As far back as I can remember I was never Mommy’s little doll. Although pictures tell a somewhat different story, in my memory, we were never the mother/daughter duo I see all over my Facebook feed from today’s moms or even what I remember from my own friends growing up. I blamed this most solidly on my younger brother’s existence and then simply on my mom probably not liking me very much, which of course was her own fault, because I am totally likable! Seven years ago I gave birth to my first two children: twins, one boy and one girl. I gave birth essentially to a tiny replica of myself, from her blue eyes, to her dimpled cheek to the way she swings her hips and the sassy way she talks. It was then that I thought maybe, possibly, there was a chance that some of the blame for my mine and my mom’s relationship belonged to me.
Sometimes no matter how hard I’m working toward that mother/daughter duo, my daughter just doesn’t see it. Back in the Fall her school had a mother daughter night. I signed us up and was really looking forward to going despite the fact that people, especially mothers from her school, are really not my thing. Anyway, Monday I started getting sick, by Tuesday I had lost my voice and Thursday night I had body aches and chills. Friday at work, I sat balled up at my desk rocking back and forth, unable to eat lunch and praying my meds would kick in so I could get through the next few hours and get home for a nap before mother daughter night.
When we walked in the door of the school that night, I was already sweating. My fever was breaking as they ushered us into the cafeteria to do Zumba. Wait! Pump the brakes! What the hell? On Daddy/Daughter night they got to dress up and dance, it was like a little date night. Now I had to do Zumba in skinny jeans and Toms, without a sports bra, someone apparently wanted me dead. And did I mention I had ten stitches in my scalp at the time. But I pushed forward, I zumbaed despite my clothes sticking to me and feeling like I was dying. I jumped around and swung my arms and shook my shakable body parts, until finally my sweet baby looked up at me and said, “let’s get some water and sit down.” So we got water and we sat down and we watched the super mother daughter duos zumba. Irie sat looking longingly at the little aerobicizers so I offered to go back out. She told me I could sit, but she hopped up and went back on the floor. I sat for maybe a song and watched my beautiful, vibrant little girl zumba alone and I thought this is one of those times when I could be with her, when I could enjoy what she enjoys and show her that I like her, so I got up and I went back out to finish up with her.
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur; we played a game, did a craft, ate some ice cream and headed home. We walked in the back door of my childhood home and found my husband and two boys eating pizza and watching Batman. He asked how it went. “It was fun,” Irie told him, “but Mommy sat down instead of exercising with me.” I felt like I had been hit in the stomach. Her voice was so full of disappointment and sass. I reminded her of the three songs I had powered through before sitting, my husband reminded her I had been sick for a week, but she only argued that I had sat down when she wanted to dance.
I walked away, through the same small hallway my own mother had passed through, by the same laundry room where she had washed countless loads of my laundry, even when I was in college, and into the kitchen where she had cooked numerous mundane meals and I cried. And I wondered how many times my own mother had tried to reach out to me, how many times had she chosen what I wanted over what she needed and how many times had I thrown that back in her face with my lack of gratitude, with my own short sightedness that comes with ignorance of a mother’s sacrifice? My mother always made those sacrifices look so easy and I don’t know, maybe for her they were. Maybe she got some selfless gene that I lack, but I can’t imagine that I didn’t hurt her from time to time with my egocentricity. Because looking back I see her life as a constant giving in to what everyone around her wanted, whether it was what to watch on TV or where to go for dinner or vacation. Even after I had children, my mother quit her job, her little bit of independence, to take care of my twins while I worked and she never accepted a penny. She made mothering so easy for me because she picked up my worries and took care of them for me. I often told her how thankful I was for all she did, but I never told her I was sorry for the times in my youth I pushed her away because she was taken from me before I ever realized my crime. I just hope if it is true that my daughter is so very much like her mother, that one day I can be like mine.