I used to wish my mom was more like the Totino’s Pizza Roll mom. So together. So tidy. The epitome of sophistication — and totally NOT Heather (my mom), who, by the way, NEVER had any pizza rolls in the house.
No — my mother, well…she embarrassed the shit out of me on a very regular basis. Heather got a tramp stamp intended to pay tribute to her dead parents (yep, a giant homage to her folks right above where her poo exits). Plus, she was always wearing toe rings.
But yesterday, I had a startling epiphany while pairing socks and watching “Beaches.” Naked aside from the tights I wore to work that day, I lay spread eagle, sobbing with snot pouring over my open lips as I sang along with Bettle Midler. “Did you ever know that you’re my *hiccup* herooooooo *hiccup*.” It was like I was previewing myself from outside of my own body when it dawned on me: I had become my mother. I stared at the spinning ceiling, running a list in my head. What other of my mother’s offenses was I guilty of, and for how long?
I don’t know, RAVEN, CAN you help me!? I’ve been on hold for, oh, about the past seven years.
Offense one: Getting snippy with customer service
You do NOT want to mess with Heather after she’s been on hold for five minutes. I’d listen from the living room, covering my body with couch cushions as if they’d shield me from the humiliation as my mom used her “don’t fuck with me” voice:
“Well, this is completely unacceptable, LISA. I’ve been a customer of yours for a VERY long time. Probably before you were born. I would hate to, after all this time, take my business elsewhere. And you better believe I’ll be letting all my friends know how you treat your customers.”
Now, adult me is all, “I don’t know, RAVEN, can you help me!? I’ve been on hold for, oh, about the past seven years. At this rate, I doubt any Comcast employee is capable of helping anyone, ever.” Oh my god, I’m turning into my mother.
Offense two: Flirting with the waiter…badly
“The wink,” was the absolute worst…and by “was,” I mean “is,” because it is very much still a thing. In fact, she recently ended a particularly dysfunctional relationship with a man that was a server at Outback Steakhouse. No more Bloomin’ Onion for us, I guess.
Now writing love letters on my bill is a reason for going out in the first place. You can’t blame a girl for trying. Free fries don’t suck, plus sometimes the bartender is just really cute. I’m totally my mom.
Offense three: Driving irresponsibly
I was in Kindergarten when my mom inadvertently used me as a human kite. I was exiting the back of her sedan when the door closed on the drawstring to my dolphin-print book bag. Of course, it was still strapped to my back when mom took off like Jeff Gordon. It’s funny how a moment seems to last forever when thrashing behind a Berreta. I remember thinking: Is she going to take me all the way to work?! What if we hit a red light?
Thankfully, she caught a glimpse of me flailing in her rearview mirror before she left the parking lot. I suffered only a few scrapes, but sat in the car bawling — not because I was hurt, but because I was convinced all my classmates had seen me bobbing along like the cans on the back of a newlywed’s car.
Today, I admit my own driving record is less than spotless. I swore I’d take the story of my first car accident to the grave. It was a summer afternoon and I had just bought my first car — a dark purple Chrysler. It was probably uninsured. With my windows down and Top 40 on blast, I headed out to hang with friends at Panera (as you do in High School). I put the car in reverse with all the confidence of a booty dancer in a Ludacris music video, and smacked swiftly into my sister’s boyfriend’s car. I looked behind me to see what had happened, and without another thought, sped down the street like I was auditioning for “Tokyo Drift.”
Of course, I denied the whole thing. Korey, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. Blame mom, because clearly, I am her.
Offense four: Talking about money problems to literally ANYONE who will listen
It didn’t matter if she was speaking to family, a total stranger, or worst: my friends. I mean, I’m trying to convince people we’re not actually white trash and you’re totally blowing my cover, mom!
Now that I know what living on your own is like, I deeply empathize with my mom. She was single throughout the majority of my upbringing, with three kids to provide for. How could money NOT consume all her daily thoughts? Her constant financial worries didn’t make her weak; in fact, she was a warrior for her badass ability to keep her spirits high, while still managing to raise kids and have a career.
Unfortunately, I don’t have three children to justify my constant ranting about the state of my bank account. I really just need everyone to know all my life struggles, tell me it’s going to be OK and (most importantly) that I look pretty. I’m blowing my own cover and I’m totally cool with it. Of course I am. I’m my mother.
Offense five: Using coupons
BAM! Here you go, FRAN! Bet ya weren’t expecting that, were ya?!
There was NO GREATER SHAME than watching Heather root through her purse for a coupon as I stood at her side, mortified by her manic dedication to saving 50 cents on a jug of Clorox. Worse was when a coupon expired or didn’t apply to that store, but she argued for the cashier to accept it.
Now, whenever I hand the cashier a coupon, I’m all, “BAM! Here you go, FRAN! Bet ya weren’t expecting that, were ya?! That’s it! Knock that price tag right on down. What’s that new price again? $5 for a 10-pack of Hanes Her Way cotton underwear?!?” Yep. I’m Heather.
Offense six: Peeing with the door open
As a kid I was like,”Ew, mom, I can hear your trickle.”
Now I consider this one of the major perks of living on my own. I can’t explain it. It just feels good. In fact, on more than one occasion I’ve eaten entire meals on the toilet (with my dog watching me judgmentally, of course). For fucks sake, I’m my mom.
Offense seven: Walk around the house in underwear…or less
My mother was constantly in her underoos around the house, and to be honest, we were lucky if she even wore those. I actually know my mom’s breasts better than my own. I’d plead with her to put on some pants or a robe. I was embarrassed for her! She’d simply reply, “This is my house, I’ll wear what I want!”
You know what? She wasn’t wrong! She also wasn’t wrong about the very real joy of hanging out with your tits out. Strutting around the house in my granny panties feels like a funny secret with myself. Sometimes I leave the blinds open just for kicks (word to my neighbors). When I decide to have kids, I’ll probably consider robing up (because this isn’t the Amazonian bush), but who can really say how far I’ll go to traumatize my children? This was an important lesson, mom.
Offense eight: Crying excessively
Because, you know what? Being a badass woman doesn’t always mean being sophisticated or glamorous.
Happy crying, mad crying, sad crying…it didn’t matter what the emotion was — her upper lip would start to quiver and my eyes would roll back in my head like a slot machine.
Nowadays? Just TRY to catch me on a day where I haven’t cried at least twice. In an Uber with the driver listening uncomfortably, on the bus reading Chicken Soup for the Soul (because it’s a classic), eating a burrito with my dog (possibly because I’m eating a burrito with my dog) you name the spot, I’ve cried there. It’s surely a hardship for anyone who has to endure us, but sometimes I think that, just maybe, it’s kind of cool to be able to experience emotion on such a deep level. My mom taught me that.
Because, you know what? Being a badass woman doesn’t always mean being sophisticated or glamorous. It means being human, being real and doing what it takes to get shit done. I’m certain the Totino’s Pizza roll mom couldn’t have taught me that.