My mom stopped by tonight. She doesn't come to our house very often, and when she does, she usually just sits outside in the car and we have to go out to talk to her, with the car running the whole time. I talk to her almost everyday, and she lives about 15 minutes away, but she's just not the visiting type.
Tonight she stopped by and came inside, which happens perhaps once or twice a year. She wouldn't sit down, though, instead she did the dishes while I halfheartedly protested. She came to pick up some pictures of the girls, because my father is going to Ireland tomorrow and he wants to show off his grandkids.
When I was a kid, my mother was considered the crazy mom in the neighborhood - with fairly good reason, I suppose.* She was good crazy, not scary crazy, but crazy is crazy, and some kids weren't allowed to come over our house. She is a constant puzzle to my sisters and I, because this is a woman who I believe would kill someone who threatened her children, and would pulverize someone who would threaten her grandchildren, but I don't believe she's ever told any one of us that she loves us. I don't need to hear it - a mom who washes my dishes says it well enough for me.
One of the things that always makes me sad is when I think about how much my mother fights off happiness. She actively rejects anything that might bring her even a little bit of pleasure. She is a die-hard martyr, and I don't think that will ever change.
**One summer she spent a huge chunk of every day jumping on a pogo stick in the driveway. For several years of my childhood she refused to go into any establishment - she would drive my older sister and I to the grocery store and hand us money and we did all the shopping (this was probably from the time I was about 8 until I was 14). After a fight with my father (which nearly always resulted in many things being broken), she was known to creatively display the broken items - once I came home from school and there were broken lamps and dishes hanging by shoelaces that had been nailed to the living room ceiling.
She was also supremely cool sometimes. She took me to see David Bowie, she let me read anything I wanted to read, she used to pack the kids who were allowed to hang out with us into the van and take us all to the drive-in.