I quit Brownies when I was five years old.
Unbeknownst to five-year-old me, this was a transgression that I would hear about for the next 20 years. Any time I wanted to try something new, my mother would trot out ‘The Brownies’ as evidence of my inability to stick with things.
Exhibit A: When I told her I was going to graduate school, she said, “Are you sure? Because you did quit Brownies.”
And she wasn’t joking.
I love my mother and miss her terribly since her passing years ago. Our relationship was fun, difficult, loving, and frustrating — just like every other mother-daughter relationship on planet Earth.
I know my mother loved me implicitly. The only time she ever got riled up enough to come to physical blows was over her children. She also thought I was beautiful. She actually said this once when I hadn’t gotten a job I’d wanted: “They didn’t hire you because you’re too pretty.”
Also, according to my mother, any kind of nasty word thrown in my direction by a school friend was the direct result of their jealousy over my all-around awesomeness. The best part is she honestly believed it. And who doesn’t need someone in their camp that thinks you’re awesome and beautiful, and who is willing to bust some heads for you?
But like all things, there is another side to this story. My mother was, shall we say, very comfortable with me. She would say almost anything to me, including this gem.
Me: “Mom! How do you like my new hair cut?”
Mom, looking over my new ‘do: “Well, all the girls will love it because no boy will look at you now.”
Yes, she actually said that, though she denied it later.
On another occasion, my brother, Jeff, and I were up at my parents house, each of us lamenting having to go to work at our respective Good Professional Grown Up Jobs the following Monday.
Mom: “I feel bad for Jeff.”
Me: “I have to go to work tomorrow, too, you know.”
Mom: “Yes, but Jeff’s job is hard.”
She was my biggest advocate and biggest detractor, though she didn’t see it that way.
I miss her. In the 12+ years she’s been gone, my husband and I have gone from a couple of two to a family of five. It hurts me to know my mother will never know them, and it hurts me more to know my children will never know her.
I know having her here wouldn’t be all sunshine and unicorns and rainbows – for starters, she’d have an aneurysm over my short hair cut. She’d probably say just the right things over my child rearing to send me into a stroke. And she’d find a way to work the Brownies thing into the conversation and it would royally piss me off, which would confuse her.
“Why are you so angry? You did quit Brownies,” she’d reason.
But I’d take it just to have her back.