At my high school graduation, I gave my parents a card to thank them for everything they had done for me. I had to give it my own personal touch, of course, so I wrote on the inside: “Also, thank you for having sex to make me.”
This really happened. You are not surprised. Neither were they. Dad laughed. Mom turned red.
Today, I once again thank my mom for squirting me out of her crazy ginger bush. If dad were still alive, I might also thank him for giving mom the hot beef injection at precisely the right moment. Had he looked at the ceiling for a split-second, I would have been a whole different person. Heck, I wouldn’t be here at all.
Oh, feel that heat? That’s mom turning red again, and wishing she hadn’t stood so close to the microwave when she was preggers avec moi. Or maybe she wishes she had gotten even closer.
I love my mom, but we are very, very different. Chalk and cheese. Oil and water. This point is one of the few things on which we actually agree.
She likes to clean. I live in filth.
She likes to sew. I’d rather poke needles in my eyes.
She doesn’t like to rock the boat. I like to make everyone uncomfortable by asking why we are even in the boat.
She thinks my language is foul. I think it’s just 21st-century entertainment, baby. Everybody needs to just relax.
This morning, I tweeted: “My husband gave me a goddamn trolling motor for Mother’s Day. Motherfucker!” I thought it was hilarious.
Mom called and asked me to delete it. This was not the first time my words have made her cringe, and it won’t be the last. (Motherfumbler, coming to a bookstore near you this fall.) I deleted the post, seeing what day it is and what I must have done to her lady garden all those years ago.
Mom and I are different in many ways. But there are a few ways in which I think we are very much alike.
We are gingerlicious. Red hair and pale skin, sprinkled with freckles. It’s a strawberry sundae up in here, straight out of Cape Freels. (You know you want one.)
We are crafty. I put words together. Mom puts fabric together. She used to knit and cross-stitch. Now she makes quilts – a lot. I gave her a magazine subscription to Quilter’s World for Mother’s Day, that’s how much she quilts.
We both miss dad.
We are people persons. I’m pretty good with people. Mom is amazzzzzing with people. Ask anyone. She will own a room in 17 seconds or less. She exudes kindness. So community-minded, she’s always there to share a meal or play a game of cards with the sick or elderly or lonely. It’s no wonder she has a cabinet full of ornaments and figurines that say things like “thank you” and “you’re special.” She’s a pretty rad friend. (But mom – I do not want this cabinet, ever.)
We let our kids be who they are. The greatest gift I can give my son is acceptance, to let him be exactly who he is. My mother has accepted my crazy ass – albeit reluctantly sometimes – all my life. Even now, each day is a gift when she chooses to NOT scold me or disown me or write me out of the will for having a messy house or a foul mouth. I know it can’t be easy for the dry and rigid chalk (no offence) to accept the smelly, bendy cheese, so I appreciate it all the more.
A particular moment comes to mind. Wedding planning. 2008. I told mom and dad we had decided to get married by the mayor, down by the lake – NOT in a church. They were disappointed. We hung up. Shit got weird. But just a couple hours later I got this email from dad: “Your mother and I have talked it over and we agree with you… It is your wedding, not ours, so we will be there even if it’s in the woods, sticks, bog or alders.” That was the best email I ever received from my parents. Because between dad’s foolish lines, I read: I accept you. I will be there for you. Even though I don’t agree with you.
We don’t have to be alike to love each other.
When my book comes out in the fall, I plan to dedicate it to my parents.
To dad, for teaching me how to string a few words together.
To mom, for showing me how to be a good mom. (It’s a book about motherhood. It’s only right.)
But most importantly, I dedicate my book to both mom and dad for letting me be me. I wrote the damn book. I did. Not some bullshit version of me invented to please them. And it’s all about me, baby. The real deal. The person I was able to be, because I never had to worry my parents wouldn’t love me if I didn’t become someone they might like a little better.