Chapter 20: Dear Mama
It had been years since I had seen this side of my mom. She was kind, loving, and concerned with my every move. She wasn't closed and distant anymore and on the inside, I was jumping for joy. On the outside, I was huffing and puffing and almost certain that I never wanted to see another flower or balloon for the rest of my life and I was dying for a pizza and a Pepsi. We'd spent an entire day in Bluefield and Princeton hopping from the Dollar Tree to every craft store she could find. I would whine about being tired and nauseous and she would simply say, "get over it Sydney Gayle. The walking is good for you. You'll have an easy labor." A part of me felt like this was all pure torture and another part was incredibly grateful that I was finally able to spend time with my mom again.
I hobbled into the kitchen, drenched in sweat, and sat down bundles of bags that I carried in from the car. My arms felt like they were going to break, but there was no way in hell I was going back outside in the scorching sun. I wouldn't have survived another trip to the car. Mom strolled in behind me, scanning the floor to make sure we got everything. "Talk about shopping til you drop,"she said with a chuckle. I plopped down in the floor on my ass, hoping that I would finally be able to catch my breath. "Mom, I feel like I'm going to die!" I shouted. Sweat continued to roll down my back and I felt like a huge hog, dying to roll around in a mud puddle to cool off.
I pulled out my phone, hoping that Danny wanted me to come back home so I could escape this mess. I unlocked the screen and there were no missed calls and no texts. I groaned and slid my phone across the floor. "I already told Danny not to bother us. We're having a girls day," she said proudly. My eyes grew wide and I dreaded what was left for us to do today considering the fact that it wasn't even three o'clock in the evening yet.
The house phone rang and I finally felt relieved. I would be able to spend more time catching my breath and gear up for whatever else she had up her sleeve. "Lil, you oughta see my baby! She's getting fat as a little bear!" Mom beamed with pride as she rambled on to Aunt Lily. Thank God. She was probably going to spend a pretty good amount of time talking to her sister.
I crawled across the floor and retrieved my phone. I crossed my legs and smiled when I thought of what Danny was probably up to and how I was going to have to pay him back for leaving me with my mom.
Me: You did me dirty..
D: Nope. I'm just afraid of your mom lol
Me: Whatever! She's all bark and no bite lol
D: Yeah, well she threatened my life so I'd rather not take any chances lol
Me: Alright. I'll remember that ;)
Their relationship was actually shocking. I never thought that it would have blossomed the way that it did, but I was grateful. She loved him like he was her own son.
It actually turned out to be a pretty great night. We threw together a few bouquets for the vow renewal and my fingers were on fire from the hot glue gun, but overall, I hadn't had this much fun with her in years. After a while, we just faded into making conversation with each other and time flew right by us. We laughed about the ridiculous things I did as a kid like when I told Mom and Dad that there was a snake in the house and after hours of tearing apart the house searching for it, they decided to ask me what it looked like and I just rambled off a bunch of colors, revealing that I didn't actually see one. My mom proudly acknowledged all of her traits that she could see in me and she nearly hollered when I told her that Danny thought she was white.
"I would have never thought any of this would have been happening," she said with a smile. She sat across from me at the kitchen table with her hand wrapped around an ice cold glass of water. It was odd to see her drinking something other than alcohol. In the back of my mind, I knew that the majority of McDowell County would soon say the same thing about me. "I know. One minute I'm a mess and we're barely speaking and now I can't stop smiling and I can't get over how much fun we had today." Her expression changed and I didn't even realize that I had pointed out the wedge that had driven us apart for so long.
"I'm not proud of that. I really wish things could have been different. You really needed me, but I was in a terribly dark place. I just didn't feel happy when I had everything I could ever want right in front of me," she admitted. "It's not all your fault, Mom. Trying to be the mother to a little rebel is definitely a challenge," I said with a chuckle. For a split second, I saw everything in the past year from the drinking to the fighting and all of the other careless things I did. "I just wanted you and Dad to notice me." She formed a tight line with her mouth.
"And we should have. Marriage is hard. It's even harder when you have a child caught up in the middle of it all. But I'm glad you had people in your life to take care of you even when I wasn't doing the best job at it." She was fighting back tears. "We make mistakes, Mom. We're human," I reached across the table and held onto her hand. "You don't know how much I appreciate you owning up to your mistakes," I said with a wide smile. "Thank you, baby." A tear fell down her cheek.
