, then my plate, then her plate, and my plate yet again.
Without a word, and faster than I expected, mom switched the two plates as if playing a shell game.
I open my mouth to protest, and my mother holds up That Finger (we’ve all gotten That Finger from our moms). “Boy, I was in labor with you for eighteen hours, do not cross me.”
I enjoyed my cold chicken breast and chips for lunch.
I spent a lot of time coming to terms with my childhood, which wasn’t ideal, but it had its bright spots. If it wasn’t for my mother, I wouldn’t be alive today, and no matter what happens, I’m glad we all buried the hatchet and made peace.
Thanks for reading.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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