November 29, 2013
Thanksgiving has passed, but the weekend of giving thanks is still upon us. This is the perfect opportunity to list all of the people, places and things for which I am most grateful. And I will, but today is not that day…
Each of my 4 children is unique. Each needed me in completely different ways growing up. Thus, I had to parent each child differently. Given my propensity for maintaining different “Vickies” throughout my life, being a different mom for each of my children was a piece of cake.
My oldest daughter, Muffin. is visiting me for the holiday. She is a senior at a private college in Florida, majoring in psychology. She has made a life for herself all the way on the other side of the country from me, and has done a pretty good job. Muffin is well on her way to living the life she was meant to live.
Muffin has done well with her academics. I recognized early on that she was going to give me a run for my money in the brains department. I am a fairly intelligent individual. However, I rarely reached passed what was easy for me. Not so, Muffin. She has always reached passed her limits.
Muffin was 8 years old when I graduated from college. I graduated with honors and there were several semesters that I had maintained straight “A’s”. Muffin was proud of me, but she saw a challenge.
“Mom, when did you get straight A’s for the first time?” she asked me one day when she was about 9.
“The first time was when I was in college, why?”
“Because I’m gonna get straight A’s before you did!”
And damned if she didn’t. It wasn’t but a year later that she was proudly showing me her report card; all A’s.
Muffin was smart and all, but she had a tendency of thinking she knew more than her mother, me. And I was thoroughly convinced that, in fact, one day, she would know more than her mother, me. However, that day was not going to be while she was still a child, or even a teenager. Nope, that day would come much later.
Growing up, I was especially annoyed at the fact that Muffin would rarely yield when arguing with me. I was, and am, a logical person, so I argue from logic. Muffin was, and is, an emotional person, so she argues from a place of emotion. Really, neither one of us was apt to concede. But moms always have a trump card.
“Muffin, someday you are going to be smarter than me. Today is not that day.” That usually cinched it, she would concede.
In addition to giving me a run for my money with her intelligence, she was close to besting me in the nurturing department, as well. During the three years I attended college, my daughters lived with my brother and his wife in California. Muffin was 4 and her sister Mimi was 3 when they went to live a whole state away from me. Muffin took it upon herself to shelter her sister from any negative feelings resulting from being apart from their mother.
Muffin took care of Mimi as only a big sister could. Muffin was the big sister, the teacher, the comforter, the leader, the care taker to Mimi. Muffin wistfully remembers those days, and as she does, I can see a trace of pain flicker across her face. Mimi fondly remembers those days, and as she does, bemused happiness spreads across hers. Muffin has always tried to shield her sister from the negative aspects of life. Mimi was tremendously blessed to have Muffin for a big sister.
To illustrate the bond these two sisters have, I can recall two events. The first one isn’t so much an event as it was a moment in time. It is etched in my memory forever. Muffin was 11 or 12, so Mimi had to be 10 or 11. It was a summer day, but not too sweltering. Both girls were playing in the backyard. I was in the kitchen, looking out of the window into the backyard. A smile widened across my face. I saw Muffin and Mimi lying together in a hammock in the grass. They were facing each other and talking and smiling at one another. They were beautifully animated. The love they have for each other was and has always been apparent. I almost felt like an intruder that day, watching them, it was touching.
Protective, Muffin is fiercely protective of her sister. When Muffin was a senior and her sister was a junior in high school, they switched schools. Muffin was ok with the switch, she was ready for the adventure of a much bigger high school. Her sister however, was extremely nervous, so much so, that she was overwhelmed on the first day, standing in an empty hallway when the bell rang to switch classes. Muffin and I were inside the counselor’s office as a wave of students overtakes her Mimi It was all Mimi could do to hold her ground. I had never seen her so overcome with emotion; not Mimi, but Muffin The look of emotion on Muffin’s. face was heartbreaking. I knew that she would hold her sister’s hand and protect her until Mimi could do it on her own. Mimi has and Muffin did.
Having completed her ‘job’ of nurturing and protecting her sister, it was time for Muffin to go and make a life for herself. The “Goodbye,” was emotionally charged the day she left for college. That was a little over three years ago. What a difference a little time makes. Or, maybe not.
Last night as we were cleaning the kitchen together, I turned to Muffin and asked her, “Do you remember when I used to tell you, ‘Muffin, one day you will be smarter than me; today is not that day’?”
She smiled and said, “Yes, of course I remember.”
“Well,” I said, “that day is fast approaching.” At which point she smiled even broader.
Muffin is the same kind, gentle, giving soul she was when she left. She is also the same stubborn, and sometimes defiant young lady she was when she left. She is the same girl who left here three years ago. But, she comes home to me a much smarter, more savvy, woman of the world. She is living the life she was meant to live. I am proud to say that I had a hand in shaping the beautiful young woman she has become. I love her more than even I can express. By the way dear Readers, she is smarter than me, but don’t tell her. Peace, ~v.