I remember joking about my unborn babies, that one day these sweet little bundles of love would grow to hate my guts. That is, to morph into adolescence and become so dis-enamoured of me as to be mortifyingly embarrassed of every word and nuance that utters forth from my mouth. I distinctly recall rubbing my bulging bellies, pledging that I’d be the “cool mom”. The one that all the kids want to hang with. That I would have passles of knobby-knee’d, pimple faced giggle butts sleeping over every weekend, eating me out of house and home, playing music too loud until 3 am, constantly bogarting the television and computer, simply because their friends, my own kids, had the awesomest mom in the neighborhood. And I was okay with all that possible future dismay. Because, simply, that was in theory. In theory, I was totally okay with getting the stink-eye from my kid when I told a lame joke, or be on the receiving end of an eye-roll because I dared to laugh too loud, or *gasp* deign to be my own true self.
But nobody told me that a) it would happen so soon, and b) that it would hurt so deeply like it does.
My son is ten. He’s a righteous dude. He loves to draw, he cares about the environment, he kicks my ass on Mario Kart ever time we play, he makes me laugh with his sharp sense of humour. He has also shown, in many not so nice ways over the past couple weeks, that he is thoroughly disgusted by me.
It has broken my heart. It makes to want to curl up into a ball and wail and cry and sob and mourn. Because really, that is what it is. Mourning the passing of your own status as the center of the universe in your child’s eyes. As babies and toddlers and little children, Mama is the end-all be-all of this life. We are everything to them. We make cookies, kiss boo-boos, snuggle them to sleep, wipe tears, clean up poop, blow noses, clip toenails, hold them while they barf, guide them, help them, aid them, support them, cheer them on…. and then, as a reward, we get shit upon. Ah, how nice. To be reviled by the person (s) that you love the most in the whole world….
I remember as a young teenager, I wasn’t ever really embarrassed by my mom. She sure pissed me off many many times, and we had many rows through my teen years over many issues. But since she was the mom willing to haul us to concerts and take all of us kids (me and my friends) really cool places, I never truly felt that “cringe” with her. So, understand me that when Nicholas told me I was embarrassing him, it stuck in my belly like a serrated knife. A serrated rusty knife, covered in poison. I was humbled, I was shocked, I was brought to my knees at the power of his opinion.
Well, we were skiing. And you know, I was so excited, becoming a skier in my late 30’s, and pumped up for a fantastic day on the slopes, that I let out a jubilant “Whoo-Hoo!!!” when I saw the glorious sunshine breaking out from the clouds. My God, it was as if I decided to run around buck-naked, doing the hokey-fucking-pokey in front of everyone. “Mom”, he admonished, “Don’t do that again.”
I let out a nervous laugh. Tears sprang to my eyes. I was surprised by this, my own reaction. Then I started to think, wait a minute. Here I am, bringing you up the hill, spending oodles of cash on your sorry little ass, making an effort for you, and you alone, so that you can go skiing, and you have the nerve to tell me how to act?? You little punk, I thought to myself. You ungrateful little butt-head.
I took him aside, and I leaned down and I told him that. Well, gentler words, of course, but I do think I still used the phrase Jack-Ass on him. I asked him if I need to change who I am now, to suit his own needs. Should I stop being ME??? Granted, what others find annoying in me is what I hate the most about myself. Nobody needs to be reminded of what they already dislike about their true selves. Let alone from your own child who hasn’t even touched puberty yet.
It has made me realise how powerful the emotion of embarrassment is. So, you know, when either my son or my daughter decides to flout my authority, you can be guaranteed I will threaten them with the possibility of me showing up at their school dressed like a homeless methed-out memaw, complete with the messed up hair, ugly house dress that I found at the Salvation Army and a blacked out tooth, asking them if they “Needs a ride home with their Mama…..” And then I’m going to hug them and kiss them making sure the bright pink lipstick I smeared around my lips gets smooched right onto their cheek.
That’ll teach them.