This is actually one of my favorite books. It brings back fond memories and it's one of the names my girls call me today (at least to my face) that makes me feel loved. I adore being called Llama... it means the girls have at least one frivolous thing they want to tease me about... other than the pineapple upside down cake episode or my dreadful singing. It's a symbol of something I might have done right when they were kids.
We're approaching one of the most uncomfortable times of the year for me. I don't think I've ever put it into words before, but if I were prone to hives, Mother's Day would do it for me. If I were Superman, this would be my kryptonite...
The whole celebration of everything that should be lovely about being a mom... honoring your mother... being honored by your kids- assuming that you've done your job; equal parts of love and consistency mixed with the occasional doses of guilt and public humiliation. Check, check, check and check... at least on my part. Maybe a little heavy on that last one...!
When I think about my mom, I don't have those things. I have a disconnect, a bare spot... a void. I'm not saying that my mom was a dreadful person, she could be quite charming when the mood was upon her. She even had moments when you felt that she truly cared. But ultimately, she wasn't capable of sustaining those moments and they were lost among the incidents of apathy and indifference. My mom just wasn't capable of an emotional connection, of showing affection, at least with me.
And it's not that I don't understand her; after years of trying, I have a fairly good grasp of why and how she became who she was. It's a kind observation in saying she probably wasn't cut out to be a mother, even though in the 1950's that was what society expected of her. And even though she showed some interest in being a grandmother, ultimately she wasn't capable of being there for my girls either, or their cousins. Unfortunately her walking away left them with some of the same doubts and insecurities she bequeathed to me.
As a mother, it made me very tentative and unsure. I did not want to duplicate my mom's efforts but I didn't have great examples to follow. It also left me very clear that whatever mistakes I made would come home to roost and I really wanted kids that would visit me in my old age!
When I see other women with their mothers, I confess to a certain amount of "mother envy" because a part of me still really wishes for some portion of that idealized relationship, at least a sliver of it. I wonder what it would be like to have someone that you could reach out to... someone that was interested, who would have teased you or offered advice whether you wanted it or not, who might have hugged you when they saw you...
I make sure I do that with my girls. Whether they like it or not...and sometimes they don't. Because I love them and also because I don't want them to have that void where love should be. What I've really learned about mothering is that there are rarely substitutions. As much as I adore my step mother and my mother in law and even my beloved aunt... nothing replaces what you wished you'd gotten from your mom... a pattern to follow, a confidence, a patience, an ease of delivery. I didn't get those and yes, I've lurched along until I reached some level of grace in delivering those things, but I hope when my children look back at my legacy, they can say they got them from me.
Along with the whopping big cheeks!
Can it be next week already?