Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

It’s 6 AM on Mother’s Day, and I cannot sleep. In fact, since waking up at 5, I have not been able to drift back to the land of gumdrops and snooziekins. No, for some reason I cannot get my mom out of my mind. Maybe it’s because she’s sleeping four feet away from me and she’s snoring like a motorcycle that keeps revving its engine but never starts…for an hour. Either that or the Mother’s Day festivities, I am not really sure (I am leaning towards the former, though).

There is some subtle irony here, that on the day where I should be thankful for all you have done, you are not allowing me to get sleep to drive us both safely home from Atlantic City. You, the one who worries most about my capabilities and faculties when I’m behind the wheel is the one who is the biggest detriment to said abilities.

Update: as I’m writing this, my mom just woke up and asked if I can’t sleep. I told her that her snoring kept me up for the last hour. She replied, sleepily and slowly, that I should have just woken her up and told her to stop. Seeing me on the laptop, she muttered, “great, I’m going to be the next blog.” Happily, I told her that she would be.

There are times where I absolutely want to strangle the woman. Much like any healthy mother/son relationship, there are times where I absolutely cannot stand her. She babies me around when I’m twenty years old (pointing out obvious safety measures, such as finding the exits in the Borgata’s main hall, as if I couldn’t figure it out myself), and it becomes really, really bothersome. I don’t think she knows why it is such a pain.

My mom has done an incredible job raising me. There have been quiet times where she has asked me if she did a good job being a mom. She has questioned such things as talking to me frankly about where babies came from when I was in second grade, or letting me have the Wu-Tang Clan’s first album in third grade, or letting me watch South Park in sixth grade, and so on. She worries that we talk about too many things that are adult, that she knows too much about my life (she reads this blog, but thankfully refuses to read Manton vs. Woman). She worries that she has failed.

There is no better way to become a responsible, wizened adult than through her teaching, parenting, and care. I am directly the way I am today because of she, and of course how my dad, have shaped me. No matter how many times I say it, she worries. I think that’s just her natural inclination. Lawyers law, writers write, mothers worry.

If you know me, there was sort of a pivotal event this past summer that really opened my eyes and changed my perceptions of many people and things. My mom warned me of the possibilities of such an event years ago. Of course, I ignored her warnings, called her overprotecting, and blazed (literally) forward. And then, of course, she was right. Luckily, she gave me the tools to analyze the situation in such a way that I could see why it would happen and what to do.

She has taught me many things over the course of my 20 years on this planet. She has taught me that your name means everything, that people will remember your actions and your ideals long after they forget who you really are. Always do the right thing, even if it means sacrifice. There is nothing more important than your character, and that you should protect it at all times.

She never placated or talked down to me when I was younger; almost always ensuring that I was some sort of an equal. She would commend me on how smart I was, but it was more of her believing that I was at a certain maturity level—both intellectually and otherwise—that made me strive to reach such a level. She urged me forward to learn and to voice my opinion. Unfortunately, that just meant that when other kids would back talk at 15, I was doing it at 12.

Most importantly, she always allowed me to speak my mind. To a certain extent, that has made me bossy around the house, never relenting (and consequently, never shutting up). While she might regret that, without such a push and backing, something like this site would never be possible.

In second grade, my mom was reading some assignments that I had written that either did not follow the proper directions or did not fully answer the question, but I received a check plus (the standard for excellence, even in college). She asked the teacher why I am getting those marks, especially when I was not doing the proper work. My teacher smiled, and then remarked that he is coming to his own conclusions, and that it should be nurtured. Mom was mortified, but my teacher new better. She saw down the line what this could mean, although I’m sure it was never me talking about That Guy. Instead, she saw a little boy who was bursting at the seams to continue openly discussing topics, much like he was able to at home. She saw a parent who was pushed to openly discuss issues and ideas, and that was surely more important than using all five spelling words in the paragraph.

My mother gave me my voice. She pushed me to use proper language (we urinate, we don’t pee; we have a penis, not a pickle) and to explore new words to express how I felt. I would ask her different words for being sad, and she would dole them out to me as if she was a thesaurus. She is directly the reason why I cling to writing to get out my feelings, emotions, and most importantly, my thoughts. She’s an avid reader, and passed on to me some kind of love for reading (only some).

