I was a bad child. Terrible really. Quite possibly the worst.
I liked to hide. And I was good at it. Whether it was among the clothing racks at Gayfers or under a table at Morrison’s, I’d hide until people were frantic then pop out at them, gleeful.
I was stubborn. Even as a toddler, I refused to wear frilly, ruffly dresses. I preferred plain, tailored clothes like a nice sailor dress with a big starched collar and a little tie. And my pig-headedness didn’t just end in the closet.
I was sassy. Especially as a teenager. Lord, If I had a nickel for every time I heard “You’d better not talk back to me!” I’d be a gazillionaire.
I was naughty. When I was little bitty, after Granny and Sarah would give me a bath, I’d slip away and run off to jump up and down in the middle of the bed, nekkid, with both of them trying to catch me to get clothes on me. Yes, it took two grown women to get me dressed.
And I was prone to fits of temper. And not just a little hissy fit here or there. I mean real honest-to-God. lying-down-on-the-floor-kicking-and-screaming tantrums.
No amount of blonde hair and blue eyes could disguise the demon child that was me.
I don’t think Mama knew what she was getting into when she had me, and it’s probably a good thing. I mean it’s purely a miracle my little brother even exists after I came along. What in the world were my parents thinking? Probably that they just had to get a better child the second time around.
But here’s the thing — even though I was defiant, mischievous, ill-tempered, and ornery, my mama, by some great miracle of maternity, always loved me. Now she may not have liked me very much at times, but I never once doubted for a second that she loved me. Not once.
I could always put my head on her lap, and she’d stroke my hair. Every bedtime brought a goodnight kiss. Every skinned knee and hurt feeling was nursed well again. She read me stories and poems, we shopped for prom dresses and makeup, we took trips.
I finally managed to grow out of most of my wicked ways — at least the hiding and the jumping on the bed while nekkid. The hissy fits come less often, and I channel my sass into humor … most of the time. For the record, though, I still won’t wear frilly, ruffly dresses so I guess the stubbornness has hung on.
There must be something about motherhood that blinds you to anything but the best in your child. I remember Daddy telling me once when I was in my teens, after I’d been particularly hateful to Mama, that I should always be nice to her because she’d be the only person who’d love me when no one else would. And he was right.
That’s why today, on this Mother’s Day, this bad child celebrates her good Mama. She is now, and always has been, my staunchest advocate, my biggest fan, and my strongest support. And having survived raising me to adulthood, she’s probably the only person on this earth more hard-headed than me. And that’s saying something!
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! I love you!
(If you’d like to read more essays like this, get my book, They Call Me Orange Juice.Order your copy today!)