Twenty-three years ago — you know, when I was 12 — I began the remarkable journey that is Motherhood. How is it possible that little elf of a baby girl with shockingly pointy hair turned into a poised, accomplished college graduate, seemingly since breakfast?
I remember how we delighted in her teensiness. We have about thirty-leven pictures of a quarter on the back of her impossibly tiny hand. As the months and years clicked by we delighted in so many things about her, but never again would she let us mark her growth with photos of coinage on her hand. Sigh. Sometimes she could be downright mean.
In honor of her birthday, I thought I’d post an essay I wrote for a contest recently. It was linked to the TV show “Parenthood” and they had prompts you could choose to write about. I’m not really one to enter contests because it involves many things I dislike … deadlines, judging, losing, crying. (Coincidentally, the same reasons I don’t like to do laundry.) But I entered this one because one of the prompts spoke to me and the prize was a trip to the set of the show where I wanted to get close enough to lick the face of the delicious Peter Krause.
Alas, I didn’t win.
The winner got 495 votes and I was 42nd runner up with 6 (two of which were my own) …. clearly, a tight race.
But 131 essays got zero votes so I’m happy that I have at least four friends who aren’t completely lazy. Just kidding! It was a huge pain to vote so I’m not complaining. Besides, if I visited the set of Parenthood, I’d probably get so nervous I’d hork all over Mr Krause’s shoes and they probably wouldn’t let me watch the show anymore. Maybe they’d even take away my TV, disable my Hulu, and revoke my Netflix. Yes, it’s better that I lost.
But here’s the essay I wrote to the prompt “Sometimes the line between mom and friend is invisible. Tell us what you think by sharing your story with us.”
Wow. That’s A Lot Of Milk.
Lots of things are invisible. Wind. Heaven. Love. That three-day-old popcorn kernel you can feel between your teeth but somehow can’t dig out.
But that line between Mom and Friend? Nope. It’s as clear as the maternal back-breaking sidewalk crack you dared not step on.
I saw it when I was a kid and I see it now that I’m a mother. The line is never blurry, but sometimes when you’re busy with other things, you don’t always see it in time.
I’m reminded of a story I heard once, told by a man who had become a scientist. When he was a child, he spilled a gallon of milk on the floor. In that split second — that fuzzy place where logic and emotion collide — his über-generous mom realized the milk had already spilled. No use crying over it. She said, “Wow. That’s a lot of milk. Look at the interesting shape it’s made on the floor.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing because I wasn’t there. For all I know, this woman was a Martian, or a German, or possibly a Libertarian. I’m not fluent in their tongue.
The point is, I would never have done this. I’d have launched into unmitigated Mom mode, scrambling for a mop and the full fury of my knee-jerk, default Hit Parade.
These particular hits include such favorites as Why Can’t You Be More Careful?! … What Were You Thinking?! … *^%$#$&@# … and Great! Now Nobody Can Have Any Cereal. (You’ve heard ‘em, probably even said ‘em. Don’t judge me.)
It often makes me sad I’m not that scientist kid’s kind of mom. For my kids, there have always been more vegetables than ice cream … more reading than video games… more family road trips than outings to theme parks … more “What were you thinking?!” and less “Look at the interesting shape it’s made on the floor.”
But now that they’re adults, I can’t say the relationships between me and my children have suffered because I chose being their mom over being their friend. But lately it does seem like we all eat more ice cream.
What do you think? Where do you think the line is between Mom and Friend? Would you have voted for me if you could just tap your nose or point at your computer? Do you find it remarkable — possibly unbelievable — that my daughter is only 12 years older than me? What do you remember most about those first days home with your brand new baby?