Will I Scar My Kids For Life?

“Thanks Mom,” said my daughter as I handed her a pile of clean laundry.  “You’re welcome.” I turned around to fold the Fruit of the Looms but she continued. “Thanks for bringing me into this world, for clean laundry and for helping me through hard times.” And then she was gone.

I peered out around the corner of the laundry room.  No one.  I checked the liquor cabinet.  No, she hadn’t gotten in there.  I hadn’t heard anything crash or break recently.  Christmas wasn’t coming and her birthday had come and gone.

So my daughter was being genuine?  Huh.  Maybe I haven’t scarred her for life after all.  I worry about that; always have.  I mean, as a child, I made huge promises to myself that I’d never ever grow up and repeat the mistakes my parents made as they raised me.

Yet there are days I fear that the most vivid memory my children will have of me will be of my face, with my mouth wide open, eyes crossed and flames flying out of my ears.

I can see them plain as day laying on some therapist’s couch:  “I can still her now, Doctor.  She’d fly into these hissy fits…throwing stuff away, muttering stuff about dogs and sedatives and ingrates…She had classic lines like, “Oh no, don’t bother.  Don’t anyone lift a darn finger to help out.  I’ll do it, I always do. God forbid anyone else put the lid on the peanut butter and put it away.  Why should I expect any less?  What do I look like, your personal slave or something?”

The therapist’s couch, naturally, is highest-grade Italian leather.  Nicer than any piece of furniture I was ever able to provide for my children’s comfort.  For one thing, it’s clean. No lumps, dog hair, used dental floss under the cushions or drool and snot stains on the pillows.

They’ll shell out big bucks to lay on that clean couch – money they’ll be able to earn only because I, the mother who scarred them for life, spent my chocolate budget to buy them cool gym shoes and the latest “in” logo shirt so they’d be happier students in the top schools whose tuition I earned by scrubbing toilets.  They’ll share how their over bearing mother spent countless afternoons quizzing them for tests and dragging them to the 24-hour store for poster board for the school project assigned 6 weeks ago but due the next morning.

Yesterday, the kids and I were cruising along when a country song came on the radio.  The lyrics were something like, “We’re men.  We don’t care if you think that dress makes you look fat.  We just want to sit around, scratch, belch and watch TV.”

A teenage male voice quietly commented, “Now that’s not true.”  Huh, maybe they won’t be scarred for life after all. Then a female voice broke in, “Mawwwwwm I hate that song. Why won’t you let me listen to my iPod in the car?” Well, not too badly.

(© 2011 Karen Rinehart)

Karen Rinehart's columns appear Sundays in the Independent Tribune. Her website is KarenJRinehart.com.