Several years ago, my dad gave me a photo album. It was in a box of stuff he had kept for a million years and he wondered if I might want it. In it, he had saved a bunch of stuff from high school, including some cards from my mom. There are school photos and all kinds of lovey snaps of my parents and pictures of my dad playing football. Contained within those pages, are photographs of a trip to California that I have surmised that I was potentially conceived upon. Let’s just skip that part, shall we?
This album is fascinating to me for two reasons. One, when I was growing up, after their divorce, my parents pretty much hated each other. Now, they would never come right out and say that they hated each other, but I'm going out on a limb here and saying they didn't like each other very much. Two, I get to peek into the love-sick teenaged mind of my mother, right there in her own handwriting. It is without a doubt one of the best gifts my dad ever gave me.
Last year, I was telling my aunt about this album because she was also on the California trip. I have the bikini clad and blonde boyfriend pictures to prove it, but I’ll let her maintain her motherly image. As often happens when I’m around my family, we start talking and inevitably the stories start happening and we all laugh and carry on for hours.
I never tire of it.
If you ever have the occasion to sit in a room with my mom and her sisters as they talk about growing up, grab yourself a large glass of wine and do it. There was lots of subterfuge, under-age driving, rock concerts, and craziness that my Meme is happy to have been kept in the dark about. My poor grandpa had five daughters and only one bathroom before my Meme went through ‘the change’ at age 42… that change turned out to be my Uncle Jimmy. Because I’m in my thirties, there are very few stories that I haven’t heard them tell at least once. Some, countless times from different perspectives, and I definitely have my favorites.
I’m also old enough to remember my aunts as their younger selves. My cousin, who is sixteen, was just flabbergasted that her mom, my aunt, was fun in her twenties. She was in shock that she had a life before her, filled with fun and boyfriends and travel and an executive level career.
She didn’t even drive a mini van.
It was about then that I realized that Finn is never going to believe there were ever any boys that adored his mother before his father. Tate will never believe her mother did stupid things and got into trouble. Those crazy, fun-Michelle stories they hear my sisters or my best friends howling with laughter about, they won't believe a word.
Because from the beginning of time, I was their mother.
And to my sweet P, doing teenaged things, figuring out which college will be lucky enough to have you, falling for boys, doing things you won’t share with your mom until you’re grown, laughing with friends, and conspiring with your sister… Some day in the future, you will fight back laughter as your children don't believe you ever had a life before them either.