Monday, May 11, 2009
Apple Falling Far From The (Much Better) Tree
This is my mother. There is one thing I have understood about my mother for nearly all my life: she and I are essentially different, made from completely different elements.
My mother is kind and patient; I am both hasty and bossy. She is quiet and measured as I talk far too much. Once (in summers before sunscreen, in warm grass on a sunny quilt with lotion and a book), her skin would turn nut-brown, while my own white skin would burn, turn pink, and then back to white.
My mother is braver, steadier, surer than I will ever be: she once rode wild ponies bareback, flew planes, bore a nearly ten-pound baby without epidural. (Please note: that was Croptop Dickie, not me. Can you believe the nerve on that guy?)
My mother is dependable and true, and I am frequently ridiculous. As a preteen, reading novel after novel about ridiculous mothers and their long-suffering daughters, I secretly pined for one of those creatures: a messy, wounded woman-child to care for, scream at, endure. My own mother made dinner every day at five, folded underwear, stroked foreheads. Honestly, how would I ever write a book?
My mother takes tender care of old, tired horses; I can scarcely make myself emotionally available to my cat.
My mother believes--has always believed--in me, consistently overestimating my talents, my stories, my everything. Once, after I applied a thick layer of orange foundation from the drugstore, she told me, "You don't need that; you're a natural beauty, just like Doris Day."
And that, I suppose, is where she and I converge: we are both well-meaning bullshitters. (Did you see how I ruined this with a swear? She would never do that.)