It was just about 5 o'clock on a chilly Saturday. The sun was down and the kids were going stir crazy. I threw something together for dinner I thought they would like. But when we finally sat down, my twin toddlers wrinkled their noses, pushed their plastic plates away and with perfect diction, uttered the word no mother wants to hear (especially at the end of a looooong day), "Yucky." They apparently did not care for the concoction of pasta, sauce and cheese I had lovingly prepared (a hot meal!) while they colored at the kitchen table.
The first thought that popped into my head isn't really suitable to be repeated. But my second one was more reflective anyway. It had to do with my mom...and how many times through the years, raising four of us kids, did she hear the dreaded "yucky" or some version of it. I had just experienced yet another rite of passage into the mom club.
I know we're just talking about supper here - not some major developmental crossroads. But the "yucky" incident made me realize I had reached my very first milestone on the road of child-parent approval. Yes, you read that right. I know all about parent-child approval (I'm an eldest child, after all). However, this was my first brush with the reverse and I wondered...would this moment set the stage for years of my kids turning down other gestures of love and affection? Is this what it feels like when your tween daughter refuses to go to a concert with mom and dad (as I did in back in 1982, turning down the Thompson Twins)?
It brought back the memory of one of the dumbest arguments I ever had with my mother. I was home from my freshman year of college and we were doing some holiday shopping and a store clerk asked me where I was from. I think I said something cool like, "Oh, I'm just visiting my family..." My mother looked at me in disbelief.
"You're just visiting? This is your home," she said.
"Hel-looo. Yeah, like I grew up here. But this isn't my home anymore," I replied in some Valley Girl-esque tone (this was, like, the Eighties).
I'm sure Mom probably wanted to slap that bratty remark right out of me. She, of course, wrapped up the conversation in the store with total grace and we argued about it later. I never understood until recently how much that stupid comment must have hurt her and why.
This week, my mom reaches a milestone of her own. She has a big birthday. And I have been thinking so much about how our relationship has matured, especially since I became a mother almost two years ago. We are closer in ways I never could have appreciated while I was growing up. We talk just about every day. Usually, I'm the one calling around dinner time when I am just about at the end of my rope and I need to her to coach me to take a deep breath. I hope my daughter (and son) and I will have the same close bond.
But, of course, now I realize that it will probably take shape AFTER we get through the turbulent "I have nothing to wear" teen years.... All of the clashes I had with my mom over make-up, clothes, boys, school, you name it, resonate in my head (and scare me) as I negotiate with my 21-month-old twins to let me put on their diapers or persuade them to sit in their car seats. This is just the beginning. I'll try to remember "yucky" along the way, remind myself to breathe through it... and always have a phone nearby so I can call my mom. I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday! Thanks for being the best role model and friend I could ever ask for.
And, happy holidays to all of you. Please check out my website TheWellMom.com and sign up for my weekly email for more thoughts and insights on motherhood and the pursuit of wellness.