“I Did Not Stand Up for my Mother”
|Image: All Rights Reserved|
|New York : Hyperion|
Still, I can say I adored my mother, in the way that boys adore their mothers while taking them for granted. She made that easy. For one thing, she was funny. She didn’t mind smearing ice cream on her face for a laugh. She did odd voices, like Popeye the Sailor Man, or Louis Armstrong croaking, “If ya ain’t got it in ya, ya can’t blow it out.” She tickled me and she let me tickle her back, squeezing her elbows in as she laughed. She tucked me in every night, rubbing my hair and saying, “Give your mother a kiss.” She told me I was smart and that being smart was a privilege, and she insisted that I read one book every week, and took me to the library to make sure this happened. She dressed too flashy sometimes, and she sang along with our music, which bothered me. But there was never, for a moment, a question of trust between us.
If my mother said it, I believed it.
She wasn’t easy on me, don’t get me wrong. She smacked me. She scolded me. She punished me. But she loved me. She really did. She loved me falling off a swing set. She loved me stepping on her floors with muddy shoes. She loved me through vomit and snot and bloody knees. She loved me coming and going, at my worst and at my best. She had a bottomless well of love for me.
Her only flaw was that she didn’t make me work for it.
You see, here’s my theory: Kids chase the love that eludes them, and for me, that was my father’s love. He kept it tucked away, like papers in a briefcase. And I kept trying to get in there.
Years later, after her death, I made lists of Times My Mother Stood Up for Me and Times I Did Not Stand Up for My Mother. It was sad, the imbalance of it all. Why do kids assume so much from one parent and hold the other to a lower, looser standard?
Maybe it’s like my old man said: You can be a mama’s boy or a daddy’s boy, but can’t be both. So you cling to the one you think you might lose.
Extract from the book For one more day
By Mitch Albom
All Rights Reserved.
New York : Hyperion, c2006
Call No.: English ALB
Extract contributed by Ng Cheng Soon
Available at NLB
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If you have to choose between your mother and father whom would you choose? Why?