Sunday, May 08, 2011

 

A Note to My Mother

Recently, I’ve had a few meetings at Padelford Hall at University of Washington. Every time I park my car in that janky parking lot and ride up those creepy escalators, I think about how my mom must have felt the first time she took me to my college.

Why the university has anything for new students in that building, I will never understand. That building makes the Winchester Manson look simple.

I, of course, remember little of the day. We went there, “we” found my testing rooms, we did all the things you have to do before you start college.

As I think back now, I have a whole new appreciation for my mother. I try to picture myself, taking Rebekah up that nasty escalator in that strange parking lot, evidence of homeless dwellers everywhere. And then entering that maze of a building and trying to get figure out where the heck we needed to be to take tests that cost me hundreds of dollars (that my daughter promptly failed). I don’t remember my mom being stressed out at all. I’m sure she was. I know my mom. She was stressed out. But why don’t I remember it?

My grandfather passed away last December. As the family was sitting around reminiscing, we started talking about the trip we all took to Minnesota the summer before my 5th grade year. My mom pointed out that she had sprained her ankle when we got to the cabin.

Again, I hadn’t remembered that. I remember a fun week, frolicking with all of my cousins. Now that I have three small children, I know exactly what it would be like to be at a lake cabin, cooking and cleaning for a houseful of kids on “vacation” with my husband’s family (as opposed to my own family, who I could bitch and be nasty with and they’d be genetically disposed to put up with me) and to have a sprained ankle.

But again, I only have only the vaguest of memories of a sprained ankle.

I think most people with good mothers remember them in this way. We remember them less as people and more like the constant guiding force that was just in the peripheral. Maybe a little like the sky. I know I look up at the sky every day of my life, but no single particular images of the sky come to mind when I think of the sky. I appreciate the sky, and think it’s beautiful and am very grateful that it is protecting me from space, but I take it for granted and so does my memory.

Tina Fey’s poem, A Prayer for My Daughter, has a great ending:


And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


Lately the delayed gratitude for my mother has been washing over me. This morning I make a Mental Note to call her.

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