My mother and I are so different.
And so much alike.
I come from a long line of over thinkers. We’re good at it. My mother, Martha, is the current world champion. I hope to inherit that title after she shuffles off her mortal coil. 30 years from now. She’s nearly 83. I think she can make it.
Anyway, my mother lives in fear of inadvertently hurting someone’s feelings.
She called me a few days ago after having a conversation with my daughter in law, Lauren, on the phone.
Mom: Shell, I feel so bad. I know Lauren is on a trip right now, but I feel like I should call her.
Me: What happened?
Mom: Well, I texted her earlier about something and she responded. I accidentally called her and told her I didn’t mean to call her. We talked for a few minutes.
Mom: I told her I didn’t mean to call her. That sounds so mean and harsh.
Me: Didn’t you talk to her anyway? Was it a nice conversation?
Mom: Yeah. Still, I did say that didn’t mean to call her.
Me: I promise mom, Lauren understands butt dials. She wasn’t offended or hurt.
Mom: But I didn’t call her with my butt.
Me: It’s still okay. I swear.
She worried about that for hours before calling me. Hours. I called Randy and told him about the conversation, all the while feeling grateful that while I definitely had my issues, at least I didn’t worry over silly things like butt dials.
Next, the printer incident happened.
The next morning, a woman I worked with, we’ll call her Karen Caruso, walked into my room and said the big printer wasn’t working. She asked if I could fix it.
I’m a programmer. I don’t handle hardware issues. I didn’t even look up. I said “You’ll have to ask (fill in network dude’s name) when he gets in. I don’t fix hardware.”
Then, someone who isn’t in IT heard the conversation, walked out into the hallway, turned the printer off and back on, fixing the printer. Which really, is the only way to fix a printer.
Circular thoughts started. “Really? You couldn’t have even looked up? How rude. You fucking know turning it off and back on would clear it up. Could you have at least tried to be helpful? Perhaps said good morning?”
I work in a very small office. It’s not easy to avoid people, but I found myself avoiding Karen Caruso. I felt my shame of being unhelpful and standoffish.
Toward the end of the day, I walked into the break room.
There was only one other person in the room. Karen Caruso. Of course.
Me: Hey…so, I wanted to apologize to you.
KC: What? For what?
Me: You asked for my help with the printer this morning and I completely blew you off.
KC: Really? I didn’t think twice about that. I mean, I should have known to turn it off and on again.
Me, fighting off the urge to agree: Okay, well, I was just worried that I seemed kind of mean this morning.
KC: You remind me of my mother.
Me: For all that is holy.
Like mother, like daughter.
I guess if I’m going to be like someone, I’ll be like Martha. Seriously, we should all be like Martha. Martha is incredible. And funny. She gave me my biggest laugh on Christmas eve.
My mother is a huge Bengals fan and if you watch football, then you’ll know that the Bengals have had a good year. I only know this because I live in Cincinnati and I can’t help but know it, but I don’t really care.
Cincinnati got blasted by winter pretty hard so our Christmas eve plans with family dwindled from 13 people down to 8.
Randy wasn’t feeling great, so he decided to stay home as well. I called my sister and asked if we could start at 4:00 instead of 5:00. The roads were shit and I didn’t want to be out too late. She was agreeable and called my mother to let her know to come an hour early.
Mom called me a few minutes after she talked to my sister.
Mom: Okay, so we are meeting at your sister’s at 4:00 sharp.
Me: Cool, I don’t want to be out too late.
Mom: I mean, I’m going to miss the end of the Bengals game now.
Me: Oh, bummer.
Mom: It’s kind of a big deal.
Me: Well, I am glad you put the safety of your daughter and grandson over your sporting event.
Mom: I guess we can call this an extra Christmas present for you.
Me: You’re sorry you had kids right now, aren’t you?
Mom: A little.
Of course, while we were together, she told me a billion times that she was only kidding and that she loved me.
I know mom, I know.
I hope you all had a lovely holiday and that you laughed at least a little.