It’s ironic that I get to be in a show this weekend called Listen To Your Mother, because I didn’t. I mean, on some things I did. I didn’t play on the freeway, or get out of the shower without rinsing the shampoo out of my hair. I listened to her on the mundane things that don’t really change anyone’s life,( besides that whole playing on the freeway thing, that could have been a life-changer.)
But when it kind of mattered, I rebelled. Even when I didn’t know what I was doing or saying, other than it was the opposite of what she wanted for me. Or what she had chosen for herself.
We used to drive past a sex-toy shop on Sprague multiple times a week. From the time it was approaching us on the right side of the street, until we were safely past it, my mother would say, “Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord” or “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. I didn’t know anything about this store, other than it had a kitty wearing a boa on the sign, and my mother was vehemently against it. I remember leaning over to my sister on more than one occasion when this was happening and whispering, “When I grow up, I’m gonna work there.” ( I did not keep this vow.)
I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until I was 14, so I bought the darkest lipgloss you can find and used it as an all-over makeup stick. My eyelids were tacky for all of fourth grade. But glossy! With a hint of sparkle.
I was only allowed to listen to Christian music growing up, so my friends snuck me mix tapes of New Kids On The Block, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston (how I longed to dance with somebody!), and Bryan Adams. These mix tapes were labeled Praise & Worship so that I wouldn’t get caught. I convinced my mom that M.C. Hammer was a pastor & teaching his congregation that they needed to pray just to make it today & for some reason, she believed me.
I had a million tiny rebellions in my 18 years at home. Some as innocent as the examples above, some not- hitch hiking in a mini skirt, among other things. I thought that I was winning the war on parental terrorism. But now, I’m a Mommy. And I wish I had listened more. To my mom, yes, but also to myself. I spent so much time doing the opposite of what she wanted, that I didn’t figure out what I wanted. I spent my youth proving that I am not her, instead of proving who I really am.
We are different, my mother and I. We believe different things, go to different churches, see the world as different places. I no longer have to prove anything. I am not a child. But, I am her child still. And sometimes, I lay down my pride for long enough to call my Mother, and just listen.