Life is a whole new ballgame when you realize you’re the mom.
I’m not talking about physically having children who refer to you by the name Mom. This is bigger. This is the time in your life when your children are having children, and they call you and want to talk about grown ass things.
My mom was the mom for a very long time – and man, she was so good at it. We talked every day on the phone – okay, we talked several times a day on the phone. She was the person I talked to when I didn’t know what else to do, when I knew what to do but lacked the confidence to do it, or knew what to do and didn’t want to do it. And the reason she was so good is because she wasn’t tactful. She wasn’t subtle. There was no sugar coating anything.
“Mom, should I go through with the gastric bypass?” “Well how else are you gonna not be so fat?”
“Mom, Jim wants to move to Florida.” “Well don’t listen to him, he’s an asshole.”
“Mom, Eilis just wrote with green Sharpie marker all over the white rug in the living room.” “Oh my God, she’s such a little bitch! That’s why I love her. Bring her here for a sleepover.”
See – she had an answer to all the world’s problems. And she did it almost full time, sitting at her kitchen table, wearing a nightgown, and until her later years, chain smoking cigarettes.
But here’s the thing, My mom died in 2014. And not that you’re ever “good” with that – because you never, ever truly are good after your mom dies – but life moved along and things happened, and you go from every minute of missing her and barely functioning to every day missing her and faking it until you make it. Then you realize – you’re the fucking MOM. And there’s so much pressure to do it right, to get it right, to be the kind of mom your mom was. You are the MOM.
Your child calls you every day – or you call her – at least once. And you talk about the things the MOM is supposed to have the answers to. I should know things like how to put a baby to sleep so that he isn’t poking his little head up every two hours, giving some gut wrenching cry, and manipulating his mom into bringing him into bed with them. I should know whether my daughter made the right decision with the college she picked. I should know why my child still has clean clothes to put on when I haven’t seen her put dirty clothes in the laundry room in a month.
But I don’t. I don’t have all of the answers my mom had, and I don’t know where to get them. And I’m a mush – I’m wishy washy. While I have moments of blunt brilliance, I mostly try to figure out what I think my kids want to hear, or what I think will do them the most good to hear, and I say those things – not the things the MOM would say.
At some point, I don’t know if the MOM wisdom just comes to you, or if I have to realize that I’ll never be as good at this game as my mom was.
But can anyone ever be?