We Grew Up
It happened again today: my daughter called and wanted her mommy. I find it hard to believe that, at thirty years old, she still needs me in this capacity. My Darling has three children of her own, but doubt creeps into her mind as to whether she is doing a good job with them or not. Truth be told, I am not the mother I would now have liked to have been to her, and I am amazed when she believes that my advice will help her.
I fell in lust with My Darling’s father when I was fifteen years old. He and I both thought it was love, and we finally made the mistake of not using protection from pregnancy when I was seventeen. Baby Daddy and I wanted to “do the right thing.” We told our parents we would get married and raise our child together. As I look back now, it all seemed to be the best fairy tale I could have hoped for. He got a decent job, we rented a decent apartment, I had our beautiful daughter shortly after my eighteenth birthday, and we thought we couldn’t be any happier than we were at that moment in time. There were many times The Husband went out after a long day’s work and brought home the pizza and cheesecake Pregnant Wife craved. How could it get any better?
It didn’t. It all came to a screeching halt less than two years later. Baby Daddy got tired of coming home to a cranky wife and crying baby. I could barely cook a decent, well-balanced meal and was certainly not a great housekeeper. Laundry was the bane of my daily existence. I got tired of calling around town to find out where the heck he was. Was he still out on a job for work, or at one of the many watering holes between work and home? And I mistakenly thought, up until several years ago, that I was the one who had grown up and left him behind. I thought I had matured while he hung on to his boyhood charm and demeanor. As far as I was concerned, Baby Daddy was having lots of fun going off to work every day, including Saturday, and I was stuck at home, raising our newborn daughter alone.
Eventually, Baby Daddy moved out, I gave up the apartment and moved home to Mom and Dad. My first real job was waitressing at a local hotel. Of course, it was a whole new world of people for me, and I found that laughing and partying after work were fun, as long as Mom and Dad watched over My Darling. Unfortunately, it was also the first real time I had been employed, and I didn’t take all of my responsibilities seriously. Getting to work on time was a huge problem after happy hour and then being up half the night with a sick baby. Employers tend to frown on chronically late employees. Surprisingly, they kept me for an entire year.
My next job was at a high-class, well-established restaurant as a cashier and hostess. It didn’t start until 10 a.m., and that was fine with me. But I had a daughter to provide for, and it didn’t give me enough hours to buy My Darling all the things she needed and keep me in pantyhose. Mom and Dad kicked in quite a bit of cash for both of us. How could it get any better?
It didn’t. Sooner than later, my high life got old with Mom and Dad. Mom was staying up more nights than normal with a sick granddaughter, and Dad was the one making breakfast and combing out snarls for My Darling to get off to school. I had to sleep sometime, right? I received my Giant Wake-up Call one night when returning from a happy hour that had stretched into the next morning. The doors were locked, deadbolted, and Mom was on the other side, feet firmly planted. I was not coming back into their home without a damn good plan to get my life together, or I would lose My Darling forever. That was one mistake I was determined not to make. At that point, I made up my booze-addled mind to shape up rather than ship out. Mom and Dad stood behind me each step of the way and encouraged me to be the strong, brave woman they thought they had raised. No, they didn’t always agree with the steps I was taking to better myself and my life, but they took the time to redirect me.
With Mom and Dad’s blessings, My Darling and I moved into a small apartment. I got a more responsible job in a local hospital, with good pay and good benefits. Dad still helped with getting My Darling off to school and she definitely benefited from all the time she spent with them and the rest of my family. I set my mind that My Darling wouldn’t get pregnant at seventeen, not attend college, and enter into a swirling black hole of despair. A few years later, I met and eventually married My For-Life Husband. He taught me the value of a dollar, and that loving sometimes meant being strict and firm in my decisions.
My Darling didn’t always like the rules, but that was okay; her children don’t always like the rules, either. That’s why she calls her mommy. There is someone in everyone’s life who truly knows that person; I know My Darling. I don’t pretend to know what it is like having three children under age five underfoot each day, but I have felt frustration. She often needs to just vent her feelings; when she has doubts, she will ask the question that is weighing on her mind. Many times, it is just knowing that I am here to listen and encourage her that smooths her ruffled feathers. My Darling amazes me each and every time we talk or see each other. As far as I am concerned, she has done all the right things. How can she doubt her abilities to be a wife, a mother, an employee, a friend? Somehow, even with all my misteps and mistakes, My Darling grew into a lovely, capable, intelligent woman. She is an accomplished nurse. She is great with her family’s finances; they bought a home when she was twenty-six! Friends and coworkers seek her out for advice. My Darling has a wonderful sense of humor that, if you were to meet her children, you would see in them. She is extraordinary. I admire her.
That’s not to say I think she is better than or smarter than me. I was not better than or smarter than my Mom, but it took a good many years for me to feel like I was Mom’s equal. My Darling has been my womanly equal since she graduated high school. She had already earned my respect and as a woman and a mother, today, I hold her in high esteem. But, age does have some privilege and that is why I will always be her Mommy.