This is a Mother’s Day repost (2010) from another blog I started in the year leading up to my 40th high school reunion. I miss you Mom—crazy and all. It is rededicated to my mother and to all the wonderful mothers I know who have done better than their own upbringing. Happy Mother’s Day to us all!
Today I would like to honor mothers, whether they were June Cleaver, or one step away from a Joan Crawford rant about wire clothes hangers. They shaped us for better or worse. My mother was smart, funny and wildly provocative. When I attended Marion Parochial School in first through third grades, my mother would come sauntering down the breezeway for afternoon pick-up in short shorts and halter top, her hot pink toes peeking out of clacking cork wedges as the regulation moms in petticoats and pearls eyed her slack-jawed. I hated her week for carpool. Whipping through morning traffic, she swore and raised the one-fingered salute to anyone who got in her way. My classmates huddled in stunned terror in the backseat, fearful of this manic chauffeur in her bathrobe and curlers.
Many of my friends in high school loved her. She was cool, racy and non-judgmental, and theirs were usually imposing curfews and telling them to watch their language. Little did they know that, in reality, my mother was being eroded by disappointment and regret. She fell into an abyss that made life even more unpredictable. Beginning with freshman year at AHS, my baby sister and I would spend the next 17 years on an E-ticket ride through the Motherhood. When Mom finally made a u-turn in my 31st year, I discovered that not all of our issues were going to be resolved because she had finally tired of being a delinquent. And she discovered, that no matter how hard she tried to make me hate her, that I loved her unconditionally, even if I wanted to put her in the time-out chair half of the time.
The week my mother finally embraced sobriety, we sat and talked for over 30 hours about her regrets, her fears, her debilitating anger, and how much she wanted to be better and do better for her two daughters. The formidable courage I witnessed in my mother, shaking and sick as her body revolted against consciousness, still makes me proud, all these years later. And still makes me cry as I remember how small and powerless this larger than life woman looked cradled against the sofa pillows.
The day before Easter, 2006, my mother left me a message saying that if her three granddaughters were in L.A., she would hide eggs in the yard for an Easter egg hunt. Never mind that my daughter was 15, and her cousins were then 17 and 18. I called her back and we had a delightful chat about the passage of time, how proud she was of her beautiful and accomplished granddaughters and how much we missed each other. I tried to convince her to move to Idaho, even though I had finally cut the apron strings in 2003, severing our codependent relationship and fleeing Los Angeles and the ties that bind. We had laughed so easily that afternoon. And when we said good-bye and “I love you,” it welled from my core. Two days later my mother was gone.
Today is especially bittersweet. I was born the day before Mother’s Day, 1953. Every seven years my birthday falls on Mother’s Day and it was always special to exchange gifts as we celebrated that most complicated and impassioned of bonds — mothers and daughters. My own daughter is away at school so I will get a phone call that will have to suffice for this doubly celebratory day.
Whether your mother is alive and well, or lives in sweet and tangled memories, celebrate the person and the parent you are today, because of that most human of all creatures — mothers. And to all my classmates who have journeyed through the Motherhood, I hope you have the most wonderful day in the company of those you love. Happy Mother’s Day!
I love you, Mom. Always. Lin