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2004-07-19 - 8:30 a.m.

Making Memories

For years Sunday and Monday have constituted our weekends, since Ed and I have always worked on Saturdays. I spent most of this Saturday writing and/or reading, and somehow twisted my right knee, so I didn't go to watch Max's water polo tournament on Sunday. Alas! because he scored two goals in the 12 & under game Ed watched - and then another in the 14 & under game. Max called me last night to acknowledge we would switch his writing session from Monday to Tuesday, since Ed and I are driving to see friends up in the foothills Monday (today). I commented that he sounded "stoked," a word with which he apparently is not familiar. He said, "I'm just still energized, I think, from all the excitement of the games." I explained "stoked" as in "fueled" or as he said, "energized." Isn't it funny how our slang changes from year to year.

A lot of things change over time. When I was growing up it was the rare mother who worked outside the home, certainly not one like mine. Or so it seemed to me, anyway. Today, it seems to be the other way around.

One Mother - and this Daughter

An excerpt from a chapter of the Memoirs of Joan Callaway

From the time I was three years old, it seemed to me that other people and other things were far more important than I was to my mother. There is no truth - just perceptions of the truth. It always seemed to me that there were many demands on her time from her businesses, from extended family, and from her many friends. The friends provided the requisite fun and frolic during her periods of R & R.

Many times over the years, I remember feeling that, just once I'd like to have my mother's undivided attention, instead of the meager souvenirs of her love. You would think I should never have been a lonely child, and I surely wasn't in the sense of not having people around. There were always the housekeepers, the many friends, coming and going, and my beloved Aunt Teedy who played the role of substitute mother in my life. But that one all-important person in my life, who had perhaps been lifted even higher in my yearning by her very absence, was often missing in her quest to fulfill her ambitions and her entrepreneurial spirit.

These feelings were to last me until much later in her life when the "shoe was on the other foot." When I had my own life, my own business, my own family to nurture, I often was unable to give my mother the time she deserved in her last years nor was I able to give each of my own children the attention they would have liked, I suspect. Eventually, I grew to have a much better understanding of my mother's career and my childhood and especially my teen years.

From a young girl's perspective, however, the friends and fun, the work that took her away, seemed far more important than the young not so interesting and sometimes (often, I suspect) resentful daughter. By now she had grandchildren to dote on, too, as well as a booming business at which she excelled. My father was in a weakened condition from lung disease and while we shared the same house, he was not an active participant in my life in the same way a mother might have been. I loved him dearly, though, and treasured the time we did spend together. We went fishing together occasionally and would talk about current events, but other than that he pretty much left me to my own devices. I knew he loved me, and I guess, bottom line, my expectations of a father were far different from those I had of a mother.

I wanted my mother to be at the Mother-Daughter teas; I wanted her to be at my performances at school; I wanted more than the "What Every Girl Should Know" booklet left with a box of "necessities" on my dresser. I wanted her to be home more than on the weekend at which time I would even then have to share her with the friends and family who regularly gathered. Instead, she brought gifts; she brought clothes; she gave me a credit card at a very young age with which I could buy even more things. I resented the things; I wanted her presence - not her presents.

I tried to make these things not matter. I tried to avoid the wounds of deep disappointment when she would promise to try to make it to the Mother-Daughter Tea in May, but wouldn't; when she would hope to be home in time to help me get ready for the prom, but couldn't. My brother came in her stead to my 9th grade graduation. I know that my mother loved me; but as a teen-ager I suffered keen disappointment time after time.

It seemed to me that she had plenty of time in her life for the `Aunts' and even for complete strangers, such as the "Bring Home a Servicemen for Dinner" fellows, who often stayed on for a weekend. The quality of time my mother and I shared was shallow by comparison, probably because of my pent-up resentment, which eventually snowballed into what I now recognize as planned indifference - so typical of the teen years.

(I have three daughters. Perhaps another time I'll write about the Mother-Daughter relationship in my family at least from my perspective, which in reality is all anyone has, isn't it?)

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