Rolling your eyes at your mother seems a rite of passage for most girls. My daughter rolled her eyes so much lately that I finally rolled mine back at her. Of course, I was extra dramatic about it. I rolled my eyes up with an extended flutter to emphasize the severity of only the white part showing.
She laughed, and her rolling eyes settled into a disdainful stare to match her frustration with my “nagging.” But, there are other sometimes more disturbing behaviors lately: Telling me to leave her alone then shutting her bedroom door, elbowing me (however lightly) when I try to hug her, saying “Oh Wow,” after I tell her to do something important like homework.
I’d already hurdled the “I hate you,” moments so I figured I could handle being my daughter’s enemy. But, “I hate you” was sharp, loud and over within seconds. These new insults dig into my side, make me feel nauseous, and even bring me to tears.
Inevitably I remember what I did to my own mother. Rolling my eyes being the most memorable of my insults. She would yell, “Don’t you roll your eyes at me!” Then, I’d do it again, just to spite her.
I’ve grown up a lot since then and I hope I’ve learned something. However, like every naïve new mother, I vowed to never be like my mother. Now, when I hear other moms say they won’t be like their mothers, I secretly say, “Good luck with that.”
My mother was terrible. She wore miniskirts to my ultra-conservative Baptist school functions. She divorced two men. She told my friends’ parents to go to hell when they made snide remarks about her inappropriate behavior. She wouldn’t let me go anywhere because she was afraid I’d get hurt. She didn’t come home sometimes for 24 hours because she’d work double shifts as a nurse.
I hated her for all of that and more.
Sometimes, very early in the morning I’d sneak into her cave of a room and kneel next to her bed. I’d listen to her breath and I’d feel sorry for myself because I missed her so much. Then, I’d blow her a very quiet kiss and leave. I wanted her with me, just being my mom, like all the other mom’s at my school.
I know now that if she were around all the time I’d have hated her for that.
Why? Well, she’s my mother, my enemy, my one true love.
It doesn’t make it any less painful to know that while I experience the same with my own daughter. It just keeps me grounded. I know the journey will leave me sore and tired, but love will lock us together.
My mother also snuck into my room late at night bringing me little presents: a pair of earrings, a teddy bear, a kiss. I’d be angry with her for something so I wouldn’t let her know I was awake, but I loved her for visiting me. Deep in my soul, I knew she loved me just as much or more than the “perfect” moms who volunteered at bake sales and coached the cheerleading teams.
Just recently my daughter decided we didn’t need to read together at night anymore like we’ve done even before she began reading on her own. I tried to act like it didn’t bother me, but when I cried myself to sleep for three days in a row, I again felt what my own mother must’ve: a sorrow that only love brings.
I wrote my daughter a note praising her for finding her independence and telling her why I was sad about it, that I would miss it so much and I’d be there for her no matter what changes come.
Within a week, she asked me to read with her again. One night, yes; another night, no.
I remind her that I will always need hugs and she will always be my baby. Those things she must accept. We’ll work out the rest.
She smiles a baby smile, blinks her eyes, and rests her head on my shoulder.
Sometimes, she rolls her eyes.
Written By Lisa Chesser