I got a lot from my mother, but it was always tempered with a bit of my father. I got her tactlessness, but I got my father’s storytelling to soothe over ruffled feathers. I got her sense of humor, but I got my father’s as well. I got her need for acceptance and a social circle, but I got my father’s independent lone wolf style. I got her body type with long legs and hour-glass shape, but I got my slightly larger bone structure, my smile, my cheeks, my nose from my father. I got my mom’s blonde hair, but I grew into my father’s curls. I began with my father’s impatience with books, but I grew into my mom’s love for reading. I had just enough of my mother to have us butt heads, and just enough of my father that she never understood where I was coming from. We had turbulent times.
I grew up with the story of how much I looked like my father hanging over my head. When my father’s dad beheld me for the first time, he looked over at my mother and jokingly asked, “Did you have anything to do with this?” Learning to live with the sense of humor that made my father’s family notorious in two states, my mom answered, “I don’t know. I had her c-section. It could be his mistress’s down the hall.” And I grew up leaning towards my father because I understood him.
In college, where people met me before my parents, they always would tell me how much I looked like my mother. I was slowly getting rid of the childish resentment of how “cool” my mom was and how all my friends “loved” her. People in college would say, “Wow. You look just like your mom. She’s so cool. That’s where you get it.” While I started liking her, I was shocked to here her say, “We’re friends now.” I gave her a look of disbelief as she still gave me chores, a curfew, and her nagging. She looked at my face, and said, “Well, maybe not just yet.”
Then I grew up some more. I broke my heart; I fell in love again; I graduated; I faced the realities of life; and then I got pregnant. I started calling two or three times a week. Then when Tornado E was born, she stayed with me for three weeks, calming me when I couldn’t bring him home right away, holding me when I cried my baby blues, helping me with the new baby I was so terrified to ruin. I remember crying as my parents drove away, leaving me with a three-week baby, crying like I cried when they drove away leaving me alone at college for the first time.
My mom confided in me a story that she hadn’t told anyone, when I was pregnant with Tornado E, believing I would have a little girl like my mother who willed a daughter over the protest that the eldest boy always had a son first in my father’s family.
The night of my birth, my mom held me, all alone as my dad had gone in search of food. She looked down at the baby girl she had dreamed of for so many months, so many months before with the trying that seemed to take forever. She started to cry. As my mom sobbed, her heart was torn, forcing her thoughts out of her mouth. “She’s going to hate me one day.”
No, Mom. I never hated you, even when I was an angry, hurt teenager. But I’m glad that we are finally friends.
Even though that means I know a little too much about Dad and your . . . um, personal life.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful moms!