Mother’s Day – Out
Someone asked me the other day if we had special plans for Mother’s Day. I put my hands on her shoulders to pull her in closely, and whispered into one ear, “I’m hoping to spend it without my children.”
It’s my own kind of Mother’s Day Out plan.
I thought she would find it amusing because she has twins in elementary school plus a new baby that’s in the crawl around and get into everything stage, plus, she works full-time.
I expected her to laugh, except she must have misheard me and thought I said, “I was hoping to spend the day without chocolate,” because she responded to my television sitcom sense of humor with, “Not even just a little piece?”
Not even just a little piece.
When I was almost 16-years-old, my mother, who had me when she was barely 16-years-old, used to drive me to high school in a red Vega with a black pin stripe down the side. We drove past all of the beautiful homes that people owned and I sat in my seat and in judgement of her life and her choices and I thought she was weak.
I stared out the window thinking unspeakable things like, I hate you.
Things I would never say out loud, but only thought, as young girls who know everything tend to do.
We weren’t allowed to actually say those words in our home growing up. She preferred us to say, “strongly dislike,” because hate is such a nasty word.
I spoke the words, out loud once when we lived in Wahkonsa Village. I was vacuuming the stairs, the way the oldest and most Cinderella-like child often had to do. I was also supposed to be memorizing the Act of Contrition.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because of thy just punishment, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God , who art all good and deserving of all my love.
To this day, I detest both the words, thy and thee.
And not caring that I offended God or my mother, I stubbornly and boldly proclaimed out loud, “I hate you.”
It was the 1970’s and parenting rules were different then. I did not ever say it again, out loud anyway. Only thoughtfully, in my head, while I stared out the window on those long, silent, teenage rides to school.
I spent those years I think, strongly disliking my mother because she was so ridiculously beautiful and I could never, ever go to Kennedy Lake wearing a bright yellow, two-piece bikini. When we looked in the mirror together, the way mothers and daughters do, I didn’t see us as one or the same, I saw myself as inferior.
This summer I will turn 50 and there are a few things I’ve figured out that I really still hate.
I hate that I never knew how much my mother sacrificed to give me every thing she did and every opportunity to succeed and make my life matter. I hate that I never knew the weeks she only ate popcorn for dinner because we didn’t have enough money to get through the month.
I hate that I never knew how hard it was to juggle the house, the groceries, the yard, a full-time job, three kids, an abusive husband, home work and still make the most amazing meals and treats because she also always made time to be the homeroom mother and sew our costumes.
I hate that I didn’t listen when she tried to tell me sensible things like how important it was to save money, have good credit and earn a good name.
Mostly, I hate that I didn’t know how to honor a woman who brought me into this world as a teenager herself, during a tumultuous time, when other choices were available and she made the one to be brave.
I hate that I ever thought she was weak, when the truth is, she was always only strong. And I hate that I never knew that.
In my family, and with my own three daughters, for as far back as I can remember, we have always said two things, “I love you to the moon and back,” and, “I love you to pieces.”
Sometimes that is all we can do.
Until the pieces come together. And then, there’s chocolate.