Thursday, December 14, 2006

My Bad Mother

Over Thanksgiving, Mom and I sat together and watched some old home movies. I took the opportunity to mock Mom for any number of… interesting decisions made. Putting my sister in an Easter bonnet twice the size of her head, for example. Or giving us both “books” for Christmas that strongly resembled free medical pamphlets (“Your ovaries and you” – thanks, Mom!). And, of course, the classic moment where she sent me trekking out to brave the ski slopes all alone and a wayward snowboarder almost took me out. There was a LOT of mocking going on here, folks. And Mom, good sport that she is, laughed along with me and said, “What can I say? I’m the original Her Bad Mother.”

Now, in a way, this is both true and false. It’s clearly false because my mother was not (is not), in fact, a bad mother. Okay, so our Christmas presents looked like they came from the bargain bin at the dollar store, and our clothes were often blindingly poor fashion choices. But you know what? We had no idea. We got a plastic kazoo under the tree – we were thrilled. Hand-me-downs were new to us. We were happy, because Mom stretched an impossibly thin budget well enough that we were oblivious to what we were missing. That is not a bad mother.

But of course, there is some element of truth in Mom’s statement as well, because Her Bad Mother is also not at all a bad mother. Oh, she worries that she is, as I’m sure my mother did at times. But there is no truth at all to her nom de blog.

I’ve often felt, over the past few months, like a bit of a poser in my area of the blogosphere. A wannabe. An interloper. An outsider, unwelcome, yet forcing my way in. The fact is that I read mommy blogs. I read them, I comment on them, I link to them. But the fact is that I am not a mommy blogger. I’m not a mommy. So what could I possibly have to contribute to the mommy blogging community?

But I do have thoughts and perspectives to share. For one thing, I’ve been a nanny, so I can share childcare stories just as well as others. I can talk about poopy diapers, and picky eating, and tantrums, and beautiful baby laughter. But I think I often forget an important point, which is that these mommy bloggers are mommies to someone – sons and daughters. And maybe I’m not a mommy yet, but I am a daughter.

While spending much needed time with Mom that weekend, I began to look at her more closely, to appreciate her more fully. And as I began to really understand how wonderful a woman she is, I began to realize how impossible it would be to keep that wonder to myself.

These are my mother’s eyes. They are hazel – like mine, but she has more gold flecks than I do. They are bright and expressive; they are quiet and wise. They have watched me grow for over 24 years, peering closely to anticipate my needs, to observe me, to know me. When she cries, they turn red and her mascara clumps together and it just about breaks my heart. When she laughs, they crinkle in the corners and they sparkle like the sun on the ocean and it just about breaks my heart.

This is my mother’s ear. This ear (and the other one, too!) has listened to so many stories – my trials, my triumphs, my pride, my fear. It has heard all of me, in all my forms. It has endured my sobbing, from infant wails to 20-something breakdowns. It has enjoyed my laughter – the giggles, the cackles, the outbursts of guffaws in horribly inappropriate moments. It has warmed at the sound of my singing, of sending her a blessing from a concert stage, of belting out showtunes in the car with Seeser. This ear has listened to me for years, but more importantly, this ear has heard me.

These are my mother’s feet (and her ankles, which she despises, but I love them). These are the feet that paced with me up and down the hall, in and out of the living room, in circles round the bedroom, when I was hurt, or scared, or sick with croup. These are the feet that searched for me every evening after I had crawled to a new hiding place to fall asleep. These are the feet that danced in the kitchen using the counter as a West Coast partner, teaching me to love to dance. These are the feet that walked ahead of me, to show me the way; that walked beside me in a show of support; that walked behind me, in case I should stumble and need a salvation. These are the feet that left those footprints on my heart.

This is my mother’s smile. Her teeth are slightly crooked, despite braces, and she has lines around her mouth from many years of laughter, but this smile is perfect. My mother’s smile is real, sincere, genuine, and it makes me want to smile back. I have seen this smile look upon me with pride, with excitement, with warmth, and always with love. It’s a beautiful smile.

HBM once talked about the deep and inextricable tie between mothers and their children – the inescapable physical bond that connects them forever. I have no doubts that I cannot yet fully comprehend that bond as it feels for a mother, but I feel it as a daughter. I know when I am hurting, my mother hurts too, even from hundreds of miles away. I know when I hear her voice, I worry less, even if nothing has actually changed and she has said nothing but, “Oh, my poor baby…” And I know when she holds my hand and strokes my hair, I feel stronger, like she is giving me some of her own energy to sustain me. I don’t understand these things, but I know them. I know her. She is my beautiful, wonderful, amazing, and precious mother. She is mine, and I am hers – for always.

I love you, Mom.


