I remember sitting at a table with a lot of women I know, drinking cocktails, when I mentioned that I was meeting my mother for lunch that day. All around the table there were understanding shakes of heads and groans. All of them were commiserating on the unluckiness of having to meet Mom for lunch.
The problem was that I didn't really understand how they felt. Back then I met my mother for lunch or shopping or just went to her house to hang out pretty much weekly. We would drink wine, eat french fries, shop and not buy anything on any given Sunday. My mother has never once criticized me. She has liked some of my haircuts enough to copy them. She has never called me fat or bitched about my clothes. She has never once been unkind to me.
My biggest regret about my mother is that every woman I know doesn't have one just like her.
When I was six months pregnant she and I were eating cheeseburgers when she hung her head a bit and admitted she worried that things would change. I knew just what she meant. She was thrilled that I was having a baby--had privately prayed for that (no pressure) for years--but we had a good run going. It seemed impossible that we could enjoy each other so much with a baby. I had to tell her that I was worried too. Worried that I wouldn't make her proud, that she would try to parent my daughter, that I wouldn't measure up.
I have to say that from here we were right to worry and things have definitely changed. We don't meet for leisurely lunches or wander around aimlessly now. But I can say that my mother has still never said an unkind word to me. That she provides the reassurance that she thinks I am a great mom that I think no one can hear enough. She is crazy about my daughter and Mo is mad for her.
My mom told me once that our friendship was the prize for surviving the year I turned thirteen. We were not always so close, though we never fought the way she fought with my sister (I saved that for my dad). She has held my hand through some very difficult times and laughed with me during more good times. When I was two weeks postpartum she came and fed me roast chicken when I hadn't eaten in days. She comes to my house every week and never once wrinkles her nose at my messy house. She gives great advice and even listens to mine in return.
I think our friendship is my prize for not killing her when I was thirteen. And I hope that Mo is watching it--absorbing it through her pores. I hope that one day when she is older, and I take care to treat her with kindness and never ever criticize her hair, she will go out to lunch with me and bug me about my skincare and be my friend. I hope that one day she will have a baby and understand what I now know about my mother: she can't stand to criticize me because my sister and I split her wide open. She can't love anything as much as she does us. And nothing that could ever happen would change that.
That is a truth that I knew always but didn't KNOW until now. I am so grateful that Ramona taught me that. And so very lucky that my mother feels that way about me.
I hope that all of you are so fortunate.