Notes from The Ten Commandments According to Mom:
Ah, so I’m dying to submit my writing for this;
THINGS I’D NEVER Tell My Mother. Seeking first-person, nonfiction essays exploring actions, thoughts, or feelings you would never share with your mother. Can be from childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. Humorous to heartbreaking. We especially need humor writing (crazy, funny things you did and laugh about now), dangerous activities (driving the car before you had a license, breaking the law), sexual encounters (losing virginity, rape, incest), secrets about other family members (attempted suicides, sexual orientation, abortions). Relate to specific incidents. The author may use a pseudonym. Maximum: 5,000 words. Include cover letter with bio and SASE. Deadline: February 29. Send to: Editors, Things I’d Never Tell My Mother, P.O. Box 7231, Norfolk, VA 23509
It’s not a contest, but it does sound like they’re putting some sort of anthology of shorts together. That would be awesome.
So, my idea is called “The Ten Commandments According to Mom.” Here are my notes so far:
This one time, my sisters staged a walk-out in protest of my mother’s fascist regime. Belle ran away the last week of February, and then Alys followed the week after.
There are Ten Commandments according to my mother:
1. I am the Lord your mother, who brought you out of my uterus and into slavery. Obey.
2. You shall not have any other gods before Me. You shall never be idle.
3. You shall make no wrongful use of my name. I know when you’re talking about me behind my back and I will beat you.
4. Remember the Sabbath day? You don’t get one.
5 Honor your father and your mother. Not in that order.
6. You shall obey or be murdered.
7. You shall have no love life to speak of. Love no one but me. Loathe no one but me.
8. You shall steal if I tell you to.
9. You shall bear false witness when I make you.
10. You shall not covet anything you want or need, especially things in the neighbor’s house, because we cannot afford them.
Because of all the lies my mother forced me to tell, she will never know. She will never know…where I live. She won’t know that I got married. She won’t know when I’m pregnant with her first grandchild. She won’t know when I’m giving birth to my last child. That I have been married a year. That I converted to Judaism. That I married a rabbi. .And more importantly, my mother won’t even know my name. Because I changed it. And I didn’t tell her that either.
When my mom entered a room, the room trembled. We would cuddled up together, readying ourselves for we knew her plan of attack was always: divide and conquer.
At three years old my mother beat me with her hands. Apparently I had taken to the habit of pulling everything out of all the drawers in the house. And then I would play with all the delightful things I’d found. You know, I was trying to assert my self as a three year old. My mother beat me so hard, that my father found me in shock, covered in bruises and sobbing. At least, that’s the way my mother tells the story. My father told her that she was never to hit me again. So, she didn’t. When he was looking.
My mother doesn’t know where I live. In fact, I’ve been withholding that information from my mother for ten years. The last time my mother knew where I was living was 10 years ago, the day before I ran away from home. See I picked up all my stuff on the last day of my senior year and never came back home. I wonder if most runaways leave a note. I didn’t. I wanted to be untraceable.
I’m not a member of the Witness protection program. Although, if you knew my mother, you’d wonder why I Wasn’t.
My mother was a weapons expert. She could wield knives, telephone cords, telephones, brooms, poles, belts, wet towels, heels, sneakers, and chancletas (ask your Hispanic friends about this little slipper’s special place in the world) with unfathomable dexterity. When nothing was available, she used her hands. When that wasn’t enough, she used words and pet names. My pet name was “hija de la gran puta” (daughter of the grand slut). When I told my mother that this meant, she was the slut, she got this terrible look on her face. I didn’t know what happened afterwards because I ran out of the room so fast, I probably gave her whiplash. My sister, Belle’s pet name was “hija del Diablo” and my mother said the proof of this was that there were at least two sixes on the back of my sister’s skull. Alys was spared a nickname because my mother preferred to throw her against a wall like a rag doll when Alys got in her way. Splat.
When people tell me that your mother is always your mother or that my mother and I will reconcile, I ask them how they feel about theirs. Generally, they can go for hours talking about what an amazing role model their mother was or that even if she ever took out the belt on them, it was for their own good. When they’ve got a glazed look over their face, I tell them about my mother’s ten commandments. If looks could kill, the horror that registers on their face might cause them heart palpitations. My husband talks to his mother and father several times a day. When his mother calls me like that, I think she’s being weird. I don’t know what you all feel like. How you love your mothers. How you wouldn’t be who you are now without her love and support. I am who I am because of her utter negligence, the manner of her torture, the mental illness that warped her mind. I stopped loving my mother when I was seven years old. I can remember that day like it was yesterday. People tell me that I’m missing out and they tell me they feel sorry for me. I would feel sorry for myself too but I don’t know what I missed.