Monday, January 30, 2012

What's Eating Kim MacCarron?

My only real regret is letting embarrassment about family situations rule my teen years.  Granted, those are the years to suffer silently or roll your eyes when someone in your family embarrasses you, but I still regret letting the little things become so darn big.
My mom was always a bit…um…different than the other moms.  She marched to the beat of a different drummer.  Hell, she was in whole separate parade!  I appreciate that more now as an adult, but I didn’t so much when I was a teenager.
One time during our annual vacation to a lodge in Ontario, Canada, I was playing tennis with other girls my age and a few of the moms when all of a sudden one girl said, “Who is THAT?”  I turned around and saw this woman stomping up through the beautifully manicured grounds with a huge tackle box clutched in her hand, fishing lures hanging off her battered hat and her face beet-red from spending the whole day in the sun.    Classic Marsha.  My mom.
My heart slid to my toes, my pulse raced ten times faster, and, in answer to this girl’s question—a girl I never saw again after that two-week vacation—I…shrugged and looked away.  Yes.   I pretended that I didn’t know my own mother.  I was mortified as only a teenage girl could be.  But, no, it gets worse.  My mom veered off course and headed our way, and I wished with every fiber of my being that she wouldn’t see me.  She came right over to the fence separating us and told me to head back to our cottage and get ready for dinner.  I numbly nodded my head, aware of the horrified looks of those girls and their mothers. 
I always assumed the looks were directed at my mother and her get-up.  Did I forget to mention the scruffy cut-off jean shorts and the dirty tennis shoes, with laces completely dragging behind the shoes?  Well, add those details in.  But, looking back to that day as an adult, I often wonder if they were more horrified that I would pretend to not know my own mother.  What kind of girl DOES that?
I wish I could have a do-over for that day.  When that girl whose name I can’t even recall asked her question, I wish I would have turned around and smiled and waved happily to my mom.  I wish I had said, “Oh, that’s my mom!  She loves to fish!  As a matter of fact, last summer here at the lodge she caught the biggest fish of the entire season!” 
Because when it really comes down to it, my mom deserved a better daughter than the one she had that day.  And, heck, I’ll admit it, many other days as well.  She has always stood beside me, proud to be my mom.  And I slunk away one too many times.  I don’t do that anymore, but I regret the times that I did.
Family embarrassment is a big part of practically any teen’s life.  We’re embarrassed if our dad is fat or thin, a drinker or one who wears his pants two inches too short.  We’re embarrassed if our mom is fat or messy or geeky looking or one who tries to act and dress like our friends.  Everything is an embarrassment at that tender age.
Remember What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?  How the family had to deal with embarrassing situations like an obese mom and a mentally-challenged younger brother?  Or Andie in Pretty in Pink when she doesn’t want Blane to see where she lives?  Or poor little Daniel LaRusso in the original Karate Kid when he has to help push his mom’s car past his girlfriend’s mansion, with her disapproving parents looking on. 
We all suffer embarrassments.  It’s part of growing up.  But, I wish so much that I wouldn’t have let it affect me as much as I did.  When it comes right down to it, our friends will come and go.  Our boyfriends or girlfriends will do the same.  But our family stays with us forever, for better or worse, for richer or poorer.  Those are the ones who truly stick with us. 
After I let go of my embarrassment about my mom, I realized that my friends all adored her.  Sometimes they would call the house to talk to my mom because they couldn’t talk to their own moms.   My mom never judges people.  She keeps an open mind.  She accepts—even embraces—the differences that divide most people. 
She was the person I confided in for my whole entire life.  She was the first person I called in my college dorm hallway when I lost my virginity.  I don’t have a secret that my mom doesn’t know.  And I love that!  I hope that my kids will feel the same way about me.  I’ll probably embarrass the hell out of them through the years.  But, as long as they feel that open communication, I’m fine with having them slink away when their friends are on the scene.
So, tell me.  Let it out.  When did someone in your family do something that embarrassed you to the extreme?  


Melissa Landers said...

