Friday, August 14, 2009
I don't remember which Halloween it was that I was Rainbow Brite. Maybe you don't either. But I bet you remember sewing that costume. It was perfect. I remember that to me, it was absolutely perfect. It had the big puffy arm things and the big puffy rainbow leg warmers. In my memory, dad painted a star on my face.
I remember being in a room with you. I think it was on Dexter street, but of course, I'm not sure. You were interviewing me. Well--you were interviewing Rainbow Brite. I believe I requested an interview and you obliged while getting me into that costume. You asked me questions about my horse, Starlight. About the sprites, and my favorite sprite, Twink. I think you asked me what it was like bringing color to the world.
I loved Rainbow Brite. I loved that huge, homemade costume. I don't think at seven or eight or nine, I was sentient enough to know that the costume I so loved was an expression of your love for me. But I know now.
A mother-daughter relationship is messy. We end up all tangled up in one another. Enmeshed. Some mothers--like the Other Mother in Coraline--consume their children. Some undermine them, rob them of confidence or sense of self. You did so much better than all of that. You gave me what I try to give Ayla and Indy--the freedom, and the ability, and the courage, to be myself. Not an actress, like you. Not a crafty sort of person. Maybe (here's the tricky one!)not even a Lutheran. (Uh-oh. I guess giving your children freedom to pursue their own passions can be a double-edged sword. Now watch Ayla and Indy grow up to be gender-role worshiping anti-feminists. Or Fundamentalists. Or Republicans. Horrors!)
Which is important. Equally important as everything else you did, when we were small. Driving to field trips. Baking cookies in winter. Blasting music on Christmas and Easter morning (it still feels festive to me). Listening to me, and never laughing at me. Being a woman of strength so I could learn to be one too. Reading The Secret Garden to me--and then letting me read The Secret Garden to you. Once, on Humboldt street, I woke up from a nap and found you and dad in the kitchen. I was sure, at that moment, that you had never been happier to see anyone or anything in your life than you were to see me. (Now, as a mother of napping toddlers, I realize your feelings upon seeing me up and at 'em again may have been something less like joy and more like resignation. But I didn't know that, then.)
All those things were so important.I want to tell you how much all that means to me now. But mostly, I just want to say thank you. Mostly, I just want to say that I love you.
Happy Birthday, Mom.