I was born with Asperger’s so I had markedly different ideas and behaviours from the average girl, and definitely from my mother and father.
In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger’s Teen, I talk a lot about the lack of relationship between myself and my parents. That sense of disconnection, the feeling that I was some sort of interloper.
At the time, in my teens, I thought Mom’s ideal daughter would have enjoyed sewing, crocheting, baking bread with her, and sharing her enthusiasm for Woman’s Day magazine. I was into classical music, movies like Lawrence of Arabia, poetry, Shakespeare and boys.
Was I right about Mom? I’m not so sure.
My mother’s house was always dusty, rather untidy. She went out to work, you see, when few mothers did, straining in the steaming heat of the Empress Laundry or cleaning low-rent motel rooms.
Once you’ve been out to work, you’ll never want to stay home again, she told me in a rare moment of mother-daughter confidence.
And of course the housework had to be done by someone. And as the eldest daughter by nearly eight years, naturally that lot fell to me and to my grandmother. I talk about that in Unforgiving, too. About how I just took these duties for granted.
What did Mom want? Just a daughter who didn’t talk so loud? Who didn’t speak out of turn? Who could get a job and keep it?
The truth is, I will never know. Relationships are complicated.
Deeper into my adulthood, Mom and I came a little closer. When she got Alzheimer’s? After Dad died she came to live with us.
Goodnight, Mom, she’d say as I tucked her into bed.
She had forgotten I was her daughter. All she knew was that I was someone who lovingly tucked her in at night.
Maybe that’s all we needed to know about each other.