|Sharp tongue at the grocery store?|
I buy a Mother's Day card from the Central Library shop.
"This is for my mother-in-law, she hates my guts", I beam at the chatty clerk through gritted teeth, going for a face that should strike the perfect balance between pain and mischief but probably looks more like a 37-year old kid who clearly doesn't get it, it being the very loose concept of family dynamics.
Loose as in cannon, in this case – mouth like a piece of artillery, words as misfired projectiles, and much collateral damage. And that's only through second-hand reports as I have only met my mother-in-law once, back when she was still my boyfriend's mom. The visit was lovely, the family photo albums came out, hugs and smiles were exchanged but she apparently deemed me unworthy on the spot (on account of my being unforgivably foreign, holding a British rather than an American degree, and having 'old' ovaries) as we found out two days later.
That love should finally feature in our previously romantically-challenged lives is as unfathomable to her as her son's educational and professional decisions. Not being interested in going to med school automatically turned anything else he has ever achieved into a write off. With this in mind, "shacking up" with a foreigner who writes – and once used to travel – for a living is yet another non sequitur, an aberration on par with growing a second head.
In short, my being foreign renders everything about me void. That I should be a decent human who makes her son happy does not even feature in her reasoning.
"But I am white, and I speak English!", I mock-protest at my hubby with a little amused moue every time Mom gets mentioned, because if we didn't laugh at how much this hurts then it would crush us.
I bring the card home with the kind of mixed pride and anticipation commonly found in cats who have just deposited a headless mouse at their human companion's feet.
Illustrated by Quentin Blake, the card reads "from your little horror" on the front and "Happy Mother's Day" inside.
Hubby signs his name below the printed message then hands the card to me.
"She might as well start getting used to it".
I squish all our happiness and hopes (for reconciliation, maternal acceptance, love, future visits and shared joy) into eight characters.
"And by the way, I have personalized the front", hubby tells me.
Posted the next day, the card now reads "From your little horrorS".