I don’t know if anyone else was a total a-hole to their mom for nearly two decades, but I sure was. I thought I was improving (in general). Then today, on what I was certain was my sister’s birthday, in my frantic rush this morning I tell Siri to text Kim and “Happy birthday to the best sister ever!” and she texts me back, “Thanks! I AM awesome, but it’s not my birthday. It’s mom’s.”
Shit shit shit.
Ok. Sibling birthdays. I don’t stress about being on top of them like I would about an in-law or parent. Sometimes I don’t get the boys anything at all. They don’t even notice (I don’t think.) I have every intention of getting to the post office this week to mail my sister some vials of liquid nicotine and a charger so she may join the ranks of ecig freaks like myself. “Happy Birthday, addict, now I don’t feel so bad.” HOWEVER, I hadn’t yet decided on a gift for mom, but I figured her birthday was on the 26th, so I had a few extra days to find something special/make something adorable for her- before I had to get to the post office to mail it. Not so. Her birthday was TODAY. Not in five days. Today.
(Kim, I’m hoping to get to the post office on Thursday.)
Anyhow, I thought I was done being an a-hole to my mother, but I guess I don’t even mean to do it half the time. Wah waaaah.
So let’s talk about mom. Here we are looking gorgeous in 1999 or something.
I think I was about 11 or 12 when I told my mom “You’re no Donna Reed” or something like that – criticizing her mothering skillz. I don’t think I smiled at her from that point until I was probably 26 or 27, depending on how drunk I was, what moron I was dating at the time, or how much said moron was annoying me.
Bottom line is, for most of my life, I was convinced that my mom had no idea what she was doing. I pretty much thought she was just here to boss me around, hug me when I cried over idiotic things, and send me $20 when I was short on cash in the late nineties – two-thousand-now (often). Now you see where I was/am an a-hole. I was SO. WRONG.
I spat out a kid and as he grows and does things that are increasingly more annoying, I’m constantly thinking - OMG HOW DID SHE DO IT. Mom had me, then 18 months later Eric, then 2 years after that Brett, then two years after THAT, Kim. Apparently in those days she was either a glutton for punishment or there wasn’t BC readily available. She wound up with a “Simon Party of 6″….
by the time I was 6 years old. I cannot fathom how she did it- mostly because my dad was working. And by working, I mean never home. Such is the life of a med student/resident/eventual surgeon. People don’t schedule when they’re going to break ankles, it just happens.
I remember laughing with her a lot as a kid (begrudgingly so at times) and I also remember she can do the perfect Woody Woodpecker laugh and whistle through her curled tongue. She taught us how to remember our phone number by making it into a song I can still sing. She taught me how to read when I was three. (Note: my own son – age 3 and a half – is nowhere near learning how to read.)
I remember her lamenting the time we all had chicken pox at once, or when Eric brought head lice home from school. She would FREAK OUT thinking back about the Christmas that we all had the stomach flu. As she remembered those incidents aloud, I used to think, “Man, it was just the flu, I can’t believe she was so freaked out about it.” Then I probably guzzled my wine and glared at my old boyfriend.
But now. Now that I’m a parent I think, “WHAT A FREAKING NIGHTMARE THAT MUST HAVE BEEN!” Only I was there. And it wasn’t bad in my memory because she he
ld us, she took care of us. She didn’t make me feel like it was so awful AT THE TIME. So for years I thought she was over-reacting or perhaps over imagining the past horror of it all. But now, I’m 34. Now, the stomach flu and inclement weather are two of my biggest fears.
So really, I’ve turned into my mother in that I’m terrified of a similar thing happening to us. I never used to care about slippery roads or icy conditions. Now? I’m paralyzed with fear at the first dusting of snow and I need to drive anywhere.
I’ve turned into my mother in that I sing constantly with Simon and I will continue to do so until he rolls his eyes at me and tells me “You’re no so-and-so (insert name of popular television mom who’s perfect)” I don’t know how I’ll handle my own child being an a-hole to me, but I know it’s coming. I hope I don’t have to endure it for as long as my mom did. At least I know he’ll remember my birthday because it’s the day before his.
I’m not a great mom. But I’m a GOOD mom because my mom taught me how to be one. And I am thankful all the time for that. And I feel like a jerk for spending a good 15 years not realizing how much she taught me without even meaning to.
There are times now, usually when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, when I think to myself that the next time I see my mom, I’m going to hug her more. We just get busy. We don’t hug enough. And though she and I are very very different in a million ways, we are very very similar in others. And I don’t mind it nearly as much as I thought I would.
I could try to list all the times my mom has done awesome things for me and it would take too long. Or, more likely, I would forget something and feel bad about it. Or, I would remember too much and feel bad about THAT. So because I have inherited the guilty conscience, I will just share some thoughts and pictures with you- and acknowledge that I have been a pretty crappy daughter for most of my life. I think she forgives me though, because I call her the most now (or at least more than Brett does). So happy birthday mom. You’re the best. I love you.