6/25/08

My Mother's Daughter

"When I was a kid..."

"Please Mom, don't, we know all about your tortured childhood".

This conversation is the running joke in my household. A few years back, my daughter would sit and listen intently to every detail of every childhood story I could remember. These days, she sits in dread when the subject is broached.

I think back on my own teen years and my relationship with my mother. I can remember weekends on end where she and I would sit with a bowl of homemade popcorn (Yes, the kind where you have to shake the pan until your arms feel like coming off) and lemonade and watch old movies. By OLD movies, I mean the musicals and mysteries of the 1940's and 1950's. One can still occasionally catch one of these on AMC or some other "oldie" channel, but the horrific news is that these days, most of the "old" movies on AMC are from my era. Whoever thought "Dirty Dancing" was a golden classic. Come on people, it's still a great modern lesson in life.

I watched "Dirty Dancing" with my daughter not so long ago and she had never heard of vacations in the Ozarks. If you don't understand the glamour and exclusivity of those vacations, you don't get the rich girl, poor boy connection between the characters. So, it was a waste of time except she said perhaps SOME of the dancing and drama were entertaining. But she really got tired of my having to explain to her the concept behind the drama. I don't remember those 40's and 50's movies being that hard for the different generations to relate to together. Then again, the teens are sleeping with one another in "Dirty Dancing", so I at least got to explain to her the never ending, never aging crisis that teens from generation to generation face. That's at least one thing that keeps us talking - the commonalities of her teen years to mine - few but still... According to her my teen years were the dorkiest times on the planet.

The most traumatizing part of my being a mother is the fact that I catch myself doing and saying the same things my mother used to say to me. And they aren't the things that made me smile. They are the comments where I would ALWAYS roll my eyes and wish she would disappear at that particular moment. For instance, a few weeks ago, I caught myself giving the "milk and cow" story. For crying out loud, can we not come up with a more modern analogy!?

How many times have I said to her in her fifiteen years "Can't never could!". Oh, and then there's the "if your friends told you to jump off a bridge would you!?" The fortunate part of my life is that I have a certain disability that causes me to never remember to exact detail the comments and stories, so I get them a little confused and I can then claim at least a portion of originality in their telling.

Fifteen, nearly sixteen years ago, I gave birth (o.k. didn't even get that right, there was an emergency c-section) to an incredibly beautiful daughter. Her beauty in her growth has far surpassed the beauty I remember in myself growing up. Unfortunately, I wish now I could take back all those eye rolls and sighs that I rewarded my own poor mother with in my early years. It's an incredible revelation to realize that my own mother may have actually known a thing or two. I won't tell her that even though she's now still quite sharp in her elder years. That would only result in yet another "I told you so" and there are only so many of those a daughter can take in one lifetime. I am thinking I have about another gazillion to go before my daughter actually DOES jump off a bridge.

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