Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Lesson Before Dyeing

There is a story that my mother likes to tell. She tells it often, with humor and relish. I never understood exactly why the story had such meaning for her.

My mother, like most of the women in my family, has struggled with her weight all of her life. And like many of us, she experienced feelings of guilt, shame, and worthlessness. But it wasn’t her own feelings that compelled her to lose the weight. I was five years old and entering kindergarten and my mother was extremely worried about the social stigma of having a fat Mom. She vowed that her three girls would not be embarrassed and humiliated by her size. She lost an astonishing 90 lbs.

On my first day of Kindergarten, she dressed stylishly, enjoying the novelty of wearing fashionable clothing from a store not for the Junoesque. Being a hairdresser, she was always well-coiffed and made up, but she pulled out all the stops that day, determined to be the coolest Kindergarten Mom that ever walked the halls of Lincoln Elementary.

And so we walked to school, my Mom’s funky heels clickety clacking pleasantly on the pavement and her bell bottoms swish, swish, swishing with every polyester step. My Mom was feeling confident and beautiful. I, apparently, was worried.

As we arrived at the school, my Mother noted a certain reluctance in my step, which she attributed to first day of school jitters. She calmly took me in hand and walked me to the door of my classroom where I halted, refusing to go in. My mother was disconcerted to see that I was near tears.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” she asked, full of motherly concern. Whatever it was, she would fix it.

With lower lip atremble, I asked, “Do you think all the kids will make fun of you?”

My mother was shocked and completely puzzled. She was svelte! She was stylish! She was the suburban Farrah friggen Fawcett, dammit!

Stricken, she asked only “Why???”

Holding back sobs, I stammered,

“Because…you have…ruh-ruh-red.... huh-huh-hAIRRR!!!” sob, sob, sniffle, sob.

At first, my Mother was speechless. And then, as realization dawned, she laughed. Not at me, but at herself. Because she had foolishly thought she could inoculate herself against an epidemic of ginormous proportions. That which causes parents to humiliate and embarrass their children through no particular fault of doing of their own. There is no treatment, there is no cure.

And the reason she told it so often and with such relish, is because she couldn’t wait until we three girls, as parents, stumbled onto the inevitable truth for ourselves. And of course, we did.

My moment wasn’t quite so public or so dramatic. But it was equally heartbreaking. On the first day of Middle School, I offered to drive my son to school and help him get all his junk to his locker. Also, I knew he was experiencing locker anxiety and I thought maybe it would help to have me there in case he had trouble with his combination.

He gave me a funny look that I couldn’t quite interpret, and then he said, “Ummm, sure Mom. But…could you drop me off at the sidewalk and let me walk the rest of the way?”

I explained that I had thought I would come in with him to help carry his stuff and make sure everything was okay. The look he gave me then was not difficult to interpret. It was sheer, unadulterated horror.

He took the bus.

I tried not to take this personally. There have been other moments along the way, smaller, less clearly defined moments of independence, designed to prime me for the bigger, more wrenching steps toward autonomy.

I thought back to his first day of kindergarten. I had dressed, fixed my hair and applied make-up, expecting to have to walk him in. I expected tears. I expected pleas not to leave him, I expected to have to pry him from my legs. But none of that happened. When we drove up to the entrance and the attendant opened the sliding door, he jumped out without hesitation and bounded inside. He didn’t look back. I thought about calling his name. I thought he must surely need some reassurance. But I realized it was I who needed reassurance. That my baby would need me a little while longer.

I drove off, tears trickling down my cheeks. Tears of pride, tears of sorrow. Tears of regret because I had so often longed for an end to the sleepless nights, the needing, the sheer effort of sustaining another human being emotionally and physically throughout every night and every day. Tears just because my heart hurt at the sheer beauty of him as he strode into the building, happy, confident and brave.

He’s 11. And the other is 8. And they do need me. Sometimes, just to be there. But they also need me to let go. I’m learning how to do both. And I’m trying very hard not to be hurt when they are embarrassed to be seen with me.

