When I was in high school. I thought my mother knew nothing about anything and even less about me. I didn’t want to listen to anything she had to say because things were different for her. She didn’t have to deal with the realities of the nineties. I was growing up in an era where skinny girls were called heroine chic and that was a good thing. My generation was the first to experience good music (or so I thought), and as I mourned the passing of Kurt Cobain by finding solace in the words of Eddie Vedder. I just knew my mother would never understand. She grew up in the seventies, after all. She was a beauty queen who dated the school’s star athlete. I ate my lunch outside the science lab because nobody understood me. What could she know about how tortured I was? I didn’t even have the right Doc Marten’s.
First of all, she tried to keep me away from my high school boyfriend. He was bad news then and like a moth to a flame, so is an emo girl drawn to a bad boy (even if his version of bad is drinking his parents peppermint schnapps behind the bowling alley). She intercepted phone calls and notes (notes were like texts in the nineties) to keep us apart. I was ‘in love’, and I knew he was ‘the one.’ Even as I type that now, a feeling stirs inside me. It’s more nausea, than love, but it’s visceral just the same. He’s a married father of four now and I shudder to imagine what might have been. So, yes mom, you were right.
And then I went off to University and felt like I would be broke and jobless forever. She had the nerve to tell me that if I stuck it out I would be glad I did because even with a crippling student loan I would be happier in the long run if I stayed in school. Having not been born with the skills for customer service of any kind I took her advice and perseverated through three degrees (each more useless than the previous but degrees just the same). “An academic was allowed to be dramatic and practically encouraged to be sour” she would say. I stayed in school far too long and perfected those personality traits and they’ve served me well in my writing career to date. So, again mother, you were right.
When I finally found my way out of the campuses, I found someone ready to share my overly dramaticized life and he was even willing to have children, knowing full well there was a good chance they would inherit my adorable angry demeanor and we married and made baby girls and my mother said, with a satisfied smile: “Soon, you will understand what it is like to raise a child just like you.”
And, just today my eldest said to me, at just six and a half years old:
“Mama, you never understand me! You just don’t get it. I want Grandma!”
And once more, Grandma. You were right.