Fiction: A Mother’s Love

By Kat Gál

Raindrops are dripping down on the window of the train. My shoes are soaked. Good thing I was prepared to wear an old pair I am not taking with me. I will change at the airport. I am still ashamed about what happened last time, but I try not to think about it. It won’t happen again. I won’t eat until I arrive at JFK. 
My mother is quite engrossed in her laptop looking at some graphs and taking notes. I don’t mind not talking to her. Moving to the US alone is a big deal of course, but she is acting like it’s not. Years of moving around, international schooling, service trips, language courses, and vacations have prepared me for this. Besides, it is not a foreign country. I was born in the US,  lived there as a small child, and for a year in high school too. We have visited and traveled across the US many times, even Upstate won’t be new. Of course, I haven’t been to this particular town, only Niagara Falls, Watkins Glen, and Lake George. ‘It will be like an extended summer trip’, said mom, who sent me for language courses, camps, and other trips every summer since I was a kid. Except it won’t be summer and there won’t be a camp counselor to watch every step of mine. It’s a good thing, I am an adult now and I can’t wait to have freedom. But it bothers me that she doesn’t care.
Most parents are worried about their kids. Mom never was. I guess she always treated me like a mini adult. Not a friend by any means, not even an equal partner, but someone who is independent, mature, and responsible for themselves. She had high expectations: getting good grades, excelling at extracurriculars, building my resume since elementary school, being academic, volunteering, keeping my room tidy, taking care of housework, and cooking at home… and being thin, just like she was. But she has always trusted my independence and decisions. 
I was never a trouble-child really. There are things she doesn’t know. She probably knows I had some dates, but she has no idea I had flings, I’ve had sex, and I still haven’t told her about dates. She doesn’t know I’ve smoked pot and I drink alcohol at parties. She doesn’t know about strip poker and skinny dipping either. She doesn’t know my wild side. Maybe she does, she just doesn’t want to know. Maybe she thinks I am a saint. Maybe she thinks that I am wilder than she was. I will never know. She has never asked, I’ve never shared. I have always appreciated my independence and privacy, yet deep inside it still hurts she doesn’t show interest. She doesn’t care and doesn’t worry.
As long as my grades are up and my weight is down, she is happy. Other mothers love you through food. My mother loves me by counting my calories and commenting on my weight. She believes thin women are better than others. It shows self-discipline, she thinks. I know it’s bullshit. But I want her to love me.
My grades, my resume, and my future career. I can’t even think about it. I want to live life. I will hang out at college and am sure I will find a major. I am sure I will have a job. That’s how I’ve always pictured it, but what and how… I can’t be bothered. Finally, college, on my own… and soon living with Dave. I’ve always felt like I was an old soul, a more mature, older person in a younger body. Now I am ready. College will be great.
Yet mom is just staring at her laptop and doesn’t care. Finally, she opens her mouth:
‘You have everything, right?’
‘I can mail stuff after you but not until late September, because…’
‘I have everything’, I interrupt her and roll my eyes.
‘I won’t be able to stay at the airport. I have a meeting at ten. You will be okay, right?’
‘Mom, this is not my first time flying. Just help me with the bag with check-in. Or I can push a cart. Whatever.’
We don’t speak any more until we arrive at the airport. I check in quietly, this time with my American passport. No stamps are waiting for me at the other side of the ocean I bet… I get my tickets and it’s time for goodbyes. We never do big goodbyes and even if it is a new and long adventure, not a short trip, I bet she doesn’t care to have an emotional scene.
‘Bye mom.’
‘You will do great Alex. Text me when you get there. We will skype. And you will be back for Christmas’, no, I won’t. I think. I will be with Dave and she will pick up a new guy by then. But I bite my lips and give her a small smile instead.‘Maybe I can visit too. Make sure to study hard and run fast. And please join the international club, and the debate team, and the business club…’
‘Mom, I will be okay.’
‘I know.’
‘I should go in.’, I give her a quick hug and proceed towards security. 
‘Wait, Alex’, she stops me and gives me one more hug, ‘Go get them, honey.’
‘I will. Bye mom.’
‘Bye… and Alex… I am glad you’ve lost some weight,  you look great and it will help your running.’
‘Thanks, mom’, I smile. It’s a true smile for once. She’d noticed. She almost loves me.

Kat Gál is a writer, runner, traveler, bookworm, and cat-lover. Kat is also a freelance health writer creating online and offline content for functional medicine doctors and enjoys creative writing in her free time.