Over the years my mom has become a lot more fun.
She's always been a great person, but as a mom whose kids are now all grown, married and starting to have grandkids of their own, she's considerably mellowed a lot. This thought crossed my mind a couple of days ago as she and I sat up after midnight watching a movie while eating stuff that in my earlier years she never would have let me consume in such abundance, especially at that time of night.
I was staying at her house for a couple of days while we worked on a family project together. The project took longer than we thought it would, probably because we hadn't factored in the breaks to watch her favorite soap opera, sit back and talk, linger over a simple sandwich lunch, or go for a ride all the way into town to pick up something we didn't absolutely have to have to finish the project but wanted to pick up anyway just because. So dinner happened when it did, sometime in the middle of the evening when our stomachs mutually said it was time to eat.
And then when the project was done, we didn't even bother to look at the clock. We just pulled out the manual to her DVD player, eventually figured out how to run it, and settled down to watch a movie. Midnight came and went before the movie did.
This was so different from earlier years when I was a kid. Back then, in my mom's house, projects had to be completed. She had a simple way of making sure the job got done -- we kids knew from experience there was no point in trying to get out of it. The quickest way to move on to do something we wanted to do was to just get the job at hand done. Cut out the horseplay, the whining, the wheedling and the "lolly-gagging" as she put it, and just get it done. If it was done and done right, then we moved on. And not until.
So this easy-going, casual version of mom is, umm, different. But I like it. A lot.
I'm still startled when I'm with her and she suggests we do something that's uncharacteristic of her previous mother habits. Like the pile of junk food we're methodically munching our way through while we watch this sappy love movie (also something she used to not do). There has to be a collective half-million calories here, most of them fat calories. She's settled into her recliner, and I'm rolled back on the couch. We're both dressed in stuff we pass off as jammies, and we just keep grazing. Probably because it all tastes so good, and probably because somewhere in the back of our minds, our mutual momma sirens are going off, and we cheerfully stifle them since there are no kids around to badly influence.
The movie ends and we chat, nothing deep. I finally ask the burning question: "Mom, do you realize that when I was a teenager, there's no way you would have let me stay up until midnight watching a movie and eating this much of this kind of stuff? What happened? I mean, do you realize how much you've changed?
She stares at me for a long moment while an amused smile plays across her face.
"You're asking if I realize how much I've changed? Do you realize how much you've changed? Ever since you got here you've been trying to help me with every little thing I do. It doesn't take two grown women to build two sandwiches for lunch, but you tried anyway. You've made your bed, cleaned up constantly after yourself, and have tried picking up after me. Good grief, you even wiped down the shower. You're a whole lot different than when you were a teenager."
Huh. She has me there. I mean, I do all that kind of stuff now because I'm a mom, on the other side of the "these are the things that should be done" list.
And then it all comes together, and makes us laugh when we realize it. My mom's changed because I've changed.
Too bad we didn't figure this out years ago.
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