Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day to an Imperfect Mom

Mom, this Mother’s Day I want to say thank you not for your unconditional love (who really has that anyway?) or your sacrifices (mothers aren’t the only ones who sacrifice, you know), but for your imperfections. For all the times you made the wrong parenting choices.

Remember that one night we had banana splits for supper? Not exactly the stuff of child-rearing books, is it? In fact, in a highly unscientific poll I conducted, 10 out of 10 doctors and dentists agree: don’t do this. But I’ll never forget that night—piling crushed pineapple, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate syrup on top of my bananas and finishing the whole thing off with an impressive mound of canned whipped cream. From time to time health must be sacrificed for memories.

Thank you for all those times you didn’t make me and my brother wear our seatbelts and left us home alone when we were just wee little elementary-aged children. Holy crap, you totally would have been arrested if you were a parent today! Yet, somehow we survived. Hmmm.

In fact, thank you for all the times you weren’t there for me. All the times you didn’t entertain me and I had to be creative and entertain myself. All the times I just had to figure things out on my own. “Where are the parents?” all the moms of today would scream at you. You would be shunned at playdates and the park.

You did, admittedly, do some things right: gave me a love of Jackson Browne, and books, and the ocean. You gave me ability to see humor in a dark situation. You gave me a deep-seated hatred of the mall and cash registers that I will always cherish. But that’s not what I’m thanking you for today.

Today I’m thanking you for all the times you yelled when you should have hugged and all the times you hugged when you should have yelled. All the second-hand smoke and R-rated movies. That one time you snuck me into a bar when I was only twenty. Thank you. We don’t have to be perfect at this parenting thing. Sometimes we just have to get through the day. And you got me through thousands of days and thousands of menacing nights when monsters lurked under my bed and beasts haunted from the closet.

And just the other day, I went to call you. I searched for your name on my phone, pushed Mom and was confused when the call wouldn’t go through. I tried again and again until I finally realized I was Mom in the contact list I share with my son’s phone. I was trying to call myself. The circle has closed.

Banana splits for supper tonight.

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