Back when I was a DINK, I never thought about children. I mean, I would think about them in passing, if I came across one. If the baby/toddler/child was screaming, I would think “Wow. I am NEVER having kids.” If it was behaving nicely, or doing something cute, I would think about having children, much in the same way I would think about adopting a stray when I came across a cute puppy in the park. “Oh, how adorable! I should get one.” The urge would last for an hour, or a day, and then be gone. I didn’t want to be a mother for the same reasons I didn’t want to have a pet. I didn’t have time, I didn’t have the space, I was never home, and I hated cleaning up poop. Most importantly, I had a hard enough time taking care of myself, much less another being (whether two legged or four). I didn’t even take into account the dreaded Mother’s Curse. I didn’t believe in curses back then, but I do now (knocking wood, turning around three times and spitting for luck).
For the uninitiated, the Mother’s Curse is one of the most evil, longest lasting, most dreaded curses on the planet. It is sometimes shouted, with finger outstretched, through clenched teeth, at a teenager who is in full-fledged drama mode. Even more frightening was the way my mother delivered her curse. I have no doubt that I had said something rude (I was, after all, a teenager). My mother didn’t get angry. She took a deep breath, smiled, and said (in her sweet, southern drawl) the worst thing any woman could say to another.
“I hope you have a daughter who is just like you.”
At the time, seeing that I believed I was a Perfect Child, I thought she was paying me a compliment. Young people are foolish.
Not that I was a bad kid, by any means. Not for the first few years, at least. I was a One and Only for 8 great years, and then my parents came home with a baby boy (which pissed me off no end, seeing that I really wanted a sister. Or a pony). I loved my brother, but mostly when he was sleeping.
Becoming a mother didn’t change that for me. I still loved my baby most when she was sleeping. It’s not that she was a bad kid, but she was a kid…and, with no mothers to guide us, my husband and I were at a loss. So we did the best we could, and our daughter seemed to be turning out alright – until last week.
Last week, our daughter, who seemed to be fulfilling her grandmother’s wish that she turn out just like me (smart, funny, and Practically Perfect in Every Way), moved into the second part of The Mother’s Curse, aka “The Mother’s Curse, part Duh – Teendom.”
My husband and I are very lucky – our daughter has been an easy teen. People compliment us on our wonderful parenting skills, but we know the truth – we lucked out. Our daughter was even-tempered and considerate of others – until last week. Last week I confronted her with what seemed to be a small transgression. I meant only to point out that she had not been completely honest, and suggested she make some changes before the end of the school year, or there would be Serious Consequences. Seeing that she had been sane, up until that moment, I had no idea what I was in for. She made excuses, and I called her on them – and the drama ensued, complete with tears, screaming, sobs and slamming doors. In all fairness, I have to admit that I was the one who slammed the door (it’s just as satisfying now as it was when I was a teen).
Ninety minutes later, my daughter was curled up in my arms, snuffling back the last of her tears. “I’m sorry mommy – I will try harder. I love you soooooo much.” I held her tightly, and whispered to her as she fell asleep – “I love you too baby doll. And some day, I hope you have a daughter just like you.”
I’m pretty sure I heard my mother laughing.