Today was Mother’s Day and I didn’t enjoy it. I felt like a total failure this Mother’s Day. Just like I did on the last one, and the one before it. I read all those blogs and newspaper articles about what spectacular mothers everybody had. Mine loved me, but somehow never got it right. She was always unhappy and made sure everybody else was too. That included me. Like I said, things were never right, never happy, and certainly not joyful. Do I miss her? Who doesn’t miss their mother ? Even when life with them is not that wonderful.
I can’t help thinking about the relationship I have with my own daughter, Jennifer. I read about endearing things good mothers do for their children, most of which I never did. Like leaving little saccharine love notes in her lunch box or on her pillow. And then I thought of all the other things I didn’t do, such as…
I didn’t bake many cookies. More likely I baked cakes, like devil’s food cake on Halloween. I never baked bread either.
Did I knit baby booties? Socks? Sweaters? Scarves? C’mon. You’ve got to be kidding. The last time I knitted anything, it was a strait-jacket for the dog.
There were no bedtime stories either. The first time I read Jennifer a story- about the three little pigs- she had nightmares. All night. About nasty, fat-assed wolves riding her tricycle. And then there were the fights to get her to bed. She had so much energy, her bed could have been a trampoline! Genetics? Sugar? I don’t know. But reading my daughter bedtime stories? No. It didn’t happen.
No homemade crafts either. I hate crazy glue. It’s hard to unstick fingers from tabletops. I remember a dinner guest asking, “What are these little beige circles under my placemat?” I also outlawed play dough. Hard dried-out play dough on carpet fibers lacerates feet. Sit on that one.
Some may say I taught my daughter bad social skills because I once told her, “ If someone hits you, hit them back and harder. But not if there is a teacher or dean around.”
And I cleaned her face with a spit rag. But only once. (Nah, maybe two or three times.) My mother used to do this to me, She’d dab a kleenex or hankie in her saliva and then wipe my cheek with it. Not very sanitary but it is convenient. Ewwww…
Admonish her not to curse? No. I’m not a hypocrite. I can make paint peel. Funny thing, she does’t use profane or obscene language, but it’s not because of me.
Did we make doll clothes and dress her dolls? No, she made them herself. What they looked like and how they fit her dolls were her issues. Did we make little doilies trimmed with lace? Nope. Play imaginary tea parties? Sorry. I had to work. No time. Make Christmas decorations? Ditto. Did I radiate sunshine when I smiled? Not a chance. I have a bad habit of seeing things as they are. I know, I sound like my mother. But, like my mother …
I did help her with her homework and harder yet, study habits . I think my love of learning rubbed off on her, that knowledge is good and necessary for survival. I may have even inspired her to be a good-hearted person, to love family, life, and nature. I say inspire, but encourage may be a better choice of words because I think this is something a person is likely born with.
I also taught her to drive. A car. Driving other people crazy is something she learned on her on. As for driving the family car, I am still here to write about it. I may have a few extra gray hairs but I survived.
I taught her household skills and to clean the garage. (You don’t think I would clean the garage all by myself? ) I even taught her how to kill a cockroach in a single swat. An essential skill here in south Florida and all the more impressive because she’s left handed.
Yesterday, I apologized to Jennifer about not leaving sweet notes of happiness in her lunch. Her reply: “If you had left me those notes, I wouldn’t have known what to make of them.. I would have thought there was something wrong with you…” Such cynicism. I wonder where she got it from!