Monday, May 10, 2010
Things I should have told my mom
I have to hand it to Mama. She didn’t quite know what to make of me, but she never discouraged me in my writing unless she was trying to get me to work around the house. Which, as a mom myself now, I completely and totally understand.
I was a funny little kid, one that I’m sure exasperated Mama to no end. The things that she taught me in order to entertain myself turned out to be the very things that she had to overcome later.
No good deed, I guess, goes unpunished.
She’d learned a bunch with The Sister – the first born that she toted on her hip to hang out diapers on the line when it was so cold the diapers froze stiff. Mama taught me to read, most likely, out of sheer desperation for a little peace of mind, that and the fact that she loved to read herself.
I entertained myself, all right. Mama would be turning the house upside down, out of her head with worry when I’d gone MIA. She’d find me lurking in a dark corner, curled up with a book, oblivious to the world around me.
With Mama, you learned early not to utter the words, “I’m bored.” They were an invitation to be put to work. It was as good as plastering a huge sign on yourself proclaiming, “I have nothing to do and am at your beck and call.”
Nope, not me. When I had read every book in the house, I learned how to entertain myself all over again. I put on little one-man plays. I read the dictionary again. I researched Greek and Roman mythology. I researched English royalty. I taught myself to play chess. I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
Again, I never thanked Mama for not absolutely forbidding me to fill up every single sheet of college rule loose-leaf notebook paper she ever bought me. She carped about it, mind you, and talked about how I never seemed to save paper for class work, but she never “grounded me” from writing. I guess she figured out that telling me not to write was like telling her not to “project.” It was just in us. She worked in lumber and sawdust and nails, and my medium of choice involved words and paper and ink.
I can look back now, with my grown up mother-that-I-am eyes and see that she was at once befuddled with me, a me so different than she was, and proud of me. I know that because I feel the same way about The Kiddo.
The Kiddo loves to write, but reading? It has to be gripping and funny to suck her in and not let her go. For someone like me, someone who can’t resist the print off a milk carton, that blows my mind.
Math and athletics and writing, now, that’s what lights The Kiddo up. I never had much confidence in my math skills, and I was cursed with two left feet. I never could do a cartwheel, but The Kiddo can contort her body in a pretzel without breaking a sweat.
I hope I can follow Mama’s model when it comes to celebrating the difference I find in my unexpected daughter. I hope as The Kiddo grows older, and by necessity more and more into her own individual person, that I can remember the time Mama gave me my most favorite Christmas present: a 500-sheet pack of loose-leaf notebook paper and a package of blue PaperMate pens. Yep, whatever I am today, it is in large part due to the mother that she was.
Somewhere in heaven, Mama’s nodding and laughing and saying, “Uh-huh, I told you so. I told you that you’d wise up and figure that out some day.”