The next morning—a Saturday, her first in her new/our old home—my new mom backed me alone into a corner of my bedroom. With her nose inches from mine, she spoke in a voice kept low, but infused with a kind of feral menace I’d never before heard in an adult.
“I want you to listen to me, John. You and your sister mean absolutely nothing to me. The only thing the three of us have in common is your father. I never wanted a family; I never wanted children. I’m here for two reasons only: because I love your father, and I love this house. This house is worth something—and in ten years, it’ll be worth more. Just like your sister, you’re welcome to stay in this house until you’re eighteen. But not a day after that. And while you live here, you need to make sure this house—my house—doesn’t deteriorate in value.”
She shot a look at the posters on my wall—a Sierra Club poster of some pretty woods that said, “In Wildness is the Preservation of the Earth,” a poster of the text of “Desiderata,” a hippie-style black light poster of Buddha, and so on.
“Those come down today,” she said. “I don’t want you to put anything on these walls again. The tack holes detract from the value of the house.” She glared hard at me. I was terrified she was going to bite me. God knows she had the choppers for it.
“Do we understand each other?” she asked.
I think I managed to nod yes. I’m not entirely sure I didn’t pee my pants.
And then “Mom” was gone—off, I assumed, to clue my sister into Our New Reality.
And it was just after she left me again alone in my room that I discovered what in a million years I wouldn’t have thought possible: I could miss my real mom even more.
[The follow-up to this post is, “The Return of Mom 1.0”]