A Moment of Clarity

February 12th, 2013 posted by Susan Barclay

girl I remember the first day I realized it, that first moment of perfect clarity in which I came to the conclusion that my mother had been, and always would be, right about everything. Not just about the little things, but about every single thing. She waited up for me that night, not wanting to go to sleep until each member of her little family was safely home and in bed. I sat on the kitchen counter, telling her about my evening, when the epiphany came like the proverbial lightening bolt, this godlike woman sitting in front of me, at the kitchen table, had been correct about the course of my life. And it scared me. Over the summer of my 17th year, when I saw my old friends slipping away, preparing for careers in the fast-food and retail sales fields as I prepared for my first year of university, it dawned on me that my mother had predicted this turn of events as far back as the ninth grade. “You’ll find you won’t stay friends forever,” she would say, in response to my declarations of undying loyalty and togetherness, when she and I had one of our usual fights about the quality of my school-skipping, alcohol drinking friends. And, as my path diverged from the usual adolescent pursuits of boys and music to scholarship and career, my old friends moved on with their lives, as we no longer had anything in common. Hoping this was an isolated incident, I spent that night awake, searching for more of her portentous advice, finding instance after instance of her wisdom come to fruition. There had been the regular admonitions that some boys were only interested in one thing or not to waste my money on that blouse when the fashion would be dying soon. But how many mothers could say, with complete honesty, that fateful day in 1942 had been all fun and games until my father lost an eye to a stray firework. And I recall ensuring all my limbs were safely inside the moving vehicle, in contrast to her friend in grammar school who learned to write with her left hand after that grade eight field trip. Only my mother could provide hard evidence of old wives’ tales coming true. A careful review of my life indicated that she had been inculcating me, from birth, with her motherly advice. She helped me save face more than once with her uncanny ability to accurately chart the trajectory of any given relationship, dropping hints when she saw the first warning signs of destruction. On those Friday nights, when the least beloved member of my group of friends invited me for a stay-over, she would say no, when she was assured that I really didn’t want to say yes. And she would allow me to blame her, as I artificially put her down to my friends for forbidding me to do the thing I least wanted to do. Although some might argue that she was setting me up for a life of irresponsibility and blaming others for my actions, it did prevent those messy arguments only two adolescent girls can have over nothing. Despite her seemingly psychic abilities, she did allow me to make my own mistakes, and learn from them. As a talented dressmaker, she tried desperately to make the most fashionable clothes in the season’s popular colors, then watched as I spent another day in black Levi’s and a concert T-shirt. But, eventually, I came begging for a prom dress and she made it without comment. Or when I insisted that pink and purple were excellent eye-shadow choices for someone with green eyes, she quietly gave me money for cosmetics, waiting for the day when I accepted that green and yellow enhanced my “natural beauty.” Nor did she comment when I decided to make it my life’s goals to grow my bangs down to my chin, except when it made driving difficult, or when I decided that having the tallest hair possible would be the one thing which made me popular. I question my sanity each time I look through one of my old school yearbooks, wondering how I could have possibly thought that blue was my color or why I back-combed my hair to new heights in my graduation picture, but not once have I heard an I-told-you-so or “see, your mother is always right.” Even though she was.

She had her moments, when her need to share her life experiences overrode my adolescent stubbornness and sense of conviction, regardless of the situations. Yes, she had been right when she suggested I would be happier at another secondary school, instead of just attending the neighborhood one to be with my friends. Yes, she was right that not eating for three days to lose weight would result in my passing out in McDonald’s. And yes, she was right when she said not to withdraw my savings from the bank, just so I could have a good summer with my friends. But otherwise, she watched and waited for me to come to her for advice. How maddening to realize I could have avoided seventeen years of mistakes, messy breakups, and ruined friendships if only I had consulted my mother each and every time I made a decision. How irritating to look back on my seemingly perpetual humiliations and bad fashion choices, knowing that one word from my Mom could have prevented them. But how reassuring to know that my mother, despite her foreknowledge of the way things would turn out, allowed me to live my life in my own way. Because she knew if I was to become the omniscient women into which she had evolved, she must permit me to use my faulty adolescent judgments and live with the consequences. That night, she merely thanked me for my observation of her eternal rightness and went upstairs to bed, suggesting that I follow her example. And I did.

Susan Barclay (1 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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