“So tell me something you remember about me from your childhood.” My mom asked casually. “Anything.”
Oh no. I smelled a trap. This was definite trouble. I struggled to come up with something. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but my memories of childhood are basically a dead zone. I don’t remember spending much time with her at all, and my father was a mix of random play and me stepping over his drunk body. I do remember them fighting. Hmm. I don’t think that’s what she’s looking for.
“I knew it.” She concluded from my hesitation. “I was a terrible mom.”
Okay, so I probably could have had a better childhood, but at this point, who remembers? Oh man, the pressure. Think! Think!
“Tell me something you remember.” I countered, stalling for time.
That stopped her. “Oh, okay.” Pause. Then, a giggle. “I can’t remember anything.”
Disbelief. “You can’t remember anything from my childhood?”
More giggling. “Where was I?” she asks. Like I should know?
I don’t know if it’s funny, but we are both amused. “That’s a good question, mom.”
“You were so precocious. You just raised your cute little self.”
“Apparently.” Well, it was the 70’s.
We giggled some more about it and then moved on to lighter subjects, like how full she was from her over-sized dish of vegetables or how cute my boys are.
It’s good that we can laugh about the past and move on. Our relationship has evolved so much since the times I don’t remember, or my brain chooses to forget. I’ve grown and she’s grown as well. Emotionally, at least. There was a time when she wouldn’t even think to ask such a question. Not because she didn’t care, but whether it was her youth, immaturity or overwhelming circumstance, she just didn’t think of it.
I still remember a couple of years ago when I was telling her about a friend of my son’s whose parents were divorcing, which coincidentally was around the age my parents divorced. She said, “Wow, that must have been really hard for you.” I was shocked. It was the first time she had directly acknowledged my feelings about that time. Okay, so it was almost 30 years later, but still, I was touched by her, albeit belated, concern.
Physically, she’s gorgeous, strong and energetic, but tiny, topping out at about 5’1, and I’m giving her that inch because I love her and I know she’s just arched her back and is standing up a little straighter reading this. I can hear her bemoaning her stature all the way from her house. “Oh, why am so short?” 65 years and she hasn’t come to grips with her height. She is eternally cute.
It has taken years to come to this point, but our relationship steadily improved around the time I got married and markedly improved after my first child was born. I honestly didn’t expect all that much given our history, but she completely surprised me. Devoted, loving, generous. She dotes on each of my boys. They are such a joy to her and she is so attentive and wonderful, that I can’t imagine that she wasn’t always this way.
Later, my phone rang again.
I answer, “Hi mom.”
“Hi, I was just wondering if you thought of anything.”
“Uh no, mom. I haven’t been thinking about it.”
“Of course. Me neither…” She switches to her favorite subjects. “Hey, did I tell you how good the boys were the other night? And Julius did the funniest thing…”
I don’t know what happened back then. I can’t remember what I did five minutes ago. What I do know is that today, right now, she is the absolute best mom possible. I wouldn’t change a bit of her.
She, of course, has a list of things she’d change. But that’s another story.
This is so beautiful and honest and I am proud of you for writing it. I love how your relationship with your mom has developed into a great adult relationship and you portrayed it perfectly here!
thank you. i really appreciate your words. i hope my mom agrees. 🙂
You nailed the complexity of mother-daughter hood. I didn’t know some of these things about you. Thank you for sharing. Brave you.
hopefully my mom agrees. 😉
Thinis a GREAT post.
It touches many vulnerable chords,ending up in the most consolatory way for everyone!
Icescreammama , you never disappoint me!
thank you so much. 🙂
Lovely post. It’s refreshing to read that you were able to move to a new place with your mom, and even laugh about the fact that neither of you have many memories of your childhood.
thank you. you have to appreciate people for who they are and look at the good. 🙂
I’m so glad that you and your mom are in a good place with each other now.
Wow! I love this post and your ability to move past the old pain to a real-time relationship with your mom. Great writing and inspiring humanness here – congrats!
I love this!!! This captures exactly how my relationship with my mother is to a T. Although, my mom and I have a silent agreement to not talk about my childhood so we don’t have to live in that awkward silence. Thanks for sharing your story!
thank you. sometimes it’s better not to talk about, especially when you’ve moved on to a good place. got to live in the present, right?
