Tutu would never.

The dead are lucky in their abundance of reverence…or rather revered-ness. Especially as time moves on, that reverence grows. The sharper edges dull and what’s left is the best of the lost.

Memories (and retellings) of the tougher, graceless moments fade as we focus closer and closer on the highlight reel.

My mom, and my memories of her, and retellings of her glory are no exception. There are absolutely outtakes in her reel, bloopers that were far from funny. Moments that I know without question she’d want forgotten.

She was human after all. Complicated, beautiful, brilliant, warm, creative, rarely wrong, and sometimes wrong. Still, the stories I share with her grandkids are sweetly devoid of the mistakes.

Do you know what Tutu did when Aunt Devon and I said we were bored?

Do you know what Tutu told me when I told her I’d live on the moon someday?

Let me tell you what Tutu said when I came home crying…

The kids have gobbled them up. They’re part of our lore. Refrains in our little family’s anthem.

Tutu would have done…

Tutu would have said…

Tutu would never…

Tutu would never say, “stop crying.” She’d say, “scream in your pillow.”

“Kick that tree.”

“Write this down.”

“Exhale.”

“Put one unhappy foot in front of the other less unhappy foot, and keep moving.”

“Feel the wind and smell the rain coming.”

“Find something funny and laugh.”

She would never have left if she had the choice.

She would never, could never, have been a better mom than she was to Dev and me.

These kids are gonna thank us someday.

My kid so desperately needs a haircut. He looks like a yeti, from the ears up. The rest of him is thankfully fur free. But looking at him and his porcupine mop-top this morning, with his array of half-eaten breakfast choices spread before him, I thought, Hey, despite the hair, he’s damn lucky.

His appearance leaves something to be desired at the moment (namely a pair of gardening shears), but he’s got a lot of stuff that so many other kids lack. And I may not be the perfect parent.  I may or may not have dropped him when he was 6 weeks old on to a hardwood floor (the ER nurse was incredibly kind at 3 am, “don’t worry, ma’am, it happens all the time”). And I may or may not have whispered to him, at 13 months after he finally fell asleep following 3 straight hours of rocking (physically and lyrically–after exhausting my meager catalog of lullabies I was singing my own renditions of the best rock songs of the 60’s), that he was going to drive me quack-sh*t, ducking crazy someday–only I may or may not have whispered the bald-faced curse words rather than the PG version.  I think about this little not-quite Mommy Dearest moment often and hope that his subconscious failed to absorb the exhausted menace in my words.

But the truth is he’s got a mom that would do anything in her power to keep him safe, and happy, and fully stocked in the breakfast pastry category.  So, I’ve decided to let go of the kiddie-coiffure failure and my many other parenting transgressions of the past 7 years.

I have another kid who has resorted to keeping her own calendar.  I shared this fact with a colleague in the elevator yesterday as we were both scrambling to make the clumsy transition from litigator to super mom at the end of a harried work day. Continue reading

Say it.

*For my mom. I miss you.

I was hours away from the Junior Prom.  The dress was laid out on the bed with both pairs of new black pantyhose. (One could snag when putting them on, so mom had purchased a back-up.)  I decided that with my black dress, adorned with black plastic jewels along the neckline, and black hose, that red would be the perfect color for my nails.  I went to a local salon for the arduous process of fake nail adhesion, sculpting and painting that was so popular in the early 90’s.  The nail technician worked for hours to glue and shape those nails, and for what felt like hours she sanded away the surface of those newly applied fake nails along with layers of my own skin.

I sat in that chair and let the woman run the nail file over my fingers again and again.  I winced and said “ow.” And she would move more gingerly for a few seconds, then start grinding away again.  By the time she was done, I had ten shiny, long red nails and ten bloody fingertips to match.  She used nail polish remover to stem the bleeding, all the while never showing any sign that what was going on was the slightest bit unusual.  I paid (and tipped her!) for her work, and went home.

My mother was furious.  She grabbed my hands and asked what happened.  I shrugged and said I needed to get ready.  I only had three more hours to get dressed—barely enough time to curl my hair and put makeup on!  She was fuming.  She called the salon to complain but that was not enough.  We were going back. Continue reading