10 May 2013

memories of mom

This past few weeks have been pretty tough in my household. My partner and I prepare for the inevitable passing of his mother and we can simply wait. At one of our weekday date nights, he brought up the topic of memorable mom stories. And he shared them with me over wine and veggies outside of our favorite vegetarian restaurant.

His mom was a tough broad while he was growing up. She never panicked when her boys got scraped up or hurt. She handled things in stride. Today, she's still pretty tough; it's one of the things that I'll remember about her most.

It got me thinking about my mom and what images of her are strongest from my formative years. As a young kid in Brooklyn,I was always impressed by my mother's even keel. She was not a hysterical person--maybe that's just a mom thing. The most profound thing I recall is the time that I made my mother cry. It was the first time that I realized that parents were human and not deities.

As a teen I was creative, emotional, way too smart, and much too adventurous. I broke the house rules one too many times and instead of taking my punishment--a severe grounding and a stern talking to from both mom and dad--I chose to move out and live with a distant relative in New York. I left abruptly while they were at work, taking my clothes and books, and emptying my savings account.  In NYC I was miserable but functioning; I got good grades in school and handled my chores reluctantly. Then I called home.

Although mom and dad knew where I was and that I was safe, they were struck that I'd choose an unfamiliar roof to call home. When mom got on the phone her voice cracked with emotion. I could almost see the tears fill her eyes. While she didn't sob, I heard the pain in her voice as she asked how I was "getting on" in the new home. She sniffled a few times before asking me what she had done to make me want to leave. I was 17 and I had broken my mother's heart.

The tears on the phone were my first indication that the strong woman who bore me, encouraged me, and kissed away my childhood pains was made of flesh and blood; just like me.

That's all I got.  Happy Mother's Day.