On Turning Into Our Mothers

It is slowly happening to me – that old cliche’.

I find myself talking to strangers in the grocery store aisle. Catching my victim’s eye, I exclaim,“Gawd, I hate how they promote things as having no ‘high fructose corn syrup’ and then the first ingredient is corn syrup.” The lady smiles kindly and we exchange a few sentences. Shortly thereafter, I regret having put myself out there, as I keep running into this person and now she likely feels obliged to continue to make conversation with me. I can hear “The Thrill is Gone” playing in my head, and undoubtedly, she is as relieved as I am, when she finally says, “Well, have a good day. I’m going home.”

My mom talks to everybody.

She genuinely likes everybody. Unlike me, she doesn’t find them immediately tiresome, nor does she worry they find her tiresome.

No doubt, she annoys people. Lots of ’em. Daily.

She will insert herself into situations, offering money if someone turns up short on funds while checking out of a store. She remembers being there herself, so when I tell her she might embarrass someone, she offers that hadn’t thought of that aspect. There was no judgment involved on her part. She just wanted to help.

She pounces on the disabled, offering to reach things for them or push them around. It speaks well of our local wheelchair-bound folks that none of them have told her to fuck off. Once again, her heart is in exactly the right place.

She really understands deep down that we are all in this together, and she takes that whole “love thy neighbor” thing to new heights. She is absolutely the kind of person people take advantage of. Once, over the phone, she told me, “My new neighbor called my cell. She needed some detergent so I told her I was at work, but the door was unlocked so she could find it herself.” If she had been in the room with me, she could have seen my head explode. But, really, she does the right thing. The crazy thing. The dumb thing. But, the right thing. The thing that involves loving and trusting people.

And, you know what? Maybe that can work, if for no other reason than that it catches people off guard, so it’s more difficult for them to then turn around and be assholes.

Having my own daughter helped to put me on the road to being my mother. I was very self-absorbed, and when Charlotte came along, it became nearly impossible to maintain a respectable level of selfishness. How can you, when you are eating the burnt part of the meal you ruined while helping your kid learn to tie her shoes?

Priorities change. We learn that the most important part of us is the part that we offer to others with no expectation. That is the stuff that makes our souls bigger, and as a result, sometimes, lovely people make us crayon drawings.

Thank you, Mom, for being such an amazing example of how to be a good person. This is my version of a crayon drawing for you.

Maybe if I try very hard and I get very lucky, I will somehow find it in myself to turn into my mother.

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