Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Brought You Into This World, I Can Take You Out

For Mom, in honor of Mother's Day....

I was 18 years old and had no idea I was stoned when we hit up the McDonalds drive-through, somewhere in Dallas the night of the U2 concert. All I knew was I was starving! It wasn't until the next day, when Mom had to explain to me what a “contact high” was all about. The look on her face said it all. It said, “I cannot believe I raised such an idiot. I can't let you out of the house without a helmet. How are you my child? But you are, and if you weren't mine, I'd kill you.” 

I have said for many years now that my mother gave birth to the three most ungrateful children in the world. It's a running joke in the family, because we aren't ungrateful at all. In fact, this world we live in just wouldn't work if Mom wasn't here to guide us, laugh with us, cry with us, defend us, protect us, and straighten us out.

You'll have to excuse the excessive amount of sappy sentimentality in this post. Although Mother's Day has of late filled me with a sense of bitterness, rage and disappointment, I would be remiss if I did not honor the amazing woman that raised me. Good points and bad, I am who I am, and Mom has always made sure to tell me that who I am is exactly who she's proud to call “Daughter”.

Most of what I know about life, I learned from Mom. She guides, she scolds, and above all, she loves. She is the Lioness and we are still her cubs. Mess with her cubs, and she will claw your a$$ up. (to quote from the movie Role Models). Mom always had words of wisdom for us. Everything from, “time heals all wounds, even this one,” to “If I have to come up those stairs, I'm gonna break your damn neck”. These are the things I will always carry with me. I will always hear her voice in my head, guiding me, reprimanding me, praising me, asking me just what the hell am I thinking. I'm a little bit sad that I will never have children to pass Mom's wisdom on to.

How awesome is my mom? Let's review. When I was three or four years old, I had this profound discussion with Mom during a storm:

Me: Mommy, what's thunder?
Mom: It's your Grandma Ella, bowling with the angels. The really loud booms are when she bowls a strike.

Not the most scientific explanation, but I wasn't looking for one. I was 3 years old, I was afraid, and she gave me something to combat fear: courage and humor. Works every time. It also gave me a way to connect with a beloved grandmother I never had the honor of knowing. I hear thunder, and I think of Grandma. I remember sitting by the sliding glass door in our home on Long Island, listening to the rain hit the metal roof over the patio, waiting to hear her bowl a strike. And cheering when she did. Sure, other kids looked at me funny. It's because they didn't know what I knew. Their mothers gave them science. Mine gave me a sense of wonder and encouraged my imagination.

Mom sees her role in our lives as the most important job she'll ever have. Not that there weren't times when she wanted to kill us, mind you. Like that time my bonehead oldest brother brought the car into the garage... on fire... because it was closer to the garden hose to put out said fire. Or when she went downstairs to wake my other brother up after the prom to find that his date hadn't left yet. And then there was me at the aforementioned U2 concert. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that for many years, Mom's mantra was “It's illegal to kill them; they're mine. It's illegal to kill them; they're mine.” Mom so needs a raise.

Not all the kids in the house were hers. Mom loved to take in “strays”. Each of us, at one point or another, had befriended someone from a broken or abusive home. When they had nowhere to go, Mom opened her doors. If they were hungry, she fed them and if they had wounded souls, she did what she could to heal them, and made sure they knew that they didn't have to go through it alone. My mother cannot stand to see a child suffer, and doesn't know the meaning of “back down” when it comes to defending one.

There were things I learned from mom through lectures, discussions and outright screaming matches. Other things, she taught me by example. I learned from Mom's wisdom because I respect her judgment. I learned from her mistakes because she was brave enough to admit to her children that she made them.
Sometimes Mom cracks me up. Sometimes she frustrates me, like that time I sent her flowers for Mothers' Day, signed the card “Love, Your Favorite Child” and she actually had the NERVE to call the florist and ask which one of us sent them. As if!

Mom actually got a promotion 23 years ago when she became a Grandmother. My niece was born, and Mom got some payback on Brother #1.  Three years later, she got more payback when my nephew was born.  And they still adore my Mom. When other kids were out partying and doing things they knew they should be doing, my niece and nephew and their friends would go over to Mom's house for movie night. Because 'Grandmere' is just cool that way.

Grandmere is getting another promotion this year: her first great-grandchild is due to make his grand entrance in a few weeks. Can't wait for Ben to know who cool his great-Grandmere is. 

I may detest Mother's Day for circumstances outside my control, but I do love my mom, and I hope she knows that this blog post was to honor her. And I hope she doesn't break my damn neck when she picks me up from the airport on Wednesday. 

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