Melanée Addison’s Mom Knows Her Best


♪ This is a sweet victory after a long, hard-fought
battle. You see, I’m the youngest
of four children by ten years, otherwise known as “whoops.” (laughter) But more commonly referred to
as the baby of the family. And after about
30 straight years of doing so, about the time I hit puberty, it was becoming
really obvious to me that my mother
was quickly tiring of this child-raising gig. And throughout my adolescence, I would often hear
the familiar sound bite: “I can’t wait until
you get grown and get a place of your own. Then you’ll know
what it feels like.” Now, granted,
she would often be saying this
while picking up my items carelessly
strewn about the house or opening up
the refrigerator to find the milk and juice
containers empty… But most definitely
every time there was an unexpected spike
in our phone bill. Nevertheless, in my mind,
the expectation was set. As my siblings had all
left the house at 18, to either join the service
or get married, at 18, I too
would be on my own. And so, when
that time arrived, I had gotten a decent job,
built up some savings, and approached my mother
with an ad for an apartment. Now, to my surprise, she completely does
an about face and tries to convince me
that I really am not just quite ready
to face the world on my own. Well, not only is this a
challenge to my young adult ego, but she had been
unwittingly sowing these seeds of independence
in me for so long that they had
already sprouted, and I was determined to
continue my quest for freedom. My own promised land. A place where I
no longer had to hear how money
didn’t grow on trees. Or hide in the closet
late at night to have secret phone conversations
with my boyfriend. But, best of all,
with my own place, I could come and go
as I pleased, no curfew. So, I would find
these adorable apartments and excitedly bring
my mother to see them, only to have her go at it
with these landlords– “slumlords,”
she would call them– with a slew of complaints. Like for instance,
the lone hairline crack in the misaligned tile
behind the bathroom door. (laughter) Or the insufficient
water pressure, and let’s not forget
the mysterious drafts due to lack of insulation
that no one else felt. And, needless to say,
my mother and I would be promptly sent
on our way with my
fully returned deposit. But after a while
I began to catch on and the last place
I showed her was with a signed lease
already in hand. So now I’m on my own and I am determined
to prove to my mother that I truly am
a competent and capable adult. So that year, I insist on making the Thanksgiving turkey. Now, in our family, Thanksgiving is
my mother’s full domain, and God forbid anybody try
to encroach on that territory. But, after
a few moments of hesitation, to my surprise, she agreed, and then proceeded to
bombard me with phone calls, asking do I know the
right-sized turkey to get? Am I using all the correct
spices and seasonings? Am I allowing enough time for the turkey to thaw
before cooking? And finally, frustrated,
I say to her, “Mom, enough, I’m an adult now,
I’m not a child. I know how to make a turkey.” I mean, I’d spent years watching her make
the Thanksgiving turkey, and even on some occasions,
unwillingly recruited to help. So I knew what I was doing. And, as expected, when I pulled
my turkey from the oven, it had a
beautiful golden brown skin that would rival my mother’s. And so, on Thanksgiving day,
I walk into her apartment proudly, regally cradling
my beautiful creation as if a newborn and purposely ignoring all the nervous glances
being cast in my direction. I, with great fanfare, ceremoniously placed
my beautiful bird in the center of the table. So now we’re all gathered
around the table, and after grace, my brother
proceeds to carve the turkey. And as I proudly look on as he delves the knife
deep into my masterpiece, red bloody juices… (laughter)
…start to flop. And everyone stares, stunned,
as their Thanksgiving feast is now an array of sides and
some cornbread. (laughter) And as I’m watching
the bloody juices pool into
the bottom of the platter, I can’t help but feel
betrayed by my bird. My beautiful bird, that I spent hours massaging,
caressing, cajoling with-with visions
of Thanksgiving victory. I can’t even bear
to look at my mother, and so instead
I just fixate on the ever-growing
pool of blood. Eventually my mother gets up,
and she goes into the kitchen and she returns
back into the dining area with a beautiful
brown bird of her own. (laughter) Like, where did she get this? Like, out of nowhere! And, to spite me, everyone breaks out
in loud cheers and applause. (laughter) And as I’m sitting there
quietly, watching my undone bloody bird being unceremoniously ousted
from its place of honor, two things hit me. Number one, my mother’s
words from adolescence echo back to me. And for the first time, I think I really do know
what it feels like. But secondly,
and most importantly, I am humbled by
the very adult realization that sometimes
independence means knowing how and when
to be dependent. Thank you. (applause) What a good way to start off
on my journey of independence–

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