We look sweet, but my mom and I have had our scrapes.
There was the one traumatic afternoon when I was 8 or 9 years old, and she drove me to Old Orchard mall and dropped me off in the courtyard with boxes full of chocolate bars I was supposed to sell for a community softball fundraiser. Suffering from crippling peddle-o-phobia as I did (still do), I had instead left them sitting in the middle of the living room floor for months, not-so-secretly hoping they would eventually get eaten and *poof* become someone else’s financial (and probably digestive) problem.
My mother wasn’t sympathetic to my plight, nor hip to my plan. On the day before the money was due, she threw her terrified firstborn child into the abyss of the local shopping center, a hellscape of upscale storefronts teeming with well-heeled strangers. Her instructions: basically, don’t come home without a wad of cash.
It’s hard to do this with a straight face, sit here and try to paint my mom as some kind of pimp. I can’t even imagine what I would do, as a parent, if my child marched in the door every day toting half a candy store or catalog full of useless tchotchkes for every activity she was involved in, and expected me to pay for it all. Be responsible, kid! Show some initiative! I hope you don’t plan on checking “journalism” on your college application if you can’t even ask someone, “Would you like to buy a box of Thin Mints?” 😂
My mom was the reason I got involved in anything to begin with, from sports to music to church youth group, because otherwise I’d have been perfectly happy hiding in my room writing stories and making mix tapes (*looks around at current life* 🤔). To her credit, once she provided that initial push to get out of my own way and get started, she let me run with whatever I wanted to do. She didn’t grab me, shake me and say “Journalism?!? You don’t like to talk to people!” or give me a hard time when I decided to up and move to Georgia for my first sports writing job 20 years ago, almost to the day. She let me live my life, and make my own mistakes, remaining a solid, supportive foundation I could stand on when things felt shaky — and a soft place to land when I fell.
How fitting that I fell into her arms the day I finally decided to stop drinking.
Continue reading “Foundation”