Growing up, my siblings and I were left on our own to figure out how things worked. I learned what a condom was from the dictionary. I studied the secrets of applying lipstick and eyeshadow from Seventeen, and figured out how to ride the bus from our house to the mall. I read our dusty copy of Martha Stewart’s Christmas over and over, hoping to make those gold leaf gingerbread houses someday, somewhere.
I was desperate to learn how to live, how to make a life under the weight of the knowledge my mother tried to slough off—the missing history of her mother, the unhappiness of my parents’ marriage, the family stories she held so tightly to herself, to us.
“I don't know how to be a mom,” she wept to me, “so I have no idea of who I am supposed to be.”
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