Hi, Mom (don’t kill me)

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Friars Hill Traffic Report – April 22nd, 2017

I received the following note this week:

“I am so happy you have decided to return writing your commentary. I have missed your ‘take’ on events. Your column is ‘one’ of the reasons I subscribe to the Mountain Messenger.
I appreciate your sense of humor. At times, you are so right on and even though, at times, I don’t agree, I am willing to hear your side of the subject. I just love the way you write,
Sarah Mansheim. Please continue. Well done! So great to see you in print again!”

I was feeling pretty good about it until I realized it came from my mother.
And then I looked at it again: “…and even though, at times, I don’t agree…”
“…and even though, at times, I don’t agree…”
“…and even though, at times, I don’t agree…”

Sigh. Moms. We’re the worst.

Last weekend my older daughter got herself all dressed up for Easter dinner, looking just absolutely gorgeous in a little two-piece outfi t, her hair fi xed and makeup on.
“You look beautiful!” I exclaimed. (Here’s where the younger daughter fl ashed me a scowl and I had to remind her that beauty is not a zero-sum game, and her older sister’s
beauty did not diminish hers, and yes, honey, you are beautiful, too.)

Later, the daughters were taking selfi es and posing for pictures for me to take, and the older one complained, “I just can’t take a good picture today.” “Maybe it’s because that shade of lipstick doesn’t really suit you,” I said.

*record scratch

“Mom,” she said, “When a girl says she doesn’t feel beautiful, you are supposed to tell her she looks beautiful.”
“Honey you are beautiful,” I said, desperately wishing I could take back what I’d just said. But it was too late; I couldn’t seem to stop talking.
“It’s just that color isn’t great on you.” She doubled down: “I’m not even wearing lipstick, Mom. This is just what I look like. Basically you’re saying I’m ugly.”
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING SOMEONE MAKE IT STOP OH GOD! I silently screamed. I realized I had Mommed her with the old one-two, compliment-criticism punch. Now I had to defend myself.
“Oh baloney,” I said. “I can see your lipstick so don’t even try to trap me in this mess.”
She disappeared into the bathroom, and then came out five minutes later, her lips raw from scrubbing (she looked so much better!).
At dinner, she announced, “Did you guys know Mom ruined Easter?”
She supposedly was talking about how that morning I’d screwed up the Easter Bunny business by telling my younger daughter that I had the receipt for the soccer cleats in her
Easter basket in case they were too big. And that my younger daughter had stared deep into my dark, dark soul, and demanded, ‘ARE YOU THE EASTER BUNNY?’ And I had said, “Uh uh uh, well, kind of?”
But it was more than that! My older daughter was shaming me for daring to tell her that her lip color was off. And she was going to tell my whole family: my mom, my mother-inlaw,
my sister-in-law, my father-in-law; she was going to tell them, “Mom ruined Easter because she can’t keep a secret about the Easter Bunny, and she said I was ugly!”

I was furious and embarrassed. “I’m going to go outside for a minute,” I said. “No one eat that last crescent roll! (priorities)”

I sat down on the porch steps and took some deep breaths as I looked out over the field across from the house, and I wondered, why can’t we moms just leave well enough alone?
And I don’t know the answer!
Maybe we think that since we taught our children how to use a spoon, we can tell them their cosmetic colors are wrong, or that some of their humor columns may be just a little too outrageous.
Such is the plight of the older woman: we have age and experience on our side, and we want to impart our wisdom onto our daughters, who, in turn, simply do not want to hear it. It’s like spilling the (jelly) beans about the Easter Bunny – these things we moms tell our daughters, and the things our mothers tell us, may very well be true, but that doesn’t mean we want to hear about them.

So here’s my do-over:

“I don’t know why those pictures aren’t coming out! There must be something wrong with the light today.”

“I love ALL your columns in the newspaper. You are absolutely right about every single topic you ever write about.”

And, finally, “Of course I’m not the Easter Bunny! The Easter Bunny is real: his name is Harvey.”

There. Fixed.
For now.