Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Under Toad

I swore up and down I would never become an Under Toad mother. Hah! Don't we all swear at some point in our lives that we will not become our mothers? And then, say, twenty years later, we are moving up the escalator, and our daughters make the same pledges, because we broke ours?

Maybe this is not how it happens in your family. But I have to admit that, in some ways, I practically channel my mom.

Peaches startles easily, fears dogs, cats, noises, and strangers. I try to toughen her up when I can, encouraging her to bravely pat the puppy, help me vaccuum. I do this because I want her to feel confident, to explore the world. But sometimes lately I'm just tired, and my loftiest imagineable goal is getting through the day. I want Peaches to HURRY UP. I want the kids to make it from the driveway to the front door in less time than it takes to fly to the East Coast. And so today when my frustrating dawdlers seemed inclined to inspect every blade of grass in our front yard, I opened my mouth and out popped Mom. "Oh, Peaches, you better get inside, did you see that big mean doggy?" (Read: Lassie.)

I felt even worse than when I got Rooster to brush his teeth by cautioning him that otherwise they would turn black and fall out.

When I was a kid, my mother didn't want me to drown, or even, truth be told, swim. I had ear tubes and six hundred fifty ear infections, and she wanted me to stay healthy, because even your average cold tended to escalate for me and next thing you knew I would end up in an ambulance or something.

So my mother told me that if I ventured into the water without her, the Under Toad would suck me under. And. I. Would. Never be heard from AGAIN. Okay, maybe she said undertow, and I heard Toad. But what I heard loud and clear? DANGER, DANGER, DANGER -- listen to your mother or ELSE!

We lived inland -- five hours to the ocean, I guess. When my mother told me to stay out of the water, she meant any water, as large as lakes and as small as bath tubs. And it worked. I do not know how to swim. And I swore up and down...

And so will my kids. Shame on me.

1 comment:

redheadmomma said...

Please know that you are certainly not alone in that our mother's voices pop out of us when we least expect it. And THAT is to be totally expected because those tools of parenting were what we were exposed to for the first couple decades of our life. The trick is replacing those behaviors with responses and strategies that resonate better with you. I work on that just as much as the next person - sometimes I do great, sometimes I don't. When that happens again, just observe, skip that whole judging yourself, and think of a good replacement for next time. You a GREAT mom, don't let your doubts tell you otherwise. XO R