You're so right--everything is an embarrassment at that age. My mom was damned near flawless: young and beautiful, poised, intelligent, and dedicated to her family, but I still found reasons to feel squirrely when we were in public together.

Kimberly said...

Oh, I had friends who had moms like that. When they were rolling their eyes and crouching down so that nobody would see them, I thought to myself, "This is ALL you have? Really?!?! THIS embarrasses you?!?!". LOL.
But I guess it really is normal for the age. I plan to embarrass the heck out of my kids. I can't wait! :-)

Lorie Langdon said...

I feel ya, Kim! My mom’s loud and tends to talk over me and everyone else. When I was a teen and she’d come up to me and a group of my friends, I’d slink away to hide. More times than not, I’d come back around and my friends would still be talking to her. I thought they were trapped or just being polite, but looking back, I realize that EVERYONE likes my Mom. She’s just one of those people. Took me awhile to find myself outside of her shadow, but once I realized she just wanted to be part of my life, I didn’t have a problem sitting back and letting her chat up my friends. :)
Fantastic post!

Kimberly said...

I'm sure your mom never wanted you to be in her shadow, and isn't it wonderful when we cone to appreciate the things that used to drive us nuts? :-)
We're both so lucky to have had moms who wanted to be in the picture. Who wanted to know our friends and their lives. My mom knew all of my friends' boyfriends. She knew all the dramas. The heartbreaks. She was there for all of us. Even as an adult, I'm still sometimes surprised when my "new friends" tell me how cool my mom is. :-)
Thanks for your comments, Lorie. I'm glad someone was able to identify. I was scared there for a few minutes. LOL

Kerri Carpenter said...

Love this post! Kim, you totally have to embarrass your kids!!! I mean, isn't that part of your job as a mom? If you had a super boring, completely perfect mom, why would you WANT to confide in her later? Snoozefest!

Kimberly said...

I agree completely, Kerri! All kids should have fun or even funny moms. :-)
It is our job to embarrass our kids. One time I stood up on the cafeteria seat and danced in front of my fifth grader because she and her friends were making fun of my dance moves. They still talk about it. But, dang it all, they thought it was the coolest thing! I'll have to try harder next time! LOL

CareyCorp said...

Great post Kim! My mom gave me lots of cringeworthy material back in highschool.Pushing her blue Pinto with the racing stripe over a speedbump it couldn't master on its own leaps to mind. She got some things horribly wrong but I never gave her credit for the things she got right. And I turned out okay in the end, thanks to her.

Jennifer McAndrews said...

Kim, what a wonderful, emotional post. I read through that and felt your pain at the same time I wanted to hug your mom. (and because my brain works this way, wanted to know if y'all got eat the fresh-caught fish and was it tasty *s*)
I wonder if being embarrassed by our parents is a normal, necessary step in life? Could it be that it's part of our progress toward independence? And I'm sure part of the effect has to do with being at a time in your life when you're working hard to find your own identity - and then so clearly seeing what you don't want to be (your own mom! I still don't want to be my mother!).
Right. Not looking for answers here, just sharing some of the thoughts your excellent post brought to mine. Hugs to you and your mom -- she sounds like a great role model, actually : )

Kimberly said...

The blue pinto visual cracked me up! My very first boyfriend had a blue pinto.....oh those days. *big happy sigh*
My mom's car was a whole other area of embarrassment. Crap falling out when the door opened. And now my poor minivan looks about the same. *big unhappy sigh* :-)

Kimberly said...

First of all...yes we ate the fish. My mom gutted them and took them to the lodge chef, and then he cooked them for us. Bass and Walleye were my favorites. They really were tasty.
Yes, I believe being embarrassed is necessary. It shows us how to deal with things you deem impossible at the time. However, I really wish my mom hadn't given me so darn much material....LOL.
I believe I've learned a lot about being a good mom. I learned to make sure my kids can always talk to me about ANYTHING. The open communication is so important. However, I do try to make sure I don't stand out in bad ways. I make sure to brush my hair before going into the school. LOL