My mother’s love was big. Rita was the parent waving wildly from the audience with a toothy smile. In high school I messed up my solo in Oklahoma when I saw her arms fanning above her head. Other parents sat patiently, palms in their laps, and looked at the stage with neutral expressions. Rita couldn’t help herself. She was all-in when it came to expressing love and polishing my pedestal.
My mother thought everything I did was brilliant, but it wasn’t. In nearly every sport, I was the girl who prayed the ball went to someone else. Despite those private singing lessons and dance classes of every sort, I was an average performer. The two things I did with relative ease were deliver good grades and behave. In these endeavors her praise, while still excessive, was not the result of delusions.
My mom actually believed I was going to be the first female president. She really did.
Despite her wild dreams and embarrassing behavior, my mother imprinted me. I continue her over-the-top tradition with my children Matt and Emma. I apply heavy coats of praise to everything they do and smile from the audience just like my mom did. Like my mom, I’ve also spent a pile of dough framing their artwork.
Rita and I did everything together. Our little team of two went to the movies, restaurants, the supermarket, and clothes shopping. We sun bathed on the roof of our apartment building on Saturdays. She was so much fun, never hesitating to break rules or challenge conventional norms. I look for every opportunity, and I mean every, to do things with Matt and Emma. I’ll never be as fun as my mom because I’m not as daring, but I do my best within the confines of the law.
We love our children in ways that are almost unimaginable. And I believe that all our wayward expressions don’t matter that much. The essence of what we do seeps in. This bountiful love that skips and trips and rushes from our hearts inoculates our children and keeps them whole.