My mother and I had a scratchy, fractious relationship, even though we loved each other fiercely. Not all the time, of course, but often enough for my lovely dad to call us on it. You’re exasperating, he’d say to the crabby pair of us. Of course, my mother took umbrage, wanting my father to take her side against me. He often did; to keep the peace he’d whisper to me and roll his eyes.

A lot of the peevishness came from me. I’d deflect the direction we were going in when I felt I wasn’t being heard, or that my mother was winning the argument. One of my tricks was to switch things up with a bit of guilting. During an arbitrary argument or peppery disagreement, for example, I would suddenly blame my mother for my inability to breathe “like a normal person”, accusing her of causing my life-threatening asthma.

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