When I dig the old family albums out, I always brace myself like I’m heading for a minor car accident that I’m unable to avoid…or that part of the Log Flume ride where all of the dirty water splashes up on your face.  The albums present photographic evidence of one mother of an awkward stage.  Collages of stone-washed denim, neon parachute pants, and enough scrunchies to make Debbie Gibson jealous as hell.  I was a child of the 80’s and it showed.  And from the looks of my smug smiles, I thought I looked damn good.  But that’s because my mother was an accomplice.  She handed me the shoulder pads.  And she told me I looked cute.

When I hit my teenage years and my early twenties, I started to blame more than my awkward stage on my mom…like many young girls do.  As I became more independent and experienced with life, I began to judge my mom for the job she did on me.  As invincible teenagers and all-knowing young adults, we often try to define our goals for parenting and other future endeavors by proclaiming: “I’ll never be like that” when we recount the decisions our mothers made.  We conveniently learn from our parents’ mistakes and wonder why they couldn’t have done it differently.  My relationship with my mom has had its ups and downs, but I have to say that no matter how critical I was of her at any given time, she was always ready to throw her arms around me with love and move on.  Maybe she was extremely patient.  Or maybe she laughed to herself on the inside, knowing what I had coming to me as a new mom.

When my own son arrived, he taught me a lesson that I could never accept from my mother: I was not as smart as I thought I was.  Being a mom was really hard.  And the only person who could really understand the depth of my self-doubt and the challenges of my new role was my own mom.  She never told me “I told you so.”  She never smirked at my hardship.  She just brushed the hair out of my face and told me I was doing a good job.  And when I handed my son to her and admired the way she held him, soothed him, and rocked him to sleep, it was a moment where we finally and genuinely met in the middle.  I was silently apologizing for assuming this job was easy and for judging her journey.  And, perhaps, she was silently apologizing for every single outfit I wore in the 80’s.