Because I might have been embarrassed by my Mom on that first day of Kindergarten, but there were many other times that I was so proud of her I thought my heart would burst. I thought that there could not possibly be a Mom as beautiful, as brave, as smart as mine.

Like that time she sewed me a beautiful powder blue dress with white lace accents and a cameo embroidered on the bodice. It was for my cousin’s wedding. I was the flower girl. I felt so beautiful in that dress. And you know what? She let me wear that dress for Halloween. Never was a princess more regal looking than I. And she didn’t say a word about the chocolate smears or the kool-aid stains. I told everyone my Mom had made that dress for me.

Or the time that I wet my pants in second grade because of my bladder and kidney problems. The teacher wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom, despite the fact that my mother had explained my problems to her, and made it clear that when I had to go, I really had to go. She walked right into the principal’s office and yelled at mean Mr. Schien and she wasn’t even a little bit afraid.

There was the time she went to a big important hair show and wove a lady’s hair into an actual basket! They even put real fruit in it. I showed everyone in my class the polaroids. They thought it was the neatest thing they ever saw. I couldn’t believe my Mom could do something so cool.

And all the times my Mom sang in church. She was so beautiful and everyone thought my Mom sang like an angel. I was so proud of her and it didn’t matter to me that she didn’t have a different dress to wear every week like Mrs. Zimmerman, or a fur coat like Mrs. Knoke.

I think I have a few of those moments in me. And maybe I won’t even know until they’re grown up with children of their own, that a certain moment or a thing that I did made them proud.

I can wait.

12 Comments:

  • At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Kvetch said…

    Great stories, great story-telling, B.A. You've spurred a few memories of my own. Now I have more blog posts on the fire. WHEW. Thanks, as usual.

     
  • At 9:48 AM, Blogger jchevais said…

    You made me cry! (I'm serious)

    Bravo! Well-written!

    Your mom sounds impossibly awesome.

     
  • At 10:28 AM, Blogger Mamma said…

    Thank you, thank you for such beautiful words.

    There are so many days that I enjoy embarrassing my kids and then the other days (just like your mom) when I make big changes in myself just so I won't.

    This whole mothering thing...there's no way they could write a manual.

     
  • At 2:36 PM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    Bravo, B.A.!

     
  • At 8:38 PM, Blogger crazymumma said…

    What a stunning trubute to your mom. I hope she reads this.

     
  • At 9:41 PM, Anonymous mamatulip said…

    Here via Sunshine Scribe, and glad I came. This is an awesome post.

     
  • At 10:37 PM, Anonymous HavingMemorieswithMominsideMyMindNow said…

    Me, too, I found you via Sunshine Scribe and I'm glad that I decided to visit your blog.

    This post is a very beautiful post, and very inspiring.

    It made me look back and find wonderful memories I had with my Mom.

    Thanks, BA.

     
  • At 8:13 AM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    Now I'm terrified. I have to worry about embarrassing my kid as early as kindergarten?! Probably earlier than that, huh?

    Great post and congrats on your Perfect Post award!

     
  • At 9:31 AM, Blogger ewe are here said…

    Recently found your site, and I have to comment: This is a lovely tribute to your mom. It's made me remember some things about my own, and about how I will handle the day my little boy (well, soon there will be two little boys) asks me to drop him off at the corner please...

    Lovely.

     
  • At 1:34 PM, Blogger sunshine scribe said…

    Your post gave me the chills. I loved reading about the memories of your mother.

    THanks for sharing this BA

     
  • At 6:43 AM, Anonymous Antique Mommy said…

    I often wonder if I will embarrass Sean because I am so old.

     
  • At 4:31 PM, Blogger Jenn said…

    This is my first visit to your site...and I cried. I have a two year-old daughter and have yet to face what you describe. Something tells me I really can't prepare for it.

    It's beautiful the way you told the stories.

     

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