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The Face in the Mirror


February 6, 2011 by wcobserver

By Alison Grisham

When I was an adolescent, it drove me crazy that my mom always seemed to do ten errands when she promised we were just running to the bank.  I hated waiting in the car while she went into the store for “just one thing” that could never seem to be carried in less than 3 bags.  And the worst… if I had to be stuck in a car while Christopher Cross whined about being “stuck between the moon and New York City”… well, I certainly shouldn’t have to tolerate my mom doing back up vocals to boot.

Later, when I was a teenager, I was completely disgusted by my mother’s morning routine… and being a teenager, I never missed an opportunity to tell her how she could do it better.

“Did you seriously just get dressed without taking a shower?” I’d marvel.  “Are you even planning to wash your hair?”  Ahh… nothing like the derision of a teenager to make a mom feel all… warm and suicidal.

“Well I just washed it yesterday.”

“Yeah.  Most people wash their hair every day mom.  You may not be aware of this…  but it’s more like brushing your teeth, than say… vacuuming.”

She would ignore me, other than to say,  “Get in the car.”

In my 20’s I visited during a break from college and watched her pour coffee out of the same pot for three days straight.  I don’t mean she used the same pot to make more coffee.  I mean, she made a pot on Monday and was still drinking the same coffee from it on Wednesday.  She just heated it up in the microwave with whatever bacteria had been floating on the top layer of liquid for the previous 72 hours.

“What are you doing?”  I think I used roughly the same tone a person might use if they saw their parent eating a human finger.  “Since when don’t you make a pot of coffee every morning?”  Naturally I was concerned about her mental health? “Mom, you know that the Depression is over, right?  You haven’t been trading coffee for sugar rations again, have you?”

She might give me an eye roll for that kind of sarcasm.  But most of the time, she’d just say, “It’s perfectly good… no one’s forcing you to drink it.”

I don’t know what happens as we age.  But we start to do things that we swear we’ll never do as long as we live… and it’s unnerving.  In my kids’ short, little lives, they’ve logged more hours waiting, than they have sleeping.  I sing with the radio.  I talk to strangers in stores.  I tell stories about my kids to strangers in stores.  Let’s face it.  I tell stories about my kids in a newspaper.

They’re probably keeping fake diaries just in case I first read them… then have them published.

But it’s gotten worse.  This morning I rolled out of bed, threw on a pair of jeans that I’ve been wearing for 3 days, brushed my teeth and went to work.  Yep… I went un-showered and with unwashed hair.  And the best part was that I was drinking a cup of yesterday’s reheated coffee.

I’m not sure if I owe a bigger apology to my mother or my children.  All I know for sure, is there is a stranger looking back at me from the mirror now and if she starts carrying a used tissue in her sweater sleeve I’m in real trouble.



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