So, my mom threw out my Christmas presents when she came to spend the holidays with me last week. I know what you’re thinking, “So? Doesn’t everyone’s mom throw out their Christmas presents?”
No you’re not thinking that. Although everyone’s mom has her idiosyncrasies; your mom may correct your grammar and another mom may try to give her adult child a bath in the kitchen sink since it worked well when they were a kid, my mom, however is, well…quirky. Yes, let’s use that word.
In this case, my mom tossed two gift cards while in the course of her duties; disposing of everything she doesn’t deem important in my home, i.e. everything on every flat surface. Unfortunately, having just opened my gifts, I set them in a decorative bowl on my coffee table, not realizing that the bowl did not circumvent the flat surface rule.
After sifting through my recycling and some stomach churning garbage, (turns out Christmas dinner looks way better on the dining room table than it does three days hence at the bottom of a plastic bag, just FYI,) I found my gift cards in a third garbage location and retrieved them. I have hidden them in a place so secret I will absolutely never remember where they are, but at least they won’t end up in a land fill along with all of the other things my mom intends to dispose of.
My mom is currently throwing things out at her girlfriend’s condo so I’m able to jot down a few words before looking for my dog who must have settled on a flat surface for just a moment too long.
I can’t help but wonder what I will someday do while visiting my son’s home which will make him wonder why he continues to invite me to stay. I can, however, share why he’ll open his door rather than pretend he’s in Fiji, a place he knows is too far for me to fly; he is alive.
Most everyone who belongs to that less than exclusive club owes a debt to a primary caregiver, most often a mother, for keeping them alive for the first three years of their life when the average child spends most of its waking hours testing the agility, mind and body, of the woman responsible for bringing them into the world.
Despite this bit of proprietary information, many of us continue to reproduce, secure in the idea that we, as the next (better informed) generation will find a way to raise versions of ourselves without repeating the words which have been passed down, generation after generation just before another sun rises on our precious baby’s newest day. “Just go the !@#$%^ to sleep you little !@#$%^,” a phrase first uttered by Eve resulting in her expulsion from paradise along with Adam, who was pretending he was asleep. The apple thing was invented to avoid using blue language in Genesis.
Once a child is mobile, a stage for which many parents inexplicably long for reasons only evolution can explain, children become tiny drunks and drug addicts, stumbling from one misadventure to the next with nary a backward glance at their harried caregivers who are charged with coming up with funny stories about their child’s near death experiences twenty years hence.
My son, who was apparently a light drinker, had few near death experiences. The most vivid in my mind was when he was a new walker and had followed my husband and I into our walk-in closet. Why we were compelled to meet there, I no longer remember, but I do remember glancing in the direction he normally occupied (south) and finding a dog, which held many of his endearing properties, but none of my DNA resulting in my preference for the baby who was standing thirty feet away at the top of my winding staircase.
He was a charming fellow even then, and before I could react to his precarious situation, he smiled, waved (if he’s been wearing a hat, I swear he would have tipped it,) and said one of his newer phrases, “Bye-bye,” before stepping out with no apparent deference to the lack of solid footing. (He also said, hi, mama, Dindy and Ernie, none of which suited the situation, but I don’t want you, the reader, to consider him a dolt, which you might after the following paragraph, so I added them.)
You know how, in movies, when something is going to happen to Bruce Willis’ or Samuel Jackson’s family, the action turns to slow motion and the hero screams, “nooooooooooooo,” as he runs to save his beloved family at the pace of a LA traffic jam? There’s a reason for that, it’s called reality. As my newly upright son stepped out without the smallest clue that the largest percentage of household accidents are caused by the lack of ability when it comes to descending stairs, (sticking your wet fingers into electrical sockets is the second most dangerous of household injuries, both of which are seldom experienced by the over two set,) my son had tumbled all the way down the stairs and I had yet to complete the final o! even as gravity released him.
Obviously, he turned out OK and that’s the story we’re sticking with (and you’re welcome, Jesse.) I credit his diaper. We’ll never know how many injuries have been evaded by a lack of potty training.
There were other near misses, most of them caused by me with complete lack of malice, such as attempting to cut his baby nails and taking a bit of pinkie with them and letting the young boy place the palm of his hand on the automatic folding headlights of my car which, surprise! close when you turn off the ignition even if a small hand is still exploring.
Every parent knows that the terror involved with raising a child, coupled with the crippling love, ages a person, which would be a great deterrent to premarital sex if we could only convey the nauseating reality to teens. On the bright side, it guarantees an open door policy at our grown child’s residence when they make the mistake of publicizing their address.
Whether our moms were the squishy, puddled adoration type, (me) or the practical you’ll do-as-I-say-or (insert vague threat here) kind, they loved us and still see us as kids. How do I know? Because my little man is the most darling and precious Angel Bunny in all the land, plus he looks even cuter when his beard grows out.
There are times (like when I spit on a finger and clean a whoopsie from his face after following him in a car while he participates in an adult ritual with a hussy) he probably wishes I was the alternative mom, which is, in essence, more what my mom is, but there’s no changing horses mid-stream or leaving your mom in a rest room in London, which wouldn’t really bother me that much, because I know where Paul McCartney’s house is and where Coldplay’s office/rehearsal space is, so…
Anyway. My mom flies in from Atlanta where she moved while I was on my honeymoon in London thirty four years ago. (It’s kind of theme.) Since I live in Chicago, this an example of how different we are as mothers. Get this, my son wants to move to London, (See? A theme!) but has been unable to, thus far because I have shackled him in the basement, where I intend to keep him until he realizes he can’t bear to live outside of a half a miles distance from his mom.
OK, you’re probably thinking, “Poor guy. His mother’s a @#$% nut.” You should know, however, that I’m just making a literary point with exaggeration. He probably could live as far away as say, the post office without breaking my heart. (This is called mommy guilt of which I am Elvis.)
Here we find ourselves returning to the original premise of this missive and by the time you read it, my mother will have arrived and will have been telling me the same stories for at least 72 hours, if you take out for sleep and disapproval of how much money I spend taking her to nice places and after-Christmas sales. (She will also tell family members about what a nice time she had after the fact, so it’s a yin yang sort of situation.)
Other certainties of my mother’s visit: she will claim credit for any talent I have as a writer. (This is not the time to criticize.) She will claim credit for my son’s talent as a musician. She will clean my house (and I will be grateful once she tells me where the dog is). She will sort the gargantuan pile of what I consider single socks and find at least fifty pairs. She will sing songs she doesn’t know by repeating the lyrics a beat after the singer. She will chew and we all know how irritating THAT can be. She will tell me about an ailment she believes can be cured by something she read in the back of the National Enquirer and she will cry when she has to go.
I will cry too, naturally. I will also feel guilty for any irritation that I feel during her visit because I realize by virtue of my own motherhood that someday my son will choose to move someplace where seeing him will be a sometime thing and while I visit, I’ll find ways to irritate him even though I only want to be in his presence.
Also, I owe her for getting me through the first three years of life, relatively unscathed, if you don’t count my unfortunate habit of setting items on surfaces.