I am not your friend.
My mother is a woman who lives by several mottos, but this was her refrain to her beloved children in their teenage years. And she was right. Even at the time I knew she was right. Even when I was pissed off at her for not being my friend, it pissed me off even more because I knew she was right. Because teenagers are assholes. Even the goody-goody ones, like I was. It's a scientific fact verified by scientific science-people. And the worst thing you can do for an asshole is make them think that is OK, or try to get on their side. She didn't care if we thought she was cool or nice. I mean, I'm sure it would have made her happy to know we thought she was cool or nice, which she definitely is but at the time she sacrificed that for what she believed was more important and that was doing her job to make sure we didn't get released into the world as assholes. Not on her watch. If it continued beyond adolescence, it wouldn't be because she allowed it.
I always assumed I'd have kids, and it never occurred to me that I wouldn't parent them like my mother parented us. I never once thought, "When I grow up I'll do things differently." Because even in the throes of my most histronic rages over being denied whatever it was that resulted in the end of the world at age 16, I knew that the heart of Bad Cop Carmen was the heart of the mother who ultimately had my back. Who was doing this for my own good. Her plan of attack was put in place because she loved us more than a word could encompass, because she was more than our friend, because she knew that we needed to hear "no" when we didn't want to and that fighting our battles for us wouldn't do us any favors in the long run. And we are all better people for it. That's one of the life lessons for which I'm most grateful. Thank you, Mom, for that.
This is not to say that my mother isn't sweet or kind or lovely. She is all of those things. But she is also the toughest person I've ever met, and she's that way because she had to be. It was the result of life, of being a very young woman who had to deal with her baby's illness, to fight tooth and nail for her care and to ultimately lose her to that horrible disease. To be stricken with her own health problems at every stage of life. To witness the disappearance of her beloved father into the abyss of Alzheimer's and now to be in charge of her own mother's increasing needs. It's not that she hasn't had a happy life, it's just that she's been tested more times than I can imagine.
This heard-earned toughness naturally put her in the role of disciplinarian. My dad is softer. It's not that he didn't do his share of keeping us in line, but we actually feared my mother. As a kid, I didn't think about whether this is was something she actually enjoyed. The idea was, "Mom is scary and Dad will let me get away with more." And even though I was subconsciously aware that my mother's unwillingness to be my friend was for my benefit, it didn't strike me until I was an adult that maybe it was really secretly hard for her to be the bad guy all the time. Another of her favorite sayings is, "Don't fuck with me, and life will be fine." She lives by it (my maternal line is responsible for my love of a perfectly turned swearword), and so do the people in her path, accordingly. But it had to be a real bummer sometimes to know that it would be years before her kids would know that disciplining them wasn't her idea of fun. It must have hurt sometimes that we were at odds while my dad got to be the fun guy, to know that it would have been easier to just give in. I respect what it took for her to stick with it up and down and in every direction, and I will keep her example as my totem when it's my turn at bat.
I'm not the kind of person who says, "My mother is my best friend and we talk on the phone every day." My mother is my mother, and we are friends now, but our relationship is more than friends. It's bigger than friends. I think the reason she doesn't make it into so many entries or pictures is because she is such a huge presence in my life, I assume you all can see it too. Sometimes her MS acts up and she has to miss out on things. Sometimes she's home taking care of HR while the rest of us are out making photo-ops. But she's always there. And if you are lucky enough to have her in your life, you can say the same.
Just don't fuck with her, and life will be fine.
Love you muchest, Mom. Happy Mother's Day