Moms Rule

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Brie and Trish sit drinking Lillet over ice underneath a star-woven sky. Alaska is inside enforcing Chip's new dishwashing responsibilities. For the first time in a long time, Brie enjoyed family dinner tonight. It's funny, the whole drive here she was amped to announce her new post at work and present it as undeniable evidence of her success. But she realizes now, basking in the lunar light with her mother by her side, that she forgot to say anything. Which means at no point did she feel judged, threatened, or inferior to Alaska as her sister detailed all the ways in which her young life is exploding at awesome intellectual velocities. The only feelings Brie recalls from dinner are pride, nostalgia brought about by her mother's apricot roast chicken, and gratitude for her stable, middle-class upbringing.

A fountain that Trish made recently in a sculpting class gurgles behind them, lending a cleansing sense to the air. Something about seeing the sameness of hers and Trish's feet makes Brie say, "I think I'm in love with a man who is weaker than me." She looks over at Trish. "Do you think that's a bad thing?"

Trish turns her head to her daughter and laughs.

Brie frowns. "What's funny?"

Her mother looks back up at the stars. "Oh I was just trying to think how old I was when I finally figured out that I was the strong one. That, in fact, all men are weak." She takes a sip and savors the taste on her lips. "I guess I was well into motherhood. That's when you really figure out what you're made of."

"Then why is he the boss?" Brie demands. "Why did his opinion always trump yours? Why did we tiptoe around his moods all the time?"

Trish is laughing again.

"Tell me!"

"Oh Brie," Trish snorts. "I don't know, it's just how things are. Men are babies! They can only focus on one thing at a time, they get upset easily, they need constant reassurance, they're incapable of doing anything on their own. Yet boys are raised to believe they're superior, especially the boys of your father's generation. To criticize them is to activate their defenses, which is never fun. So I swallowed my objections to keep the peace, for all of our sakes, and after a while I guess you just are what you do. Didn't help that he made all the money." Trish stretches her feet long and yawns. "But even with that, it's still mystifying that it's a man's world when we're the ones who do everything. That they're considered the strong ones when it's really us women propping them up."

Brie clinks the ice in her cup. "Such bullshit."

"That's what your sister says! But don't listen to me, and don't listen to Alaska with her 20-year emasculation program. You've got to decide for yourself what kind of woman you are in a relationship, and which aspects of a man, or anyone for that matter who you're willing to experience up close for the rest of your life, is acceptable. Because if that's not your mindset, for the rest of your life, then I don't think you should get married. Marriages are much more difficult to get out of. That's the point, it's a commitment. But it's worth it. It really is. There will be veins of shit intertwined with veins of gold, but if you love him, there will be more gold than shit. No one is perfect, Brie. If you're waiting for the perfect man, you'll die alone. If you love this guy, your love will make him strong. That's the great unsung power of women. Our love gives people strength."

Brie takes her mother's hand. "Thanks, Mom. That was dope-ass and wise."

Trish brings Brie's hand to her mouth and kisses it. "I wish you nothing but happiness and love."

A peaceful, easy silence passes.

"And grandchildren."

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