“Thanks Mom” she said as I handed her a pile of clean laundry. “You’re welcome.” I turned around to fold the Fruit of the Looms but she continued.
“Thanks for bringing me into this world, for clean laundry and for helping me through hard times.”
And then she was gone.
I peered out around the corner of the laundry room. No one. I checked the liquor cabinet. No, she hadn’t gotten in there. I hadn’t heard anything crash or break recently. Christmas wasn’t coming and her birthday had come and gone.
So my daughter was being genuine? Huh. Maybe I haven’t scarred her for life after all. I worry about that. I mean, as a child, I made huge promises to myself that I’d never ever grow up and repeat the “mistakes” my parents made as they raised me. I was going to be the coolest yet best mom ever. Calm. Kind. Fair. Consistent. Likeable. Non-embarassing in public (unless I needed to threaten ultimate discipline). Cool. Hip. Successful.
Yet there are days I fear the most vivid memory my children will have of me will be my mouth wide open, eyes crossed and flames flying out of my ears.
I envision them lying on some therapist’s couch: “I can still her now Doctor. She’d fly into these hissy fits…throwing stuff away, muttering stuff about dogs and sedatives and ingrates…She had classic lines she used: ‘Oh no, don’t bother. Don’t anyone lift a finger to help me. I’ll do it, I always do. God forbid anyone else put the lid on the peanut butter and put it away. Keep that up and I’ll show up at school and have lunch with you! What do I look like, your personal slave or something?’ ”
The couch, naturally, is highest-grade Italian leather. Nicer than any piece of furniture I was ever able to give my children. And it’ll be clean. Not coated with dog toy stuffing and dog hair. No used dental floss under the cushions or drool, barf or snot stains on them.
They’ll shell out big bucks to lay on that clean couch — money they’ll be able to earn only because I, the mother who scarred them for life, spent my own therapy budget on tuition for the best schools. They’ll share how their over bearing mother spent countless late nights quizzing them for tests and dragging them to the 24-hour store to purchase poster board for a project due in the morning but assigned 6 weeks ago. How I dragged them out of bed at dawn on Saturday mornings, shoved #2 pencils in their hands and hauled them off to take the SAT. How I nagged them to complete their college applications on time. How I insisted on driving and flying them across the country to visit top-rated universities.
Yeah, they’ll spend a lot of time on that couch.
“Mom, I’m going to the library before work then I’ll finish my homework after dinner. I love you!”
Well, maybe not too much.