A funny thing happened when I hit the ‘Send’ button this morning. I accidentally told my mom, and about 12 other women friends, that I was glad she didn’t embarrass me in front of them at a mother-daughter event last night.
And you know what she said in her email reply? “I’m glad I didn’t embarrass you. The thought had crossed my mind.” My mom is a total good sport, but I almost never give her credit for it. I wonder if it occurred to her that I might embarrass HER?
I have a not-so-loving relationship with my mother. It’s not her fault. People always tell me how charming and funny and lovely she is. How much they enjoy having her around. But all I see through my judging eyes is someone who struggled with bipolar disease and didn’t pay enough attention to me.
I never stop to remember that she gave birth to 5 children in 7 years, moving with her military husband to at least 5 different bases, with no ‘I’m too tired to cook’ processed food dinners on the days when everyone was sick or crying or snowed in.
It rarely occurs to me that she was an inspiration for my holistic-style career, insisting on whole wheat bread and a ‘no sugary snacks’ household when Wonder Bread and Super Sugar Crisp were standard fare in 70’s suburban homes.
I always forget that she was the one who told my sister and I (I guess she assumed it was a given for my brothers) that we could do anything we want with our lives, and proved it by doing exactly that. As soon as we kids were all in school, she put her Chemistry and Physics degrees to work in a series of jobs that landed her in a professional engineering career.
That’s the kind of life that would make a grown kid proud of their parent. Even if I stopped right there, it would be plenty of reason to knock me upside the head for missing opportunities to tell her.
There’s more. Last year, we saw Mom flirt with death at least 3 times while she struggled through major surgery and a 4-month recovery. None of us kids thought she would live to see 2013. But her incredibly resilient constitution allowed a full recovery and in some aspects, allowed her even better health than ever.
Instead of sending accidental emails about how embarrassing my mom is, I can only hope to be a good sport and take the high road with her a little more often. That’s how I’ll honor Mom on Mother’s Day.
That little email has me wondering, now, if my own kids feel this way about me. I guess what goes around, comes around…
The answer to the Mother’s Day Herbal poll: Roses