We all have that one person in our lives we think we’d be lost without. Like, in the event you ever stupidly got a DUI when you were 21, you would call this person because they’d know how insanely claustrophobic you are. They would offer explicit instructions on how to keister sleeping pills into jail and offer to help – physically, if needed. You’d also call this person if you ever pooped your pants at work. You’d obviously be so close to this person that the two of you would work at the same place. They’d come to your office where they’d cut you out of your soiled panties and dispose of them – in a sanitary fashion. More importantly though, this person would not act disgusted whatsoever; in fact, they’d laugh with you. And, they’re the same person you’d call if you ever got your heart shattered by the only man you ever loved – because their words would act like superglue. Of course, you’d also call this person when you were bored as hell, or lonely as hell, and had absolutely nothing to say, but just needed comfort. This person would instantly know this and just listen to you breathe through the phone.
My person was my mom. Mom and I were tight. Think fitted sheet tight. Think Spanx tight. Think Joan Rivers’ face tight. A little Thelma and Louise, a little Laverne & Shirley, a little Sharon and Kelly Osborn; that was Mom and me. She had my back and I had hers. She was my compass, and with her I felt safe. Why wouldn’t I? The woman protected me while I was hanging out in her womb. And, she did such an amazing job that there have been many times – since I was violently thrust out 34 years ago – that I’ve wanted to crawl right back in there.
Especially the time right before I lost her, about 10 years ago. I just wanted to hold on to her so tightly, because I could feel her slipping away so quickly. It was like trying to hold onto ice cream. She was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. Divorce is like that. It changes people. Divorce takes people by the mom jeans, gray-speckled black hair, untarnished lungs, sober liver and it frosts their tips blonde, dusts their duds in sequins, pours them a fifth of Captain Morgan, tosses a pack of Marlboro Reds their way, and calls it a day. And when Divorce is through, it leaves you with a Pimp My Ride version of your person.
Divorce is a bitch.
With the mom I knew gone, I felt lost. Who was I supposed to call when I had an excruciating migraine, but didn’t know if it warranted a doctor’s visit? Who was I supposed to call when my period was late? Who was I supposed to call to help me decide if I should be mad at my best friend for not taking me to the airport? And, who was I supposed to call to find out if I could substitute dark corn syrup for molasses in a cookie recipe? Most people use Google to get these answers, but I used my mom.
The woman who once had all the answers was off doing her own thing now. She was living the life she never got too all those years ago. Well, at least, that’s what she said. Besides, didn’t she deserve that? And, really wasn’t I old enough to figure out my own dilemmas by now? Mama didn’t raise no fool. It was time to woman up – or find a new mom.
I wasn’t sure which task was more daunting.
I considered adult adoption, but that seemed a little extreme. I mean, there didn’t seem to be any shortage of little kids to adopt – domestic or international. We’ve all seen the Jolie-Pitt clan, which gave me the brilliant idea to try a kid on for myself. I became a Big Sister to 9-year-old C. Our relationship lasted as long as any one of Taylor Swifts – not by my choice, however. As our relationship began to flourish, C’s dad was released from prison and kicked me out of her life. I’ve seen enough Dateline to know it’s best to respect an ex-felon’s wishes. So again, I was left teetering on the fickle line of womanhood and substitutions.
I called in some of the greatest – and some of the not so great – to try on my mom’s mom jeans. There was my older sister, who has the emotional sensitivity of a chair, tell me to, “Suck it up, you pussy.” I’ve always thought of myself as a delicate flower, like a cherry blossom, lily, or orchid, but pussy willow never crossed my mind. There was my aunt, who opened her home and fed me meals beautiful enough to grace the cover of Food & Wine. Nourishing my body with such beauty made me feel like I could spew it back out there. There was the entrepreneur, 17 years my senior, who fed me espresso martinis until the wee hours of the morning, until one morning involved a hangover and a morning after pill. And, there was my cousin, who’s saturated with motherly instinct and made certain I was never alone on holidays – including romantic ones like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve – and smothered me with chocolate hearts and midnight kisses. Now, who says being single isn’t sweet?
But either way, both you and I know, substitutions are just that: substitutions. I mean, there aren’t replacements for cheese, falling in love for the very first time, bear hugs, or moms. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying substitutions aren’t working for me – they are. It’s just that it’s time I stand on my own.
I’ve been with myself long enough to know myself better than anyone – even my mom. I can make my own decisions. And, in a way I’ve been semi-independent all along. The shoes on my feet? I bought ‘em. The clothes I’m wearing? I bought ‘em. The watch I’m wearing? I bought it. The house I live in? I bought it. The car I’m driving in? I bought it. Destiny’s Child isn’t the only one who can get down like that.
So yeah, I’ve got a handle on part of the whole adulthood thing. The emotional part just needs a little fine tuning. But, come on, is that part ever really done? I argue it’s not. And, you know what, I’m okay with that because everyone needs support. Just like Dolly Parton’s breasts.