My mother is arriving tomorrow night, to spend Christmas week with Fuzzy and me, and I’ve resolved that this year, I will not be twelve from the moment she enters my front door, to the moment she leaves.
I will not react like a small child when she criticizes my housekeeping skills, my taste in decor (or books), the television shows I watch, or the foods I keep in my refrigerator and pantry.
I will not snark at her when she pokes her nose into those aspects of my life where she is least welcome, and asks when we’re planning to have children, or why we spent thousands of dollars replacing the living room carpet with wood, instead of a few hundred on bookshelves for the library, where books are still in boxes.
I will not take it personally when she makes derisive comments about the traffic, the quality of service at the local restaurants, the overtly religious culture, or the weather, because none of those things are under my control, and she is not, after all, criticizing ME, in those instances.
I will remember that she travelled 2500 miles in a flying tin can, in December, to leave her warm beachfront house and spend Christmas with her only daughter, in yet another new home, in yet another new town, nowhere near the beach, where it is cold enough that her feet will have to be wrapped in socks and shoes. I will further remember that she left her dog behind, with strangers, two days after the poor thing had teeth pulled.
I will remember all the times when I was growing up, that she worked extra hours so that I could have dance lessons, a bike, a dog, piano lessons, music camp, Shakespeare camp, and college tuition, even if it meant that she didn’t get home until after seven at night on Christmas Eve, or had to work on my birthday.
I will remember the countless hours she spent making clothes for me, and my dolls, the cookies she always made on time for school parties I forgot to tell her about (despite being a single mother who worked full time), and the amazing homemade Halloween costumes I had, every year, until I turned eighteen.
I will remember that after Fuzzy and I eloped, even though she was bitterly disappointed, she welcomed him into our family unwaveringly, and made an effort to get to know him, and that she later threw us a reception and feast.
I will remember that any time I’ve ever needed money, she’s come through with a loan.
I will remember that her criticism, though often unwelcome, and sometimes badly expressed, comes from a place of love and concern, and that now, just as always, she wants me to be happy and healthy and safe and loved.
I will counter-act my urge to be snarky and sarcastic by brewing tea, and singing songs, and bringing up happy memories.
Or at least, I will try.
But if nothing else, this year, I will NOT be twelve.
Not even for a moment.