Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Becoming My Mother
Growing up my sister and I were lucky enough to have an elementary school teacher for a Mom. Some people wouldn't know what's so special about that, but those who have had the experience know exactly what I mean. Our days were virtual classrooms and filled with crafts, plays, books, different activities for different days of the week, for different months, for every season, and so many songs. Oh, the songs! We had a little diddy for absolutely everything- bed time, teeth brushing time, clean up time, you name it.
I have very vivid memories of every kind of moment with my Mom- some simple things, like sitting with her at Island Beach State Park, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, careful not to let the breeze blow sand into the strawberry preserves. Funny things- like when she visited me up at college and we got a little tipsy, my Dad driving us all the way back to their hotel with her singing Bruce Springsteen's "Jersey Girl" out the window. Or that time when we were so bundled up we could barely move, let alone run a few miles in the middle of a Wyoming snowstorm two weeks before my wedding because I just had to stick to my workout regime. I remember more complicated things too- many of them- like that one time in high school I knew I really, really disappointed her, and the way it felt to see her cry, my too-cool-for-anything teenage heart breaking at the sight of her tears. Most memories are happy though, like the pb&j on the beach, or baking a million cookies at Christmas, or being so little and hearing the sound of her favorite songs wafting up through the house on Saturdays, straight from the 8-track player downstairs.
There are so many times now where I'll catch myself doing something that is 100% my Mom. I'll be cooking dinner and find myself singing a silly, made-up song under my breath, "yeah, put in that pepper and stir, stir, stir- mix up good, oh yeah, yeah, yeah," and I'll stop for a moment and think "oh my god, I am my mother." I'll be at the grocery store and be in the middle of a five minute conversation with the cashier, and think back to my eye-rolling teenage self, mortified that my mother just had to talk to everyone. It's how I always have to say "I love you, bye" when hanging up the phone, the way I call Henry's feet his tootsies, the big deal I make over every holiday, and the "good morning to you" song whenever I come into H.'s room at 7am. I'll catch myself tapping my hands on the steering wheel in the exact way that would annoy me to no end back in the day and I'll think "I am my mother." It's bizarre.
It's all of the little things, the everyday things, that remind me so much of her. And it's pretty crazy to now have a son of my own, and to understand what hard work she and my Dad put in over all of those years to have both my sister and I look back and say, without a doubt, that we loved our childhood so, so much. I get now why she and my father were so protective and I understand why they made the choices they made. Isn't perspective amazing? There were quite a few years growing up where the last thing I wanted to be was anything like my parents (those jerky people who enforced too many rules and took away all my fun!), but now, I wear the "I am becoming my Mother" badge with honor. I couldn't be prouder to share so many qualities with the best woman I know, and now every time a silly little song comes into my mind, or I find myself small-talking with a stranger, or eating dark chocolate before I go to bed I smile, because I know exactly where that comes from.