Posted by: Andrea | July 15, 2008

Things I could have learned from my mom, if I’d been paying attention

There are things my mom does that I would never, EVER think to do.  This isn’t because she hasn’t attempted to instil these qualities in me, because she has.  In her own quiet, passive aggressive, slightly anally-retentive way.  She’d NEVER actually try to Teach Me Things.  Not in an obvious way.  She’d just continue to set an example and hope fervently and silently that someday I’d find the path to beautifully made quiches and color-coordinated table decorations.

I arrived home a few weeks ago just in time to attend the bridal shower that I was ‘throwing’ in my friend’s honor.  I’ve known this friend since I was two and a half years old and we met at a swimming class.  I was wearing a Miss Piggy swimsuit.  She had on the Smurfs.  Not only had we been best friends for years, but our younger sisters were best friends and our moms were best friends.  All from one swimming class.  So of course, we’d have to throw her a bridal shower.  Now, in name only, I was the one throwing this bridal shower.  In reality, it was all my mom.

I found myself on Friday afternoon, slightly jetlagged, debating for fifteen minutes over what kind of place cards to buy for the shower.  I know my mom, so not once did I say, ‘does this really matter?’  I was thinking it, a few times, but I didn’t say it.  She finally decided on a blue card that matched the tablecloth, decorated with stickers shaped like champagne glasses.  I got to be the one to put all those little champagne glass stickers on the cards, including little champagne bubble stickers.  There were a few other moments during the preparation for the shower when I sort of laughed and thought, yup, that is SO my mom.

The dining room table was perfectly set, laid out with her wedding china (still in use after 36 years).  She had yellow chrysanthemums bought from a local farmer’s stand that matched the candles.  She made two kinds of quiche from scratch, with wine in the crust.  She not only bought fresh Oregon-grown fruit from that same local farmer, but picked out which strawberries looked the ‘prettiest’ for the fruit kabobs.  She’d ordered a cake from the most fantastic local bakery which specifically had bridal shower cakes (decorated with a big umbrella and flowers).  I’m sure there were about a million other things that I didn’t even notice.

Throughout all of this, I sort of laughed a bit at her and went along with it all because I know it’s important to her.  Maybe not so important to ME, but I know that those things matter to her.  But when it was all done and our friends had arrived and we had our champagne glasses aloft, I really started to notice how nice it all was.  And when everyone else started complimenting my mom on what a wonderful shower it was, it made me think.

When I was growing up, my mom always kept our house very clean, especially when we had company over.  I remember a few times when I asked if I could have a friend over, my mom said no because she hadn’t cleaned the house.  I’m sure in reaction to that, I’ve always felt like the cleanliness of my house wouldn’t ever matter to someone who I was really friends with.  But as I’ve gotten older, I think my mom’s DNA is grabbing hold.  I’ve started to feel an unrelenting compulsion to clean whenever I have someone coming over to my flat.  I have that annoying tendancy to apologize for the state of things if I haven’t had a chance to put everything away to my satisfaction.  It’s maddening to see how much I’m turning into my mother.

But when I saw how pleased everyone was when they were over at our house, I thought, well, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.  Because even if my mom makes it all look SO easy, pulling together something like, I know she worked really hard.  As a child, I never appreciated that.  Now, I’m starting to.  Maybe it’s all just a sign that I’m finally growing up.  Hey, it only took me 29 years.  I guess it’s about time.

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