Sunday, May 11, 2014

my Blessed Mother Ship

"I know your Mom --- she's da awesomest." Those were the recent words of our four-year-old, and I might add to them today, in the spirit of parental odes and the month of May, which is special to my family in many ways.

Who can be objective about their own mother? Maybe that's a futile goal anyway --- since the unique status of mother and child means a tenderness that defies general description. My brother and I have felt the ferocity of our mother's protection in a hundred ways, giving us a timeless oasis of security. It was memorably expressed when he sought to deploy her talents on some high school official who had smited him: "Give them your Cruella Deville, Mom, I know you can do it." (She declined, as I recall --- and he got to sit in detention.)

Anyone who knows my mom sucks air if I mention that she's a twin ~ their disbelief is suspended when the clarification comes. A twin brother. Fraternal twins. We all know there's only one Margaret.

If Gilda Radner and Jacqueline Onassis commingled into one being, my mom would still be cooler. She favors Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair: I'll be in the corner with Strunk & White. In hindsight, I realize she knew all about Dylan Thomas --- but she let me breathlessly share my discovery of his work and the companionship I found there. Ditto Marlo Thomas, St. Jude himself, Janis Joplin, romanticizing tragedy, Indian food, and the open road. She'd seen it all before.

From her I inherited my terrible driving, patience with weirdos, unflinching optimism, hunger for a storyline, and social groove. She never limited my interests or dictated morals, meaning there was no sting of judgment when heartbreak or disaster visited. I got to own it. Similarly, achievements and joy have been mine to savor, with her constant encouragement but never co-opting. My mom let me become the person I was meant to be. She seemed unthreatened by the emotional risks of raising children --- which I now know to be impossible --- today, I appreciate her allowances as trust, that God and goodness will prevail.

Even recognizing that freedom, each time over the past ten years I've thought I'd lost one of my children (in a water park, at a gas station, the bluegrass festival, and so on) my dominant fear has been disappointing my mother. Some things aren't real until you have to explain it to Mom, right? In every such brief, grave episode my brain seemed to illogically skip straight to remnants of my misspent youth: "My mom is going to be so pissed, you guys. She really liked that baby."

Parking lot derelictions aside, I've had to work diligently to shock her over the years. She did seem pretty mad when I worked in that Nevada brothel for a few months.

Moms imbue so many traits before we realize they're unique. If I am a little iceberg bobbing around the universe, my mom is the piece of Earth from which I calved ~ at once adaptable, immovable, and regal. If I've ever been fearless, dignified, unconventional, it's because I'm her daughter. My favorite compliments are when she compares me favorably to her own mother. I expect my daughters feel the same.

Happy 36 years of motherhood, Mom. Veronica is right --- you da awesomest. I praise God for the multitudes you contain, and for your continual willingness to sail me home.

* * *
(so Tori Amos is probably a little ponderous for my mom's tastes. She's more of a Chaka Khan lady.)

But, here we go -- nobody vamps at a piano with quite the same depth ...   

"Well I can't believe that I would keep
Keep you from flying
So I will cry 1000 more
If that's what it takes
To sail you home
Sail you home
Sail you home
Sail you home"

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