This week has been a bear. I've been behind on work, getting slammed with "to-do" lists and trying to get everything done in time for Sean's birthday. I ran errands, I bought and wrapped all the presents and I even made him a special Minecraft birthday cake that literally took me all day and then some. Coincidentally he also picked this week to become the biggest almost-eleven year old turd you've ever seen. I'm pretty sure I threatened to cancel his birthday at least three times. Of course I didn't cancel it. He's my baby and I would do anything for either of my boys (except make a Minecraft cake ever again). But I'll be damned if I can't wait till they figure out the wisdom in behaving before an upcoming birthday. Or Christmas. Or Mother's Day.
Of course you know that I was an angel as a child, right? That I was so well behaved as to never stress my mother out? That I brought only joy and laughter and fulfillment to her life? Yeah, not so much. I'm assuming that what I am experiencing with my own children can only be the ultimate act of motherly revenge: Childhood Karma. But at least I was cute, right? How could you not love me?
When I was a toddler I was the first to invent the "trust fall". And by trust fall I mean falling stiff as a board on to my face every time I was told no. Every time. My mom would just ignore my tantrum and step right over me and go about her business. I guess maybe she got concerned the time I finally lifted my head to look up at her and she saw blood streaming down my face from my nose. I know I'd be concerned - blood is incredibly hard to get out of the carpet!
As I got a little older she developed to new tactic every time I got angry with her or didn't get my way. She'd calmly look at me and begin to sing with her sweet, soothing voice. It's a song that, as an adult, I logically realize is one of Joe Cocker's best songs displaying such beautiful intimacy. But still to this day every time I hear You Are So Beautiful I have an immediate visceral and negative reaction akin to shock therapy. I can't listen to it. I just can't.
If you recall from a previous post about my childhood vulnerabilities my mother is quite young. She still jokes that she and I will eventually be the same age. It won't really matter when I'm 75 and she's 91 as long as we have someone to wipe our asses, right? Since she was so young and I was born before the age of "political correctness" she maybe hasn't always said the most motherly things. I still laugh every time I think of her trying to correct my speech impediment, though. She swears that it never happened but I'm quite certain my five year old self did NOT make this up. It was the Summer before I was to start kindergarten and I couldn't say my R's. She tried to help me. "Say rrrrrrrrabbit." "rrrrrrrrrrrrrrWabbit." "Say Rrrrrrrrrrrobert." "RrrrrrrrrrWobert." This went on and on till one day, as I stood next to her in the laundry room watching her pull clothes out of the dryer and I tried to say my R's she told me if I didn't figure out how to say them correctly before kindergarten started I would have to ride the short bus to school. I had it figured out in a week.
Since she was so young we were often more like friends than mother/daughter. At least in my eyes. Until I hit my teenage years of course. She was trying to lay down the law with me one day and I wasn't having any of it. I was a pretty good kid that got my way most of the time because I didn't cause any trouble (other than with my mouth) but I must have done something to trigger her parental side that day. When she was done talking I held up my chin, looked her straight in the eye and said, "Why are you trying to be a mom now after all these years?" Honestly, I knew the second those words left my mouth that I wanted them back. If only I could grab them and shove them back in. The look on her face confirmed this, of course, but I kept my pride, tossed my hair and turned to walk away from her. That was my mistake. If ever you should think of saying something like that to your mother don't turn your back, whatever you do. Back away slowly and calmly, never forgetting your mother's ninja moves. She hauled up her foot and kicked me right in the ass, Chuck Norris style, as I walked away. God, I deserved it.
I tried unsuccessfully for years to get her to pay me for good grades. "Why should I pay you for something you care more about than me?" When I wanted to get my ears double pierced she said, "Absolutely not!" (And then she went and got a tattoo years and years later.) As a single mom she worked hard all day just to come home to me where I would inevitably tell her how bored I was and that she should take me somewhere. I got this: "I'm not your cruise director." I'm still a little upset that I'm unable to use this one on my own Love Boat-deprived children. I can, however, use this oldie but goody as much as I like for my own amusement.
I have forgiven her for the first mullet I ever got. And for making me do my impersonations of Miss Piggy's karate chop or Clyde, the orangutan from Every Which Way But Loose, for her friends. And for those vacation pictures taken of me in said mullet, a striped tube top and white culottes.
My mother is one of the smartest, funniest women I know. She's rarely, if ever, wrong. She's my hero for raising me on her own and with her sanity mostly intact, even. She's also one of my best friends. I still do everything she tells me to, whether it's a career choice or a book club selection. If she told me to do it must be right.
As I think about my own children on this Mother's Day weekend I realize they aren't perfect. But they are mine and they are beautiful. They are smart and strong, full of humor and sass and energy. I would do anything for them in the world, including give my own life, because they are worthy of being here just as they are. I love them with my whole entire being, even on those days that I struggle with liking them a whole lot. And knowing how I feel about them gives me a glimpse of how I'm sure my mother feels about me. Of how all mothers feel about their children.
So on this Mother's Day, as you think about how much your mother and your children are worthy of your love, perhaps realize that you need that same amount of love from yourself. Remember how worthy YOU are, despite whatever imperfections you may have. After all, your mother is never wrong.
I love you, mom.