You write about your mom so beautifully and honestly. I am so glad for you both that you are able to have such a great relationship as an adult, and that your boys have such an amazing grandma.
thank you. she grew up great. 🙂
I cant wait to be agrandma in about 30 years from now.
i’m looking forward, but i can wait. 😉
I remember another post with you and your mom playing tennis. I loved her then and I loved her here. It’s amazing how healing having our own children can be to our relationships with our own parents. We are able to see, understand and forgive things in a whole new way. Congratulations on finding your back to each other, letting go of the past, and enjoying a happy present and future together.
P.S. I guess I liked your post so much I liked it twice at the top of the page. 🙂 Not sure what the heck happened there.
thank you twice! and i so appreciate you remember my other tennis post with my mom. that makes me all sorts of happy. my kids did bring out the best in her. amazing and so wonderful.
your mom has a lot to be proud of. the genes (jeans) fit just right.
love to you both.
To echo what everyone else said, this was a very tender account of a mother-daughter relationship. The stand out scene for me was when your mom called and asked if you thought of anything yet. This was a perfect illustration of just how deep her love runs for her daughter!
she has called me continuously on it… yesterday… “oh, i remember i used to read to you all those dr. suess and golden books!” five hours later, “oh i remember i would sew your shirt to your skirts…” she’s so funny and sweet.
I’m so glad you were able to move past your childhood. This is such an interesting look at the mother/daughter dynamic.
thank you, i very much appreciate her now. she was just another overwhelmed human back then. it always easy.. but when we learn to appreciate and that we really are just human, it takes some pressure off, at least for me…
I love this. How wonderful that you and your mom have found a happy place together. There’s so much emotion here – so beautifully told!
thank you. really.
Agree with the other comments – this was so honest and real. Thank you for sharing and I am happy your relationship evolved into love and respect.
she totally surprised me. what a gift. 🙂
That mother/daughter relationship is such a complicated thing, isn’t it? I’m much more tolerant of my mother now that I’ve had kids, but she’s also much mellower. It’s just better all around.
right? things change. i guess we all go from being one mother to another…
wow this is SO very much like my own relationship with my mother. same time frame, same age, same marital status. kinda creepy! 🙂
that is.. could we be related? i have have dark curly hair too. 😉
I liked how you turned the tables on her and made an awkward moment into something you could both laugh about. It was nice to read about how your relationship improved, and it was very brave to post it and picture her reading it.
thanks. i always get a little nervous about that but she was so happy and says over and over how good i am to her. i tell her, i’m just being honest..
I love how you can both just let go of the past, and enjoy each other for who you are in the present. Not many people can do that.
you have to appreciate and let the other stuff go ( if you can) it’s all so fleeting..
What a wonderfully told story! This illustrates what I believe is true of most mothers… They worry that they didn’t do well, but their daughters grow up and love them no matter what.
thank you. true. memory is short but love is long.
I really like how you handled the delicate business of defining a mother-daughter relationship, especially knowing that your mom would most likely be reading this. (The stakes have gone waaay up since my mom started reading my blog!) I love that you can be honest about the past and see the beauty in your present relationship.
thank you. it’s a little tougher knowing she’d read, but it was honest and she was happy. thank goodness. i did worry a little.
Having children of your own really does add an entirely new dimension to the mother-daughter relationship. It sounds like you’ve got a great one with your mom.
thank you. she turned out great. sometimes, people really do surprise you.
For entirely different reasons, my mom is also pretty absent from my childhood memories. It affects us deeply. I’m so glad your relationship evolved with time, and that you took the time to write about it so openly and beautifully. You, your mom and your boys all sound so very lucky today!
thank you. she growed up real good. 😉
Oh, I love this. So touching. I’m really glad you and your mom overcame so much and went on to have a satisfying close relationship today. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what happened yesterday. Today is what matters. Bravo.
I love this post too! My relationship with my mother has gotten so much better since I have become a mother. Thanks for such a sweet reminder of how a relationship can grow and change and always has the chance to get better and stronger!!
thank you!! people really can surprise you. our dynamics and perspectives are always changing. i am so not the person, or even the parent, I was 10 years ago. i think as we grow, hopefully, we become more forgiving and appreciative.. hopefully..
I could have written this same post. Sounds like we had very similar childhoods – and mothers! I too have grown closer to my mom over the years. Took having kids of my own to get there!
amazing how it all goes round. 🙂