I guess they’re embarrassing.
My oldest son Daniel is frequently called upon to tell me, “Mother, you shouldn’t say that out loud.”
He always calls me Mother. With that tone. You know the one.
I’ve already confessed I was a young mother. A too young, 17 year old mother. I was the best mother a 17 year old could possibly be – which is pretty much like being the smartest moron in the room.
Two weeks before Daniel was born my dog got run over. Distraught with 17 year old grief I said, “I’d rather have my dog than a baby.”
I’ve told this story a few times. My son says, “Mother, normal mothers don’t say things like that.”
He’s forgetting that I always close with, “Imagine my surprise when I saw my kid and liked him waaaay better than that dog.”
I’m not a complete loser.
Another favorite reminiscence of mine (well, it used to be. God forbid I should tell it) is when said son’s turtle fell off the balcony to his untimely death. I knew Daniel’s heart would break. Desperate to soothe I told him, “You know, he had a lot of bills. He lost his job, his wife left him. That’s why he jumped.”
He responded sobbing, his little face scrunched up in horror, “My turtle committed suicide?”
“Well, if you put it like that…”
What I didn’t say was, “I told you not to leave that damn turtle out on the third story balcony, didn’t I?” Do I get any points for NOT saying that? Guess not.
When my daughter Kayla was born she was a homely little thing.
I shit you not. She cried constantly and had no forehead. I loved her and all, but contrary to common belief, love isn’t blind.
“She’s not that cute,” I’d say.
Daniel, age 4 would chime in, “Mother, you’re not very nice.”
Today, Kayla is a stunner. Seriously. A beauty. I tell everyone. I love her and all, but love still isn’t blind. Just calling it like I see it.
I’m overcome with similar sentiment about my grandkids. Whom, I make no secret, I adore. However, I thought I was a little on the YOUNG side for grandma-hood. Not to mention, I thought my oldest daughter was too young for motherhood.
She wasn’t as young as I was…but still, not yet 20. Ack. But, ever stoic, I adjusted.
When Kayla was pregnant, all kinds of women would say with glee, “Aren’t you so excited? Grandkids are so awesome.”
I’d answer with, “I’m sure I’ll like it just fine.”
Daniel would scold, “Mother. You don’t say ‘you’ll like it just fine’ about a baby. You say that about carpeting or a car. NOT a baby.”
To my astonishment, Kayla insisted on my presence during her labor and delivery. Let me tell you my friends, if you haven’t had that pleasure…count your freaking blessings. I didn’t want to be present for my own labors and deliveries, much less…
I kept escaping. Then they’d find me. I told Daniel, “She was like the Mafia. Every time I tried to get out, she pulled me back in.”
“Mother, you just said that out loud.”
But, I have to admit, when Madison was born, she was every bit the miracle they said she’d be. I fell hard for her. I didn’t have a prayer.
My daughter still says that day, and her childbirth experience, was in the top five of her best memories. So, that’s enough to melt even my black heart.
Then came Adelia, Kayla’s second baby. Not thrilled with the prospect. Said so. Then she arrived, and like a snuggly, cuddly worm, she crawled right into my heart. I don’t think there’s a kid more loved than Adelia.
Good God. Would they ever stop?
At least this was a different daughter’s baby.
“You’re going to be a grandma again? That’s so fantastic,” some idiot would crow.
Daniel would lecture, “Mother, you know as soon as you see them you’re like jello. Why don’t you just try to enjoy it?”
“Did I ever tell you about my dog?”
Then, there she was. All red hair, big blue eyes, little gap between her teeth. She loves feather boas and crowns. How precious is Amelie?
Then, yet one more.
Kayla announced another imminent birth.
I bit my tongue.
I kept my mouth shut. So shut. Until…
“Mom, I know you’re not happy about this, but-”
Then I said a bunch of stuff out loud that I shouldn’t have.
Daniel nagged, “Now you’ve done it. I told you not to say anything.”
Yeah. Got it.
Well, as grandkids will, Che Jr. was born. Our first grandson.
Oh my goodness. What a joy he is. A delicious bundle of all things fabulous. Just when you think your heart can’t take it all in, it expands and grows and fills with all kinds of mushy love.
Daniel said, “I told you, Mother…I knew as soon as you saw him you’d be crazy for him.”
Kaya said, “Isn’t he so handsome?”
“I hope he’s not an asshole.”
Kathleen O’Donnell is the author of “The Last Day for Rob Rhino,” a Foreword Review and Next Generation Indy Book of the Year Finalist