My mom grew up in a household where “I love you” was not frequently said. Hugs were an anomaly. Her parents, for the most part, did not take great interest in her activities. Perhaps this standoffish approach is a generational thing. My mom’s parents are very, very old (87 and 91). Maybe something about growing up in rural central Utah during the 20s and early 30s resulted in non-touchy-feely personalities that are quick to argue and slow to express affection. Perhaps my grandparents were just tired, when my mom came along. They were 42 and 45 when she, the youngest of six…spanned over 19 years, was born. Whatever the cause, my mom vowed to be the antithesis of her parents. That is, to be hands-on; to express affection; to support her children in their activities; to tell her children that she loves them.
In many ways, my mother is indeed the antithesis of hers. My grandmother is a post-WWII era housewife: quiet, submissive, passive-aggressive, OCD. From what recollections I have of my parents’ marriage, my mother was an equal partner. Decisions were made together. My mother was the assertive one. She may have acquired some of her mother’s preoccupations with a clean house, but she doesn’t scrub floors with toothbrushes. My mother has also gone out of her way to support me and my siblings in our extracurricular endeavors. She has attended numerous soccer and basketball games, swim meets, piano recitals, band and choir concerts, plays, marching band competitions, awards nights, and more. She reads my papers when I need another set of eyes to look at them. My mom is my oldest friend. Even after a yelling match, she hugs me and says “I love you.”
I don’t doubt it.
There are many ways in which I am different from my mother. There are many ways in which we are the same. I am a unique hybrid of her and where-on-earth-did-this-come-from-?. We are both loyal, almost to a fault. We firmly believe what we believe, though we believe in different things; our belief systems guide all our actions, and we are eager to share what we know to be true with those we encounter. We are criers. We think the solution to a crappy day involves Nora Ephron movies and chocolate and Redvines. If that doesn’t work, it is naptime. We believe in telling the people who matter to us that they do, indeed, matter to us. We see healing power in a perfectly-golden grilled cheese sandwich. We know how important the words “I love you” are.
Somewhere between the importance of Dr. Pepper and classic rock.