My mother has anger management problems. This isn't news, especially to me as I've been subjected to errant slaps and outbursts for as long as I can remember. In my younger years I just assumed I wasn't the daughter she wanted. In my teens I thought she was simply the victim of her own abusive childhood. Her story has changed so many times I might never know the truth. The only thing I knew for sure was that I never wanted to be like her.

I remember crying into my pillowcase at night, swearing I'd dance on her grave when she died. I remember promising myself that when I got married I'd move far away so she'd never get her hands on my children. So she couldn't warp them the way she had me.

I remember a night two years ago when I hit back. There's only so much a person can take, I tell myself. I was within my rights to stand up for myself after 23 years of this, I remind myself. Yet I've always felt guilty for it. Because a daughter should never hit her mother. Even if it was just in the arm.

I think she was more shocked at my promise to do it again if she ever laid a hand on me again, than she was at the physical contact itself.

Last night I looked at my mother as she told me about a situation at work and was struck by how self righteous she was. She was being unfairly accused of things by some younger coworkers, but she was making all the wrong decisions in how to handle it. She'd said things she shouldn't have to her boss, because she's been there longer and has earned the right to speak her mind she thinks.

I leaned against the door frame, lit by a lamp next to me, and I listened to her. And when she was done I counselled her as I would a friend. As friends have done for me. She listened to me silently but I could see her anger in the rapid bouncing of her crossed leg. How dare you not agree with me! it seemed to scream.

This morning I overheard her telling a coworker on the phone how I'd helped her last night. How she could feel herself being much more balanced today. That she finally figured out why they'd sent me to college.

Last night my mother was telling anyone who would listen how angry she was. Right now my mother is downstairs with the radio blaring, singing "I wanna hold your hand!" at the top of her lungs.

This morning my mother vacuumed the dog with a hand-vac. Times, they are a changin'.