I wear my mother’s perfume from time to time.
And when I say her perfume, I don’t mean the scent she wore. I mean the scent my well-meaning father bought for her, despite the fact that I never, ever smelled perfume on my mother in my life.
Perfume gave her a headache.
Something you’d think my sweet father would have figured out after 60-some years of marriage.
So, the bottle of Jessica McClintock sat on her dresser for a loooong time. After she died, my sisters and I were going through her things. And the bottle of perfume no one wanted was the one I could not throw out.
Jessica McClintock is not really my scent. I wear Creed or Bottega Veneta, usually. Something with a bit more of a bite. But, I wore JM back in my high school days. When I put it on now, it takes me back to a simpler time.
And it reminds me of my parents.
As Mother’s Day approaches here in the States, I think about—who else—my mother, who passed on about three years ago.
It’s funny. You become a mother and you have visions of long heart-to-heart talks with your kids as they lovingly help you in the kitchen. Or a gaggle of young kids hanging out at your house on a Friday night, shooting hoops and eating you out of house and home.
Those things happen. Some of the time. And some other, unanticipated things happen also.
You lose your temper on a bad day and yell when your son is disrespectful. Which isn’t exactly the respectful example you wanted to show him as you lecture on appropriate behavior.
After a particularly trying day, you put your toddler to bed at 5:30 p.m. You know you’ll probably pay for this with an ungodly early wakeup call but if you don’t get a bubble bath, glass of wine and hour of mindless TV, you feel your head will explode. You know this will not win you Mother of the Year.
You say “yes” one too many times to assuage your guilt for being a mom who works longer hours than anyone in your house appreciates.
You screw it up from time to time, basically.
And you hit homeruns from time to time also.
But most of us are way too hard on ourselves.
It is our very imperfections, our humanity, that provide our children a window into self-acceptance when they screw up. Which they will do. Sometimes in colossal fashion. The world may not be so nice about it. But, hopefully, in that dark moment when they realize they’ve made a mess of things, they’ll look back and remember . . .
. . . that after I yelled, I apologized. And many times, instead of yelling, I gave myself a time-out and some deep breathing . . . and they will give themselves some room to breathe and move on in wiser fashion . . .
. . . that sometimes the best thing to do on a bad day is hit the sack early. Because tomorrow is another day with a shiny new glow to it . . .
. . . that “no” is a word we all need to learn and use often with ourselves, as well as others, to keep life from getting out of hand and to keep from losing our focus on what is truly important.
They will love me as they look back, hopefully, for my imperfections. Because a perfect mother is a sterile myth—one some women like to perpetuate.
But they don’t fool me.
I had the best teacher in this respect. My beautifully imperfect mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I’m still celebrating you.