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I can remember the exact moment in my childhood when I decided my mother was not my role model. It was the day I invited her to my elementary school field day, and she actually showed up. I couldn’t believe it. Still, I was eager to show her I was worthy of her time and her attention.
I performed well in the 100-yard dash and sprinted over to see if she watched me. Instead of talking about my performance, she told me she and her friend noticed a boy had been watching me, loudly announcing that he probably thought I was cute. I was in the third grade and couldn’t have cared less. So I sauntered away, swallowing the hot tears from realization that a doting mom wasn’t going to be part of my reality.
My mom—my vain, self-centered, dismissive and hostile mom—was my reality. She was firmly planted in my life, but it never felt like she wanted to be there. Other things and people were consistently prioritized over me: the countless men who I was expected to respect, the friends who proved to be as flighty and irresponsible as she was and the late nights out where she dragged me along. I fell asleep as often in restaurant booths and her friends’ couches as I did in my own bed on school nights.
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