My mom was also the only one who always believed in me, lapping me by about seven years by now. There was never a time where she didn’t say she loved me, that she was proud of me, how grateful she was to be my mom. Maybe I have taken it for granted, not having the experience of having a parent who doesn’t say those things. Now when she says them, they’re irksome, like a broken record.

A few days ago my parents were complementing me on my grades this past semester (the best report card I have ever, and will ever, receive). My dad was saying that he’s proud of me, and my mom cut him short, saying that he is in so many words alluding that they weren’t proud of me before hand. So my dad started on a list of things that he was proud of me for. I eventually yelled for the both of them to shut up because it was giving me a headache. I wonder how many kids would yearn for the ability to do that.
With time has come perspective. This is not an easy situation that my family is currently in. Here I am, two years of college finished, and looking forward to spending the majority of the next two years 225 miles away from them in Boston. The constant shoving match between maternal care and independence is an every day affair.

There were many times here in Atlantic City where I had to chastise my mom for treating me like a child. There was even a point where she was telling me how to lock a hotel room door for extra protection (“but you have to let me in because I can’t unlock that top lock, ya know”). I got very upset, and in a snotty voice retorted, “like I don’t know how to use a friggin’ hotel room door. Jesus Mom, I’m twenty. Stop!” She recoiled and left.

What I don’t think my mom understands is why I would say something like this. In her mind, this is me just lashing out, being hurtful, and trying to assert my own power (her favorite term when I was a teenager was, “you’re feeling your oats”). Instead, she should see it as a perversely positive aspect of her parenting. She has gotten me to the point where I am not just ready to be independent, in many respects I am, and it is thanks to her. I’m probably driving the knife home and twisting it, but she is responsible for the way I am now. When I snap back at her, it’s because she has already taught me that (I knew how to lock the hotel door when we went to Disney in ’92 or ’93) and she doesn’t need to go back and fix things.

My mom’s biggest problem is letting go. I am an only child, and even if I wasn’t, this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a parent to do. But in some ways it is. She has guided me through life to a point where I do not need her as much as she would like, but that is exactly what a good parent should strive for. In reality, she has achieved all that a parent could want. She just doesn’t believe in herself.

Just as she always believed in me, I always believed that she was doing the right thing for me. There are several methods of parenting, and they all have their own affects. The absentee mother with the latchkey kid will make said child into a spoiled, self-important, immature adult. The parent who never talks to their kid makes him or her more apt to do things that are either against the parent’s wishes, or simply doesn’t know any better. The parent who tells their kids to keep all emotions inside leaves him or her a ticking time bomb of angst, anger, and sadness until their body cannot take it anymore and they somehow get this energy out, mostly in uncomfortable ways.

I see other kids and I wonder why they are like this. Why was my roommate freshman year such a selfish douche? Why was that one kid in my class so eager to put everyone else down? Why can’t people understand things the way I do? Why do kids have to lie to their parents about their drinking when all they are doing is pushing that inevitable blow up farther down the line?

I realize that it is all because how great of a mom I have.

The time has come for me to try and sleep again, so that I’m well rested to drive half of the Anton family back home safely (although I could do it right now anyway, I’m just humoring her). For the record, she is still snoring in the exact same position. Oh well, can’t win’em all. I wonder if she thought that me writing my blog about her would turn into this. Well, if she wasn’t crying already (a 1 to 100 long shot), here goes:

Sometimes the drawback to artists is that they cannot let their work go. They constantly rewrite, repaint, reshape their subject until it is no longer what they really wanted, too concerned about the small details and missing the big picture. Mom, it’s time to put the brush down. It’s time to put away the red pen. It’s time to pack up the clay scraper. Sure, every now and then you can refine some edges, or change a few words, maybe even take off some excess clay. Your job is complete. Now, put it on display for the world to judge. I think you’ll get some good reviews.

Happy Mothers’ Day, Mommy


Anonymous said...

i love mama anton and you. im crying so she better be too.
<3 katy

Strype said...

That was very touching, young Michael. Give my regards to The Big M on Big M's Day for being our number one fan.