I recently attended a bridal shower in Philadelphia with my daughter. I skipped out of town early, looking forward to having a whole hotel room to myself, my book and my tormented mind. When my daughter finally arrived, I was uber-excited to see her. Now that she’s married we rarely get to have girl time.
And, she went and got a stinking cat, to which I am hugely allergic. Which she knows and did anyway. I think we can all detect that not-so-subliminal message: Felines translate to abbreviated surprise maternal visitation.
I had a list of activities: We’d go to dinner, have drink, snacks, more drinks, and shopping! But if my schedule was jam-packed with all these hijinks, why-oh-why was she hauling a crate of files and a laptop into my haven of a hotel room?
“Mom. We can have a quick dinner downstairs. But then I have to work for the rest of the night.”
Shoulder drooping, I asked: “It would be very bad for me to go out without you, wouldn’t it?”
She flung what she refers to as her “icy glare of resentment” across the room in my direction, and I had my answer.
“Well, at least run to Target with me. I forgot underwear.”
“Fine. But that’s all for the fun and games. I’ll be up until midnight as it is.”
She knows me. Target really does classify as “fun and games.”
Despite her working all night, we had a spectacular weekend. As she’s gotten older, I don’t grate on her nerves as much as I used to, although I can still annoy the crap out of her simply by “sneezing theatrically.” And God help us all if I talk with my mouth full. Especially if its full of something colorful, like cherry Jell-O or blue Pixy Stix.
She still sighs deeply when I tell her what I interpret as a juicy story, which probably is only titillating to me.
She’ll say: “Why do you even care, mom?”
The answer: Because I care about gossip. That’s why. Stories of psychic mediums, or a Real Housewife’s astonishing divorce (I am talking about you, Luanne), or the high school Mean Girl’s wedding, tend to bore her. But hilarious anecdotes about my childhood shenanigans or legendary tales of her grandparents’ lives absolutely delight her.
She’s hard to read. Some days she’s Tolstoy, other days, Dr. Seuss. My daughter is a prism of many colors, and it’s hard to know what color she’ll be when there’s a full moon or the barometric pressure increases.
Still, I adore her.
It’s true; I’m more her daughter, and she’s more my mother. She certainly is more mature than me, much less judgmental and generally better put-together than I. She’s a Rubik’s Cube, and I’m a Slinky. She certainly wouldn’t forget her underwear for an overnight trip.
She finished her work, and, as I was drifting off to sleep — because I have to tell you, those Hilton mattresses must have straight melatonin sewn into the threads of the sheets — she whispered to me across the bed: “Thanks for being with me this weekend. You really are a good mom.”
I felt tears prickling my old, wrinkled eyes.
She really does love me.
I knew it.
Even though I was playing with my hair over dinner and she reprimanded me. She raised me right.
She may be a complicated Rubik’s Cube: intense, serious and sometimes puzzling, but I will forever be her Slinky — crazy, tangled, but reliable. And I will consistently snap back to the first step of where I belong: always her mother. Always.