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to forgive myself for the things that I've done. Raising you was something that left me completely in the dark. When I was your age, we didn't talk about sex and boys. We were only told not to do it and to stay away from them or we would get our asses busted. You know your grandma just as well as I do," she said, raising both eyebrows. I cringed at the thought of having Maw Maw Tess as a mother. She was firm and controlling toward Candace and I as kids. Sometimes she was even cold and I couldn't imagine what it was like for my mom and her siblings. I understood even more how difficult things were for her. She was clueless.
"I don't know if you want to talk about it, but we probably should," she said and then paused. The suspense was killing me as she took some time to get herself together. "The affair ended. It ended badly, but it ended a long time ago. I should have never been that stupid and I should have seen that it was tearing our family apart." My heart began to race. I would have never expected her to pull all of that out and admit that she was in the wrong. But I was glad that she did. It had been the core of our power struggle and it was what drove me away.
More tears were streaming down her face and without even realizing it, a few of my own tears were splashing against the table. This was everything I ever wanted and everything I wanted to hear. Hell had to have frozen over. A year ago, I would have never seen my mom sitting down to apologize and admit that she was in the wrong. "I love you and your daddy more than anything in this world and I would die for the two of you. Now it's time I start showing it." She squeezed my hand, signaling that this was the start of a new beginning for us. Now I understood why they were wanting to renew their vows. It was time for a fresh start and new promises that would remain unbroken.
"You're all grown up now and I can't make our rocky past disappear. You've got your own little family now and I can't wait to be apart of it." We both smiled at each other. I finally felt like I was looking at the mom and best friend that I always wanted.
I was in an amazing mood once I made it back to Danny's. All we could do was stay curled up on the couch, under the air conditioning. If I stepped outside into the heat for too long, I would puke and dry heave until I would almost pee on myself from the force. I was good at keeping my composure and my mom and friends often checked in on me or stopped by, but that didn't stop him from worrying himself to death. I had an amazing support system now, so there were other people in my life that were levelheaded about my symptoms. Danny was super paranoid and his irrational fears were going to make me strangle him.
“What’s on your mind?” I asked Danny as he stared blankly at my stomach. “I’m worried,” he said calmly. I maneuvered my body to where I was almost sitting in his lap. “What’s wrong?” He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close to his warm body. “I’m worried about you staying so sick. You could get dehydrated and I know it’s important for everyone to drink enough water.” He was going to worry himself to death for the next few months. I just knew he was. “Baby, I’m fine. I swear. It's just been really hot. It's the dead middle of summer and I have to get adjusted,” I pleaded with him. I couldn't remember how many times I tried to tell him that all of this was natural. I was going to get sick and throw up and I was going to have a headache or two here and there. I tried my best to remain calm most of the time and not think about all of the bad shit that could happen.
He wasn’t buying it at all. “And you never want to just sit back and let me do my job. I told you that I was going to take care of you and you’re just being hard-headed,” he said with a smile. It was nice to know that he wasn’t growing angry with me. Sometimes I couldn’t handle Danny if he was mad at me. It felt like he was the pregnant one. “I can’t just let you sit back and do all of the work. I don’t like having you wait on me hand and foot.”
He pulled my feet into his lap and began to gently massage each of them. It felt amazing. I
hadn’t realized that my head had fallen back and I was stuck somewhere between awake and asleep. “Now, was that so hard?” he asked. “Nope,” I replied softly.
This was the first time since we had left the beach that I felt this relaxed and he could tell that I was. I knew he was going to try and take advantage of this moment and I was just hoping that these hormones would let him. His large hands caressed both of my thighs and his lips danced over my stomach and my hip bones where he was probably planning on leaving hickies. “You know that I love you, don’t you?” he asked me between kisses. His tongue brushed over my bikini line and it caused me to moan loudly. “Answer me,” he said a little louder as he pressed his thumb firmly between my legs on the most sensitive spot that he could find. “Yes!” I squealed. As soon as I was able to answer, he slipped a finger inside of me and I could hear a groan leave his throat. I kept my fingers crossed, still hoping that my usual bout with nausea would hold off so I could enjoy this moment.
The more Danny massaged my insides, the more it held off, and the more I was able to relax. I was getting close and he loved every minute of seeing me fall over the edge. I didn’t even realize that I was gasping for air and there he was with a pleased look on his face. “Are you trying to kill me?” I asked with a chuckle. “No. You seriously needed to relax and listen to me. All I want to do is take care of you,” he said. I stood up from the couch, fixing my shorts and noticing how wet they were. I looked down on the couch to see an even bigger wet spot than expected that was about the size of a dinner plate. This was going to require a shower and the couch was going to have to be scrubbed. Danny was staring between me and the couch with his eyes wide, looking like he was dying for a meal. “When your hormones get settled, I know I’m gonna have a ball.” There he was. Being gross again.