A mother/daughter relationship can be as combustible as a dry Christmas tree with faulty lights. And over the years, we've had our share of blazes. My mom has that certain way of getting under my skin the way no one else can. Perhaps this is a universal truth among daughters. Maybe one day, I'll have the same unique ability with my own girls.
It starts off well enough. My husband meets her at the Amtrak station. They pull up in the driveway and the salutations begin. Yea! Mom, Grandmaw, hugs and kisses as we carry her luggage in. The jubilee is shortlived and I know what's coming. When she crosses the threshold, she immediately dons her white gloves. She saunters casually from room to room as I hold my breath. She has now become...dun dun duuuuuun...'The Inspector.'
To give you some perspective let's go back...back in time. Years ago, I had cleaned my house from top to bottom in preparation for her arrival, but it was all in vain. She found it! Way down in the bowels of my refrigerator, in the lower regions of the veggie crisper drawer was a long forgotten carcass. It was nearly fossilized. Honestly, I was as stymied as she was and was certain that Beelzebub himself had planted it there.
She slowly pulled it out and held it by a wing as though it had leprosy. With a fiendish gleam in her eye she exclaimed, "what's this??" Underneath her feigned horror was secret delight, as though she had discovered the Dead Sea scrolls. There's some deep psychology going on here. My amateur analysis is that since I made the decision to be a full-time homemaker/homeschooler, my mother feels it is an indictment against her parenting. Growing up, I was a latchkey kid as both my parents had full-time jobs. So sometimes it feels like she's looking for a chink in the armor of my motherhood.
In any case, the image of her holding up that carcass still haunts me today and I am determined it shall never be repeated.
So this year, I started cleaning early. I rallied the troops and recruited my kids in the process. Thank God for garages, because that's where all the excess stuff went. Decluttering requires lots of decision making, but there was no time for such luxury. She's coming! "Where does this go?" "The garage." "Where does that go?" "The garage." Eventually, all roads led to the garage which now looks like an overstuffed landfill.
In order to get to the garage, you must go through the laundry room. And since we were too busy cleaning and decluttering to do laundry, it was piled high with all manner of clothes. The pile resembled a skyscraper, and I got a touch of vertigo just looking at it, but not to worry, the entrance to the laundry has a curtain. This blessed swath of fabric hides a multitude of sins.
But wouldn't you know it, within 24 hours of her arrival, my mother ventured toward the laundry room where the garage door was left ajar. Before I knew it she had gone beyond the veil and into the lion's den! I almost broke my leg leaping across the room in one fell swoop in an attempt to stop her.
Up until this time, she had been in a state of disbelief, walking from room to room exclaiming how clean everything was. The orderliness she discovered put her in a state of shock. She was dumbfounded. But much to my surprise, she began talking of moving in. After all, if everything was so organized, clean and spacious, there was room for her. Good grief! In an effort to earn validation for my housekeeping skills, it may have backfired! We overdid it! Hopefully, she is only kidding and she soon moves on.
I've learned over the years to be thick-skinned in preparing for visits from Mom. And this time I was fairly ready. When she called me her two ton daughter, I took it like George Foreman, right to the gut, slammed against the ropes, but eventually I rebounded and got back in the ring. And when we were on our way to my son's graduation, and she asked me if I was going to wear my hair like that, I simply responded "yes." By golly, I must be growing up.
But isn't this the nature of family. It's like limes dipped in sugar, the bitter with the sweet. And there were many sweet moments.
She and my daughter share a special bond. They are both artsy craftsy. My mother knits perpetually, stopping only for a life threatening emergency. And just like her grandmaw, my daughter is constantly creating and coming up with some special project, from ceramics to painting toilet paper tubes.
There most common bond is over mixed nuts! To watch those two eat nuts together is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, mom's nuts tend to sprew out the side of her mouth as she talks. She was talking to my son who told her, "Grandma, chew, swallow then talk." Mom thought that was hilarious and wrote it down and referred to the paper throughout the week.