Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Mother, My Friend

My mom and I had what I would call your average mother/daughter relationship when I was growing up. We never had the screaming and slamming doors fights that I occasionally witnessed between some of my friends and their mothers nor did we have the close "sit down with a cup of tea and chat" mother-daughter bond that I knew could exist. We had our disagreements but they were typically short-lived. For the most part we got along although I rarely shared with her when it came to boys, peer pressure, sex and the like. It wasn't that she was oblivious to my teenage world, it was more that she let my sister and me be independent but if we screwed up (and we certainly did) then she got involved. I sometimes wanted to tell her about my crush on a certain boy or the fight I had with a girlfriend but mostly she wanted to hear about my schoolwork or my dance classes so the rest I divulged to my older sister who I relied on heavily to commiserate with over teenage girl things. The one time that I can recall discussing my personal life with mom was senior year of high school when I was spending a lot of time alone, as it seemed my friends had decided to exclude me for some unknown reason. She wanted to know why I was sitting at home on Friday night, why I didn't call Aimee or Jen or Kristin so I filled her in. Her response, stated in a much more "momly" way of course, was basically "fuck 'em". It was probably the first time I felt that she understood my life.

We could only take each other in small doses, putting some distance between my mom and me from time to time was essential. Once I went away to college, we seemed to enjoy our time together more but by the end of a weekend visit we would start snapping at each other and I knew it was time to be on my way. I realize now that it was probably because we were much more similar than I was willing to admit. I knew I could never move back in with my parents after college the way my sister did to save money and pay off bills. Instead, my sister and I got an apartment together and I immediately started making plans to move to New York. I knew I would miss my family when I moved but I figured it wouldn't affect my mom any differently than when I left for college. There was no resistance from her when I announced my move, no "my baby is leaving" sentiment. The move itself went smoothly, save for a massive thunderstorm that rolled in while we were unloading the U-Haul, but as my parents climbed in their car to make the drive back to Pennsylvania my mom looked at me and simply said "I'm really gonna miss you." It was the first time she had ever said anything so poignant and the tears rolled down my face as I watched them drive away.

That was a changing day in my relationship with my mom and I looked forward to the visits she made, day trips either with my dad for sightseeing or with my sister so she could take us shopping. I was slowly seeing her has more than just my mother who would get angry when I got a B- in algebra II or left my shoes on the steps instead of taking them to my room. I saw that we could get along, maybe not in the same way as other mothers and daughters, but we definitely could. So when I decided to take a surf trip to Mexico for my 28th birthday I invited her to come with me. And she accepted. Just me and mom, and we had so much fun. Everyone in the surf group thought she was adorable and told me over and over how great she was. And I agreed. Sure, she drove me nuts a few times (whose mother doesn't?) but those instances paled in comparison to the surfing, horseback riding and margarita drinking. She told me again and again how impressed she was by my surfing ability and I could tell that she really meant it. But no one was more impressed than me. I was impressed that this woman, at 57 years old, hopped on a surfboard with no hesitation, did early morning yoga every day and giggled over the cute guy with the puppy that I befriended one evening. I was impressed that we finally had become friends.

(My mom, surfing Sayulita, Mexico, January 2005)


Jayne said...

That's so cool that your mom went surfing with you!

and I remember that storm when we were moving in to our New York apartment. Wasn't it hot as hell that day, too?

Felis Femina said...

It was probably 95 degrees and humid and then the storm hit. And we were in a hurry because we had to return the U-Haul in Jersey City before 6pm. What a day that was!

Anonymous said...

OK so your ma on a Surfboard is about the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. You know, she was practically a surrogate mom to me for some years! I do hope that you pass a message along to her that I say hello. Reading your writings brings me back and I love the feelings it brings forward from our past. BTW, I had a similar experience with loneliness in my senior year. It must be what they call growing up. Love you K!