Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My mom didn't raise me this way.

"Hey Mom, I was calling to tell you that the publisher of 'Bay State Parent,' Gareth Charter, really likes my writing! He had to read the article to approve the language because I used some f-words, and he called it 'amazing'!  And he's HUGE, he publishes a bunch of local newspapers!"
Stoney silence.  Not a word.
"Kath-a-leen, why do you have to use f-words?  Why? That is not appropriate language. People are going to be reading that!"
"Ummmm Mom, my blog IS kinda about a serious subject ya know, and I DO use swears in it."
"Well, I don't know why you have to do that.  All I know is my grandson is adorable"
"Yes, Mom, he is."

Raised Irish Catholic with a retired Marine and a nurse for parents, talking about feelings was not done unless you were sick and had to report feeling feverish.  This was tough for an emotionally sensitive kid like myself who was prone to fantasy and spent days in my room playing with dolls, reading, and writing.  This was back BEFORE THE DAYS OF TECHNOLOGY (gasp!) where kids actually played with little structure and parental supervision.  This was the 70's so as long as there was a gallon of whole milk, a loaf of Wonder Bread, and PB+J kids could sustain themselves for weeks.  I was a pretty shy introverted kid until 4th grade when I discovered the gift for gab and forever had report cards like "very social.  talks too much. not performing up to potential."
My 'rebellion' started in high school - idealism combined with Catholic school equals a teen both questioning of the dogma being shoved down my throats while at the same time embracing the virtue of charity and  helping others.  Live and let live, baby.  My parents seemed so old fashioned and ignorant to me.  I became a little judgmental socialist hippie  and felt my dad as a Republican and a Marine was the worst offender. Freshman year of high school my dad got sick with cancer, and 5 years later, while on Christmas break sophomore year of college, he died.  That whole time, it was never discussed with him.  Sometimes my mom would confide info snippets but there was none of this new millennium kumbaya bullshit.  Emotions were for the weak (I'm IRISH not ITALIAN for crissakes).  I'm pretty sure neither myself, my mom or my brother cried at his funeral.  That is the only respectable way to behave.
Returning to college weeks after my dad's death, I had no idea how to merge what just happened at my home life with my 'new' life of college.  Those were two separate worlds but my grief followed me. Majoring in psychology continued my rebellion -  learning what motivates people, understanding them,  telling truths and being honest, giving people a voice and letting them be heard. What I had always wanted but never had, I wanted to provide for others.
Now  I'm renown for my bluntness and honesty, both amongst friends and coworkers.  My friends say "I called you because I know you will tell me the truth" and my coworkers say "This client really needs someone who will be able to be honest and confront them - and I thought of you."  It's one of the reasons I love working with kids.  They can be so real and honest, they can't hide how they feel.  They may try but it always comes out either in words or behavior.   I have a hard time being around people I don't like because I can't fake it.  In reaction to a childhood that was full of secrets and anger and elephants, I prefer realness and genuine and outright crazy.  Why hide it? We all are.

Yesterday I texted a photo of Owen's magazine cover layout to my mom.  She called me immediately.
"Kath-a-leen, why did they use that picture of him? I don't like it.  I like that othah one bettah."
"Well Mom, a lot of people loved it, oh like the photographer and the editor of the magazine."
"Oh. I see."
"My friend Liz said it gave her chills.  The editor said it moved her to tears.  A lot of people really love it."
"Well, ok then.  I just liked that other one bettah.  But he's so cute no mattah what."
"Yes Mom, he is cute."
And I'm older now, so I can just laugh.  20 years ago, I would have flipped out on her.  10 years ago, I would have ignored her calls for months.  But now, right after that brief but momentary pang of something dark, it's gone and I roll my eyeballs. This lady cracks me up - some things never change, classic Mary. 
I can't wait to see what she has to say when she finally learns the name of my blog!

1 comment:

  1. this one was great. I can totallly see your mom talking to you like that


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