When I was still pretty small, I had irritated my mom for something lousy I had done and, in her frustration, she snapped, “Don’t get me anything for Mother’s Day.”
A smarter kid might have recognized that what a mom sometimes says is not exactly what she means.
A smarter kid.
I was not that smarter kid. I took the money I was saving up for her gift, went to Woolworth’s, and bought myself a record. I can’t remember which one, but it’s entirely possible that it was this …
I was cold shouldered for days. I’m sure she was disappointed in me. It wouldn’t be the last time.
But, to my credit, I never missed another Mother’s Day – including this one, the ninth since she passed away.
I wish I could tell you that my mom and I were ever-warm and loving, like sisters really, and gardened together and cooked together and sewed together and did those things that moms and daughters often do.
We weren’t. We didn’t.
Sure, we got along. Sometimes.
We fought a lot and rolled our eyes at each other and slammed doors in frustration and disagreed on more things than we agreed on.
But, at the end of the day, we were satisfied that she was probably the only mother, and I was probably the only daughter, who could put up with the other.
We were perfect that way.
We didn’t get along all the time, but we always said “I love you,” even on days when we weren’t sure we did. And, we always trusted the other with secrets. Like the time when I was in my teens and my mom got home and told me she had been pulled over and ticketed for speeding, not once, but twice that day. She never told my dad. I thought she was pretty badass. She liked that.
She liked fast cars in high school, too.
Her kid liked a fast trike.
Mom liked the speed, flash, and beauty of basketball and hated when Michael Jordan brought baggy shorts to the NBA.
With the exception of a brief fling with the ’69 Miracle Mets she never cared about baseball. It was tedious to her. (She probably thought I loved baseball simply to annoy her.)
If we had ever gone to a baseball game together, I’m 100 percent certain she would have left in the 6th inning and gone to sit, have a smoke, and wait in the car.
(At mass, my mom would always nudge me out the door after communion. “That’s long enough,” she would whisper and off we would go, freed from God five minutes before everyone else.)
But, she taught me to always support the underdog (go Orioles!). She taught me the secret to delicious food is often more butter than a recipe calls for. She taught me that speed limits are, apparently, just suggestions.
She loved expensive outfits tailored just so, hipster earrings as big as your fist, and Kobe Bryant.
I love sweatshirts two sizes too big, things you’d call kitschy, and the Orioles bullpen.
My mom was a badass. She fought with her daughter so her daughter would finally, hopefully, someday be able to fight for herself when her mom was gone.
Someday I want to be a badass, just like my mom.