Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fête des Mères

Twenty years ago, you could find me rummaging through her closet full of shoes, not letting a single pointed-toe stiletto get past my adolescent foot. There was an immediate attraction to all pairs measuring above a 3-inch heel and an aversion to the white pairs, flats and of course, Sperry Top-Siders. I’d then progress to her makeup drawer, applying every Clinique eye shadow and Sugarplum shade lipstick she had collected in the “Free Gift” purchases, which was a lot. Fast forward to present day and (when I’m not wandering about Europe) you’ll still find me sitting in front of her closet on our weekly Monday Mother & Daughter Night, assessing her obscene sum of shoes purchases. As for the makeup, I no longer have the need to delve around her makeup bag because now instead of getting one “Free Gift with Purchase,” she buys two and wraps one up for me.

My mom and I go back a quarter of a century. She’s beautiful, intelligent, audacious, and doesn’t accept enough credit. She loves all things New Orleans, purple and gold, and has still manages to cling to her Southern slang. She’s the impetus to my autonomy, love of ketchup, and addressing groups as “Ya’ll.” No longer does she question my desire to live in France, and in return, I refrain from criticizing her lengthy voicemail messages or inability to cook vegetables. Spoiler alert: Don’t use a microwave ;) After 25 years, we may not have it perfected, but we’ve got a knack for this whole Mother-Daughter thing. It works for us.

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, between the days of taking me to preschool and taking me to the airport to board a plane to France, our relationship transformed; these past two years, especially. We had our ups, our downs, lefts, and rights, two steps forward and one step back. We talked it out in therapy and we shopped it out in Macy’s. We had moments of feeling dejected with a side of sorrow and a heaping measure of grudge, but we processed, discussed, and then found a pair of Nine West heels in our respective sizes with an extra 40% off.

There have been tears, arguments, slammed doors, misunderstandings, defensiveness, and even days without talking. But more importantly, there was forgiveness. There was laughing, advice seeking, story exchanging, inside jokes, nonfat-grande-extra-hot-decaf-cappuccinos from Starbucks, and mini-half-vanilla-half-cake-batter-frozen yogurt from Golden Spoon. There was acceptance and appreciation for each other’s idiosyncrasies rather than the previous desire to change them. The last couple of years, when life seemed to be a quarter-life emotional rut, I leaned on her for a crutch and she helped me to stand on my own two feet again. Without her support, I might still be in that rut.

While there was a time when it seemed that her and I were too dependent on each other, we’ve learned. Learned that love doesn’t mean leaning, and company doesn’t always mean security.[1] And now? Now our relationship feels the most secure to date. I’m sure we’ll encounter future tangles, future spats, future therapists’ couches, but with each disparity, we gain a little more insight, a little more genuineness, and a little more strength.

So Mom,
Thank you. I love you. I really miss you. Happy Mother’s Day.

[1] “After A While” Poem by Veronica Shoffstall


  1. This is so sweet! Mom/daughter relationships can be so complicated, but, ultimately, so fulfilling and unlike any other relationship. I'm sure you miss your mom so much (and I'm sure she misses you). This is a great little gift to her :)

  2. this is so cute. i did a letter post to my mom too but i am to chicken to give her the letter!

    haha you mom and my mama would prolly get along like peas and mom lives laughs and loves the big-n-easy and clings to her southern roots. she's a pro at everything creole, jambalaya, crawifish and smoked meat. she is just amazing at carrying on conversation, being opinionated and well mannered. love her.
    i couldnt imagine life without my mom seriously. we've had our falling outs but her love is so unconditional nothing can break our relationship.

    hope your mom reads this!

  3. Aw, your mom will be so happy to read this! I loved reading about your memories of sitting in front of her closet. My mum isn't big on shoes but I used to raid her button tin like a magpie. On a random unrelated note, I didn't know you were 25 :P I am too.