My mom likes jewelry. I decided to start there.
Luckily, shopping websites now have those handy budget tools to usher along the purchase process for holidays such as Mother’s Day. So, I plugged in the dollar limit I could afford. It’s basically the adult version of dumping your piggy bank on a sales counter and asking what you can get with it.
Bingo. There it was, the perfect, shiny, sterling silver medallion. Well, perfect if it weren’t for the inscription: My mother, my friend.
My mother didn’t raise me as my friend. She raised me as my mother. That’s why I turned out the way I did. That’s also why my appreciation for her has no limit, dollar or otherwise. But my wallet does. As much as I tried to justify the medallion, I couldn’t. It just didn’t make sense.
I remember the girls who had friends for mothers. Growing up, kids thought of them as the “cool moms.” Over the years, that translated to different things. In junior high, it meant mother and daughter dug into the same closet. If a mom dressed like us, she got the “cool” label.
Let that swirl around for a second.
We’re talking about women with crow’s feet sharing the fashion sense of girls with diaries. The same poor judgment that led middle-age mothers to Contempo Casuals was responsible for them deciding that befriending a daughter was a better idea than mothering her.
Fortunately, my mom never took an interest in emulating the fashion pages of Seventeen magazine. She preferred the “take me seriously” look. And it worked. It’s a lot harder to mouth off to a woman wearing a skirt suit and pumps than it is if she’s draped in your oversized E.N.U.F. sweatshirt.
By high school, my peers decided to expand the definition of a “cool mom” to include, not just outward appearance but attitude, too. Some might call it leniency. I call it not giving a damn.
In my late teens, I quickly learned that the words “Don’t worry, my mom’s cool” usually resulted in behavior my own mom would be anything but cool with. I knew the chances of me ever sleeping over at a house like that, where nonexistent curfews and unlocked liquor cabinets lived, were about as likely as the cool mom joining the cool PTA.
My mom could sniff out a bad parent like a K-9 cop. She had their number. She wanted to talk to them on the phone, meet them in person, observe them in their natural habitat, give them inkblot tests, study their genealogy.
At least that’s what it felt like sometimes. What a drag, all that concern for my well-being. The only thing worse was her policy on boys coming to the house. If we wanted to hang out in my room, the door had to stay open and she had to check on us periodically. That prevented a lot of boys from coming to the house. It probably also prevented a teen pregnancy.
Is all this “friends are friends” and “mothers are mothers” stuff registering? If not let me paint a little picture for you. It’s called Lindsay and Dina Lohan. Friends forever.
That’s the kind of relationship I thought of, the more I looked at that silver medallion. I could almost hear my mom’s voice telling my teenage self that she’s not my friend, she’s my mother and I better not forget it. Hands on her hips, truth on her lips.
I used to hear girls say they could tell their moms anything. I could tell my mom anything, too. As long as it wouldn’t get me grounded. Even now that I’m a grown woman and really can tell her anything, I don’t. That’s what my friends are for. My mom is my mom. She’s still my personal compass. The difference now is that she waits for me to ask directions. That’s what I call cool.
I finally scrolled to a necklace I thought my mom could really appreciate. Sure, it meant cracking the piggy bank and emptying both pockets, but you gotta do what you gotta do. The sterling silver necklace with four peas in a pod dangling from it made a much better fit. A mom’s kids are the true reflection of her work, after all.
Mine raised four productive members of society, her four peas in a pod. She did so by being our mother, not our friend.
Contact columnist Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477.
Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.