As the dust settles from our very emotional holiday season, and I find my home life has fallen back into its routine. Everyone seems to be getting along, happy to be back to our normal. My daughter and I are finding our way again and it all feels perfect.
See, here’s the thing, my own childhood was very unconventional. My mother worked full time at Universal Studios which was an hour commute both ways. Her 10 hour work days plus commute time didn’t leave much time for her kids. My brother and I had our dad, our maternal grandmother, and of course each other. At the time that was my normal. It wasn’t until I was older did I realize how much I missed having a relationship with my mother, and all the things a mother teaches her daughter.
20 weeks pregnant and I have the ultrasound that determines just about everything including the sex of the child. When the ultrasound technician asked me if I wanted to know the sex of my baby I said yes because I had already decided that I was having a boy.
Well no, no I wasn’t…. I was having a girl. I cried immediately because I thought….. How am I going to do this? My mother didn’t prepare me for life, and certainly not motherhood. My relationship with her was ass-backward, but that’s ok, I thought. I can do this. (Now let me interject by saying that God is good and very smart because the way our lives turned out, there is NO WAY I could have raised a boy alone). At the time, I didn’t realize I was about to be a single parent. But several months later, I was and then I thanked God once again for knowing more than me.
Raising my daughter was a piece of cake up until recently. I just loved her the best I could and took the advice of other moms who did know better. Everything I needed to know I somehow did. Most of the time, my instincts just carried me through. I did then, and still do love our relationship. It could have gone south so many times, but I was determined to be a better mom. To be present, loving, and be there when she needed me most.
As my daughter got older and we started to experience the joy of amusement parks I decided to take her to Universal Studios. I hadn’t been there in years since my mom retired to then be a stay home mom (I was already out of the house). I booked a hotel for us and we did my favorite type of commuting (the train/subway) which dropped us off right at the park and hotel. We had a great time (we always do), but I couldn’t help feeling resentful of this theme park for taking my mothers time and attention for all those years.
So I had an idea, bring Mom back to the place where she spent the majority of my childhood and maybe just maybe she will have a moment of regret, or sadness, or something. I guess I really wanted her to see what she chose over my brother and me. Ok, not the best intentions on my part but I felt the need for closure. Or maybe, it was some type of validation, at least an understanding of the impact this place had on my life.
So the three of us took the train, then the subway and the shuttle to the suite I booked for us at the Universal hotel. We had a beautiful room and it was on the fancy floor that had a clubhouse where we could get free food around the clock. I love hotels so that was enough for me, well almost.
We hung out at City Walk on Saturday and had plans to visit the park the next day. As the park opened Sunday morning and we went in I could see her face filled with wonder and excitement. I pouted, as she relived memories that only she knew, then proceeded to educate my daughter on how much the park had changed. Hmmmm, my plan wasn’t going as I thought…okay, well might as well make the most of it.
One of my favorite rides is the Mummy so off my mini me and I went with plans to catch up with my mom after. Surely she would take this time to reflect on her life there and maybe have some regret?
After riding the Mummy ride two times back to back my phone rings and it’s my Mom “come to the lower level museum, hurry” So we run over to find my mother taking pictures with tourists… I’m thinking what the hell, as she points to a collage of pictures on the wall. There, hung pictures of the first years of Universal Studios, and they were all of HER! The first of many of her positions was one of the very first tour guides, she was promoted quickly to doing private tours to the stars.
Once she found the pictures, she began to tell all the people around her that the girl in the picture was her and they, of course, wanted to take selfies with the lady on the wall. I sat there speechless and then just laughed. My mother was in all her glory cheesing for the camera and then asking that I send my brother the pics that caused all the excitement. Shit.
Lesson learned: don’t ever try to create an agenda that you hope will produce a specific reaction out of someone else. I know my intentions were not pure, I was looking for some type of validation from her, an apology, something. Instead, I was reminded that it is NOT all about me. My Mother did the best she could and she did have joy in her life, even though it wasn’t just being my mom. She was exactly where she was supposed to be. Funny thing is, so am I.
This does explain why I am so extra when it comes to my daughter. No doubt my childhood experience made a better mother, and now MY daughter is teaching me how to be a better daughter.
Currently, my Mom is not doing well. She has survived multiple myeloma and been in remission for 16 years although they predicted five. She served as my co-parent raising my daughter for the last 14 years and is truly an inspiration to me and so many others. But now her body is tired and she is battling heart and respiratory problems. Our time together might be years or months, but I can say that the resentment and anger I had once toward her is gone. I am grateful that, although I didn’t get the time and attention I wanted from her, my daughter did. And as adults, she is my biggest source of support.
So big picture, you don’t always get what you want…. but if you let him, God will give you exactly what you need.
With positivity and love to my top 3… I love you A.K.