You'd never know it from my gracious aplomb (snort) and my general state of well-adjustedness, but my mom and I used to have a really rough time together. From about age 13 until, um, well into my twenties, uh, thirties, I barely tolerated her. She was the parent I could count on to love me no matter what, so I took advantage of her and was not very nice. In the guise of speaking my mind, I said mean things and generally took her for granted. I was difficult. I hurt her feelings.
Things started to get better when I had my first child. It really annoys me that this is exactly what everyone said would happen, but happen it did. She was a good resource, who sometimes gave me unwanted advice, but never expected I would follow it. When I learned about new ways of parenting (breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, babywearing) she didn't judge, but was interested in my reasons, curious about the effects. She was really, really nice about it.
As time went on, and we at the Deluxe house tried to learn to parent without spanking, and eventually without punishment of any kind, (not easy when you're the first generation to parent this way) she was, again, open and interested. It has been like we are having a kind of ongoing mothering seminar, in which we are comfortable talking openly about the parenting I got, and the parenting I am trying to give. We haven't always done it without rancor, but we always find our way back to understanding each other.
And now I can honestly say that my mother is one of my best friends. (The ghost of my seventeen-year-old self is rolling around in her grave. She simply cannot believe that this is possible.) My mom is someone I count on to talk me through difficult decisions, one of the first people I want to share exciting news with, and my absolute favorite person to go shopping with. Sometimes we don't even really shop much: we just cruise the mall, talking, looking, talking, walking.
A list, for fun. The top ten things I love about my mother.
1. She loves my boys, in a very active, intentional, concrete way. She doesn't love them from a distance, but actually does things with them, and takes an interest in them. She cares about what they care about, asks questions, follows up.
2. Whenever she buys yarn from someone's destash list, she always gets a little something for me.
3. She lets me shop from her yarn stash, too.
4. Ditto her vast Clinique collection. Anything I want, I can have.
5. She has bigger feet, so when I make a pair of socks that is too big for me, she is happy to take them off my hands. Uh, feet.
6. She has learned to communicate clearly about when she doesn't like something, and can do it without hitting below the belt. A great example to me.
7. She lets me borrow her clothes.
8. She'll try anything. She learned to knit only a few years ago, well into her retirement. She takes and teaches classes in needlework, and is quite accomplished with a needle and thread. She's less accomplished in knitting and quilting, but doesn't let that stop her from experimenting and playing.
9. She majored in math in college, at a time when most girls didn't even go to college, let alone major in math.
10. She is my number one fan. She has this unending ability to see me as a fascinating, intelligent, competent teacher and mother. If I say I want to reform the educational system of the entire US, she believes that I can do it.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
And to all of you as well.