The first day of school brought with it many wonderful traditions, but one of my favorites was pulling up a pair of brand new, fresh elastic, white nylon knee highs. They were thin and tight and refused to puddle around my ankles those first few weeks of September. Even more exciting was the year that my mother nodded her head at the ZCMI sock sale when I held up a pair of orange and blue tie dyed toe socks.
They went with nothing.
And I wore them with everything.
I had a peculiar sort of fashion sense back then. Thus, classy to me was black patent leather church shoes worn with a swimming suit and green flood pants. My mother tried to squelch me, but I was too clever for that, wrapping myself in a coat and hiding my shoes out in the milk box away from her prying, judgmental eyes. And sure, people questioned her parenting skills for miles around, once they caught sight of me. But she should have just been happy to know that her daughter had a very strong sense of misguided confidence.
What others might call stubborn, I like to call determined. This kept my mother humble. One hot July afternoon, I decided I’d like some candy and since we were fresh out, I took matters into my own hands. Digging through the Halloween boxes, I found my witch costume, put it on, and while my mother was busy sewing, snuck out of the house to go trick-or-treating throughout the neighborhood. Everyone seemed absolutely tickled to see me. They were especially curious about whether or not my mother knew where I was? I lied and said yes, she knew. That she had, in fact, sent me out to get her some candy, and that York Peppermint Patties were her favorite.
Needless to say, after the phone stopped ringing, the Halloween box was put clear up out of my reach, and from that day forward things were never quite the same again. But Lisa became a household name and my legacy lived on for years to come, as I’d set a certain precedence of ingenuity and resolve. That’s the way I chose to see it anyway. I saw a lot of things the way I wanted to.
For instance, in my mind’s eye, I was a beautiful, blond, long haired princess, much like Aurora laying on her canopied bed. The reality was more along the lines of shoulder length dirty dishwater mop with crooked bangs and a softball sized rat’s nest at the base of my neck. I nearly drove my poor mother insane, bawling and screaming when she tried to brush through it, earning me a rap on the head with the handle and a threat to cut it all off, if I didn’t get the snarls out. This brought even louder howls of “I WILL, MOTHER! I PROMISE!” But I didn’t. Because it hurt. Instead I just smoothed the longer strands over the wad of knots and never turned my back to her.
My mother spent a lot of time talking about her hopes and dreams for me, all of them ending with her anticipation that I should be gifted with a child “JUST LIKE YOU!” And I smiled at the prospect, because who wouldn’t want a child just like me? Turns out the answer is me. I probably wouldn’t want a child just like me.
Enter my daughter. When she was about three years old and her nickname was Scream, I told the Lord I was receiving no joy from her, and He would need to fix that.
He just walked away eating peanuts and chuckling to Himself. Or so I imagined.
But He threw me a tender mercy and gave her long, blond, Princess Aurora hair, which seemed to appease me as I lived vicariously through her ringlets. Then a couple of years ago, somebody asked me why it was I took such pleasure in swirling and twirling her tresses, and I paused to think, then uttered these ludicrous words;
“Well, it seems like when I was a child, my mother never really wanted to spend any time on my hair. She just didn’t care. So now I do for my daughter what my mother never did for me.”
Yes, that’s right. I ACTUALLY SACRIFICED MY MOTHER on the altar of “I’m pretty sure it went down like that.” AND I’M A GROWN UP, PEOPLE! I should know better! Bless my foggy recollection heart. Which means if I am capable of such self deception, you should be scared to death of what your own children are likely to remember wrong about you! NONE OF US ARE SAFE!
Which brings me to my long over due apology: Mother, forgive me, for I led the world astray regarding your patience and long suffering. You were the wind beneath my wings, and the broom under my trick-or-treating fanny...and I am forever grateful that I was gifted with a mother JUST LIKE YOU!
Oh, and I’m very sorry that I ate your peppermint patty.