Mothers and daughters across time and space

(Page 2 of 3)
This week, on Jocelyn’s 40th, just before Mother’s Day, I’m remembering those early years. They were very loud. When she cried, neighbors for blocks around would lock their windows. The kid had a scream that could stop a clock — or your heart. Even now I feel anxious when I think about the awful things I did to trigger an hour-long crying fit: overdone French toast, wrong-colored shoe laces, not enough jelly with the peanut butter, too many bows on the dress and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Jocelyn came into the world fast, and she kept going: to school in Georgia, Boston, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Summers she waited tables in a Boulder wonton house, worked on a New Zealand herb farm, hiked the Absaroka Wilderness in Wyoming, surfed in Mexico and then decided to live out West.

She has two kids of her own now, and her daughter hits exactly the same high notes when she cries. There is some justice in the world after all.

I’m thinking of my mother, too, this week. She is 90 now and has been an A+ mom (so far), although she was never tested. I was a piece of cake to raise. Never broke a bone, never sneaked a drink or a smoke, always took my parents’ advice. I became slightly more naughty as an adult, thank heavens, or I might have bored myself to death.

My daughter, on the other hand, recently confessed that when she was 14, she drove our Lincoln around the neighborhood. She filled our vodka bottles with water, as needed. Had I known at the time, I would have agonized — believed she was headed for the dark side rather than an upstanding life as a caring physician and loving wife and mother.

Our job as mothers changes over the years. Today, many of us are caring for our parents and still minding the kids. My mother needs me more; my daughter, less. I need them both.

My daughter, a psychiatrist, claims we are “over-involved” in her life. Then she calls me from California to tell me that the 5-year-old put a bean in her nose and they’re on their way to the E.R. Did I really need to know that?
Page 2 / 3