My mom called. Groan. OK, I can do this, I tell myself when her name flashes across the caller ID. Well, actually it says “Private Caller” because she insists on having an unlisted number, because she doesn’t want people to find her. Different story there though.
Mom wanted some details about my upcoming performances, and times, and directions. I should have left it at that, but I decided to share the story of my daughter sweetly befriending a boy with Down Syndrome in her class. Then I said I wonder if spending all this time dancing with her has shown her that I accept all kinds of people, because believe me, we have ALL kinds of people in this dance troupe. You have to be a bit, umm, eccentric to even want to do this type of dancing. Then I was laughing at how my girl will remember these times with me when she is older, such funny mother-daughter bonding I have chosen.
Did my mom say what a good job I’m doing? Did my mom say how special all this mother-daughter time is? Did my mom say she is proud of me or her grand-daughter? No. No she did not. She had to prove she was just a good of a mom to me, and that we had plenty of special times together.
Mom: Remember when I took you shopping with me and we always stopped at the candy store?
Me: Yes, I remember the candy store. You always gave me a dollar and let me get whatever I wanted. (I also remember I always chose what I knew you liked best to make you happy. I remember asking for red even though my favorite was green. I remember a dollar got me like 5 little pieces. I remember trying to be grateful and good so you did not call me selfish and rude.)
Mom: What a special time that was. I’m so glad you’re spending special times with your daughter too.
Woah, ok, so yes, I did like the candy, but somehow it just doesn’t seem quite the same as what I’m doing with my daughter. Not quite Mom. I’ve been going to rehearsals, several hours a week with my daughter. Then we go shopping at thrift stores to get things for our costumes. Then we work together to make the costumes and do each other’s hair, makeup and nails. And we talk. We talk while we drive. We talk while we dance. We giggle. We giggle while we mess up the dance steps. We giggle while we make our costumes and try on hilarious items. We love. We love our time together. (mostly— sometimes we annoy the crap out of each other, and she rolls her eyes at me, come one, it’s not Leave it to Beaver, it’s my Life)
Somehow I remember silent car rides with my Mom, no music, no talking, no laughing. The shopping was dreadful and agonizing, and I usually had the impression that I got the candy so my mouth would be full and not bothering her. I can remember never chewing the candy, just letting it melt in my mouth forever to make the dollar’s worth last longer. Plus I always shared it with Mom, so she would praise me for being kind. And then we would try on clothes, as she told me to hurry, stand up straight, suck in my belly, and smile prettily if we ran into anyone she knows. And she always told me how she “used” to be pretty like me, so I should enjoy it now (at age 7 I was afraid to be pretty, and also already afraid to lose it). I felt controlled, but I also felt like I could control my mother’s mood. Her outlook depended on my smile and willingness to play along. And so I did. But I hated having that control. It always seemed to be my fault, her good mood, or her bad mood. So I did my best to make her happy by being who she wanted me to appear to be. Thought if I was perfect for her, she’d be pleased with all of us.
So, Yes, Thanks for all the candy, Mom.