Learning from the Best

Just because Mother’s Day was yesterday, doesn’t mean we can’t honor our mothers the day after. They deserve our respect every day of the year, right? Plus, that’s how this mess rolls anyway—a day late and a dollar short. So in the longtime tradition of thanking our moms for keeping us alive raising us right, I polled my mom for her some of her own hot mess stories during motherhood.

Her response was typical Sally: a brief, efficient laundry list of her (or my?) greatest hits, using little punctuation and capitalization even though she was an English teacher for 35 years. Because even her emails are passive aggressive:

” just read your text this morning.  besides the famous, rather infamous, falling out of the car caper, not much else comes to mind (different story with your brother).
I believe I turned my back while grocery shopping with you (standing in the cart, refusing to sit down like someone else I know).  of course you fell and hit your cheek below your eye.  I think you might still have the scar (maybe wrinkle)
fast forward to elem school- you insisted on cutting your hair short, and afterwards, I was often complimented on how handsome my two boys were.
or, the time I drove off and left you and [a friend] in new braunfels. 
then there was high school and lying for [a friend] so she could spend the night with [her boyfriend]. of course you were a terrible liar, and I called you on it – one of the few times I did. (re: college days)
lv, ur mom ”

When I asked her to expand on the infamous pinto incident, she had only this to say:

” I hope you’re kidding.
orange pinto station wagon.  no child seat. no safety belt.  toddler standing in passenger seat.
pulling into oncoming traffic.  child’s hand on door, and flying out as it opens, but holding on for dear life ( you were strong even then.)  grabbing your leg and holding on long enough to get across the road and pull over to assess damage and cry hysterically. immediate trip to toys r us for celebratory toy.  
still waking up in cold sweat some nights for 34 years.
glad you don’t remember much. ”

I’m sorry, mom, for trying to fling myself into oncoming traffic. Thanks for saving my life, even though I was unrestrained in the front seat of a vehicle that was recalled about 3 years prior to said incident.

I’m sorry I didn’t believe your recommendation to keep my long beachy waves. My insistence of a Dennis-the-Menace cut was indeed the wrong decision. And I paid full-price on that mistake for many painfully slow, pre-pubescent years. Thanks for your advice, however unwanted at the time. I will try to remember how right you were the next time I am mull(et)ing over a new cut.

I’m sorry I didn’t obey your repeated requests to sit down in an unrestrained shopping cart (though I am noticing a pattern, here). I now know where my hashtag of wrinkles beneath my left eye came from. Thanks for clarifying so I can now report it as a scar instead of the inexplainable epicenter from which all wrinkles radiate. #effingwrinkles #iamthereasonforchildrestraintlaws

I’m sorry my brother and his friend fooled you into thinking we were hiding in the back of the van as you sped away, cackling at our little joke…when in fact we were lost and wandering around downtown New Braunfels for about an hour. In the age of no cell phones. Thanks for coming back and somehow finding us…without a GPS no less.

I’m sorry I tried to lie to you so many times. My unwitting inability to lie effectively must have been really difficult for you to hold back laughter and/or tears, neither of which would have boded well for my self esteem. Thanks for calling me out on my shit every so often when you could stand it no longer. You should have done so much more frequently. Because I was a little punk who deserved much worse than the gentle discipline I received.

I am my mother’s daughter.

Thanks again, mom, for all that you do, for making me laugh, for barely keeping me alive in the crazy ’80’s, and teaching me how to embrace the mess.

Birdie and Chickadee.

And for all you other mamas who are just trying to do your best, Happy Belated Mother’s Day!


Yesterday, today, and every day.

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