Day 14 of LaBloShoeMo: The Green Flip-Flops

I bought these last Christmas during Day-After-Christmas shopping with Mom and Seeser. I saw the shoes at American Eagle and loved them, and then came up with this great idea. If I could find a purse to match it, then they would be a great splash of color in outfits made up entirely of neutrals (jeans, blacks, whites, and grays, for example). And wouldn’t you know it? Macy’s had a purse that was the exact same shade of green, and it was even on sale. I was totally sold. The bad news? The little sparkly gems on the straps of these shoes poke through and scratch the tops of my feet – it hurts like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t wear these anywhere I might have to do a lot of walking. But seriously, the color matching? Astounding.


Anonymous said...

Lara, this is an absolutely beautiful post. Your love for and appreciation of your mother is so lovely.

I, for one, am honoured that you enjoy my blog, and that for you it is more than 'just' a mommy blog. We are all just women, after all - me, you, your mom, those other bloggy ladies that you link to.

Just women, but so much more.

Mama said...

Ditto... What a beautiful post... I can only hope that my daughter has such wonderful things to say about me when she becomes a woman. And, I hope, too, that she turns out to be as thoughtful and well spoken as you.

Anonymous said...

Tears in my eyes.

Juka said...

Your mom rocks. I still have her cell phone number - and guess what? It's listed by first name ;) Shocking, I know.

tpiglette said...

I feel like I know your mom better now. :)

Sandra said...

Such a stunning post. I bet your mother is so very proud. She sounds like a wonderful mother.

When I started my blog, I didn't know about "mommy blogs", infact it was a non-mom friend that talked me into it. Yes, I am a mom and I do often write about motherhood and I read blogs by mothers. But not exclusively. I am glad you come and visit. I welcome your visits, your perspective, your strength, your honesty.

And like HBM said we are all just women, but so much more. Just like you.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Mom pretty much rocks. So do you.


Lara said...

her bad mother - thank you! the love and appreciation is easy, because she's so wonderful. and i adore your thought here - we are, indeed, just women, and yet so much more. thank you for that.

jo - given what i know of you thus far, i'm sure your daughter will grow up with a great appreciation for her wonderful mother. thanks for the compliments.

kaitlin (and jacob) - awww... that's a big compliment. especially from you. (who ARE you?)

justin - mom laughed out loud at your comment. she's excited to still have such an honored place, though.

tpiglette - good, i'm glad. i wanted to give everyone a better understanding of how great she is, so if it worked with you (someone who already does know her), then hopefully it worked giving complete strangers a glimpse, too.

sunshine scribe - yes, i think she is pretty proud, actually. sometimes i feel undeserving, but maybe all kids should feel a little undeserving of so much love at times. it keeps us honest. and i'm so glad you appreciate my visits, because i truly appreciate your posts. :)

seeser - yep, she does. and yep, so do i. and in case you didn't know it - so do you. :)

Amanda said...

This mom of two daughters is all choked up. If there is a community of mommy bloggers I would think any member would be foolish not to embrace you with open arms. I like thinking we are all just sharing together.

Major Bedhead said...

What a lovely post. You're mother is as lucky to have you for a daughter as you are to have her for a mother.

I don't like the term "mommy blogger." It seems so one-dimensional and the blogs I read, be they by mothers or not, are anything but.

Lara said...

amanda - welcome, new reader! thanks so much for your comment. i like the sharing aspect, too.

julia - i agree. i think labeling the bloggers in general seems one-dimensional. we all have so much to offer, in so many ways, that to pidgeonhole any of us seems like a crime. that's probably why i continue to cross the genre lines, even when i do feel like a poser. :-P

Heidi said...

Emotions, oh my emotions ... I'm sure I'm still a little emotionally unstable (or hormonal as the Dr says) from giving birth to my beautiful daughter not to long ago ... this entry gave me chills and tears ... being a mother and knowing the love I feel for my daughter ... I would be a sobbing freak if she ever wrote something like this for me ... hopefully she will feel the love and urge to make me break down with happy tears one day ... that is my goal. You could never know how much a mother loves their child until you have your own. It sounds crazy, I used to roll my ears when I heard people say it but it's true.

Heidi said...

roll my *eyes* I meant roll my *eyes* but I would love to be able to roll my ears too ... hmmm

Lara said...

makayla's mommy - don't worry, my mom was pretty close to a sobbing freak when she read it, and she had me 24 and a half years ago. i'm glad you're loving motherhood so much, and i can't wait to get down south and visit with you and miki again soon. much love to you both!

Anonymous said...

Now is the time to comment on the beauty of the article and the beauty of my daughter. I am so very proud of you...I always have been. Thank you for this wonderful expression of love.
Seeser...You are my beautiful child of whom I am also so very proud. We three have always been so and will be for a very long time.
Justin, just so you know, I still have your cell # too.

Lara said...

mom - you were worth every word. and it's all so true. :)

Anonymous said...

I hit on her all the time and who can blame me?! The hottest mom on the planet.

What's not as widely known is what I really think of her as a human being. Class and character. She has those in spades. I've wished she was my mom more times than anyone knows...

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful piece about your Mommy! It made me smile as I thought about my own Mommy and our relationship together. (And someday when you do have your own children, your love for her and understanding will come to even a whole new level!) Absolutely beautiful!