Parenting with…Parents (and Potatoes)

When I was in my early-to-mid 20s, my relationship with my mom was…fraught. A tantalizingly efficient word meaning “causing or affected by great anxiety or stress” which feels…accurate.She would come to my two small,  respective walk-up apartments – which I loved with their hardwood floors and proximity to the co-op and Blockbuster (was this late even for the 2000s, ppl?) and despair that I wasn’t living somewhere “nicer”. She’d look at my newly cut fringed bangs and ask me if I wanted an appointment at her usual salon when I was home next. She’d sit and (actually) get weepy when she’d see a little accumulated cat hair in a corner, sure that I was living in a hovel and not reaching my full potential by refusing to live a lifestyle more readily available to the general public in the pages of Teen Vogue or Allure.

It was bad!

I’d feel the anxiety start to creep up on me a day or two before her arrival and would launch into some heavy-handed apartment rearranging and cleaning, stock up on the nicest groceries/toiletries I could afford, and get my stories straight: Yes, I was okay at my current job. No, I didn’t want to move home. I mean, maybe I wanted to go back to school but I wasn’t sure and leave me alonnne!

I was (am) kind of a pill myself. What can I say, apple doesn’t fall far from tree.

Looking back on it now and being a mother myself, I can much more readily understand where she was coming from (though I still don’t fully agree with her delivery.) Her personal anxieties, though misdirected onto me, came from a place of fierce love and general Mama Bear-ness.  She wanted the best for me no matter what, and though I believe she should’ve tried to empower me a bit more rather than set me up against the world based on her outlook,she did her best. And her best was pretty darn good.

When my mom comes to visit now almost a decade later…wow. Not only does she still buy me groceries like I’m 21, but she offers to watch Fiona, our 1 year old, while we go out together, run errands on our own, go to the gym for the first time in God knows…

It’s great. Obviously.

And most delightfully Fiona loves it. They giggle and squeal together as my mom chases and tickles her. They have little meals together and my mom always asks if there’s anything Fi shouldn’t have, and darnitall if she can’t get that kid to fall asleep on her chest for 1-2 hour afternoon naps where she just holds her. It’s pretty much fairy godmother time for all three of us.

Which isn’t to say it doesn’t go off without a hitch…

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