Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mama, Would You Be Mad?

"Galaxy" Nails

“Would you be mad if I became a nail artist?”

This is her stock question when she is feeling overwhelmed. She asks me this while poking delicately at her plate with a nail painted to resemble peacock feathers in turquoise and blue and gold.  Somehow it doesn’t look tacky on her long, tapered, hand-model fingers.

I suppress the urge to tell her to get her hands away from her food.  I’ve told her this too many times as it is in her life. I just want to enjoy the day.

We are sitting at an outdoor table at the Hard Rock Café in Union Station on an absolutely exquisite day.  Mother’s Day.  Below the terrace where we are sitting, koi and ducks drift lazily through the pond. 

“Do you want to become a nail artist?” I ask.  As her mother, this is my stock response.  We both know I’ve never pushed her. That I’ve never had to. She was born a fierce spirit who’s gone after her goals with awe-inspiring determination since she was a baby. When she learned to walk, it was by launching herself repeatedly forward until she was covered in bruises. She’d pick herself up, too focused to cry, and catapult herself forward all over again.

In those days, I used to read to her from a book we both loved called Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse (illustrated by Barbara Lavallee). As she got older, she would occasionally ask me: Would I love her if she joined the circus? Decided to become a palm reader? A sheep herder?

Yes, I tell her. Of course. I love you for who you are, I tell her, and not what you become. You’ve always made me proud by just being you, I tell her. I don’t love you for being what society calls successful. I just want you to be happy. Would you be happy painting nails all day? Toes too?

She sighs.

And then I hug her, this tall, lovely girl, and watch her go back to school with the same look on her face she had when she learned to walk.


I’ll love you until
the umiak flies
into the darkness,
till the stars turn
to fish in the sky,
till the puffin howls
at the moon.

~from Mama, Do You Love Me? By Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee


20 comments:

  1. Tammy--What a sweet post. (Is that a picture of YOUR nails? Nice polish!)

    This is a rough time for kids. College is hard, their choices are confusing, they're not sure which is the right path to take...

    I'm sure your daughter will make a wonderful whatever---whatever she chooses to do--and continue to have a great Mother's Day weekend.

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  2. Thanks, Sioux. Nope, those are her nails - I just didn't have a picture of the peacock ones on hand. (Get it? On hand? Sorry.) The funny thing is, she knows exactly what path she wants to take. She just dreams of nail art from time to time because it's tough. She's studying to be a dentist. Happy Mother's Day to you!

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  3. Oh what a sweet post. Why not be a dentist with cool nails? She launched herself forward...I love it.

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    1. The nails will be hidden beneath rubber gloves, but I've thought the same thing. Why not? Thanks for stopping by, Linda!

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  4. What a perfect post to read on Mother's Day! It sums up a mother's love perfectly.

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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  5. I commend you for loving her even if she becomes a dentist. That is truly unconditional love. I have a phobia when it comes to dentists.

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    1. Me too. I'm hoping this will help cure me. Don't tell her, but I'm also hoping she'll someday do my dental work. It'll be so much easier to yell at her if she pokes me with tiny instruments of torture.

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  6. Such a sweet post Tammy. Of course she can be both - and if she decides one day to become a mother she'll know what it is to have many, many job titles ; )

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  7. Beautiful post. Hope you had a lovely day! You're such a sweet momma.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn! Same goes for you.

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  8. Tammy, I just heard about...and read your winning story in the Readers Digest 100 Word Contest! My sincere and very excited for you congratulations!! That is wonderful! And I remember your story about the black pearls....Amazing. Remember when I always said what a deep writer you were? I don't remember my exact words....but I think I said something like "still waters run deep"....which of course is NOT a phrase I coined! Congrats, again. I'm truly thrilled for you!

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  9. Love this. You're such a gifted writer that you always draw me right in, and this lovely post was no exception. And I've never heard of that book, but if I ever have a grand-baby it's one I'll rush to buy. Great post.

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    1. That means a lot to me, Lisa - thank you!

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  10. Another beautiful post, Tammy. I can just picture the conversation, you've made it so vivid. I agree with Sioux, this is such a tough time. They are on the very cusp of adulthood, but it's so frightening. She is tough-minded and gentle of heart, just like her mom. She will be wonderful at whatever she does. I've not heard of MAMA, DO YOU LOVE ME?, but it sounds like something I need to buy. I bought a book for my grandbaby recently titled I LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE. Same theme!

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  11. I love the title, "I Love you, Stinky Face!" Will have to look for that one. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind comments, Teri!

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  12. I was thinking of you today, Tammy. Thought I would check into your blog... way toooooo long! You are such a fabulous Mom to those beautiful young adults! You've done an amazing job raising them and have had to sacrifice so much to get them on their way! A 24/7 job! How proud you must be of them! Those experiences are something money can't buy! Can hardly believe your baby is a Senior now! Big hugs to you! xo

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  13. Thanks so much, Holly! I do know I couldn't have done it without those I've hung onto through the years who are genuinely loving and supportive people. Big hugs back to you and your lovely children!

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