My mother, the bomb

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Last week, my daughter brought home her school pictures. Now, I never expect much from school pictures, hence I have always been pleased and suprised when my daughter has come home with photos that reveal her inner cuteness for all the world to see.

I had been out at aforementioned evening with girlfirends and had imbibed ONE margarita. Only one. We were out by 7 p.m. and I was home at a very reasonable hour.

I get home, I change into my comfy clothes, and get into my bed with my daughter to read to her a chapter of Harry Potter. Her father's voice comes from the living room "Em - did you show Mommy your pictures?"

At first, I thought he had to be referring to a picture she drew or painted and I was annoyed, since it is harder than you can imagine to pin my daughter down long enough to read a whole chapter of Harry Potter. It is like herding an earthworm. There should be no disturbance once mommy and daughter start reading.

So, she leaps up like a piston and rolls into the living room and runs back with an envelope - flings it in my face. Oh - I slowly realize - the school pictures are back.

I open the envelope and exclaim "These are HIDEOUS!!!"

All right. I said it. The words leapt out of my mouth. But - they were and are hideous. My child - who is wildly cute- looks demented. Her sweet polka dot dressed is all crumpled, her shoulders are scrunched up and her face is contorted in some wierd reptilian semblance of a smile.

I realize after I have said it and turn to her and say "Oh no baby - you're gorgeous - but these pictures are awful. You are much, much cuter than this!

She seems happy with this and snuggles back into me. Then Terrance comes in to ask my opinion.

Once again, I can't seem to control myself and spout - "Those pictures are HIDEOUS! - They are god-awful! Did you see them?!!!"

He sends me the glare of death. I see this glare alot from my spouse and I usually disregard it conpletely. Occasionally it alerts me that I have crossed some social boundry. This was one of the latter times. He purses his lips and stomps out.

I read, and get Em into bed. I walk out to the living room to accept my fate. I am even vaguely humble as I sit on the couch and try to make small talk.

Now - in relationships there are topics in arguements or disagreements that are saved for their ultimate value. I know that when I really want to zing my husband, I call into question his ability to earn enough money to support our family. I also point out times in the recent past - when I have been supporting our family. Now, I say - for the record - that this is not entirely true - but I know that it has maximum value. It is the atom bomb in one of our arguements, and the fall out from this statement is equally toxic.

"Dawn - that was a terrible thing to say. Just terrible. When you said that - I could clearly see your mother. I have to believe that those words were something that your mother said to you. They were selfish, awful words. I'm done talking about this."

OUCH!!!!! Holy Shit! I sat there in stunned, awful silence. Then muttered "Your point is taken" and wandered back to the bedroom.

Being my mother is my atom bomb. And worse - he was right. That was something my mother would have said. Maybe even did. I have worked so hard all my life to Not be my mother that it still suprises me when she pops out, like some wierd inner crazy spirit I forgot was living in there. The comparison shakes me to my core.

The next morning, as we drive to ballet, I say to Emily : "When mommy said that your pictures were awful last night - did that hurt your feelings?"

Emily paused, look thoughful and said "Yes, it did"

"I am so sorry. I did not mean to hurt your feelings. It isn't that you aren't beautiful - I just don't think the photographer did a very good job at taking your picture. That is what I should have said - that the photographer did not do their job very well."

"OK- can I have a doughnut?"

In my daughters eyes, I am redeemed.

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