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The Green Couch and Mom’s Tears

May 10, 2011
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I wanted to write something for my mom for Mother’s Day.  I wanted to reflect on my favorite moments with her – times we’ve laughed, times we’ve cried, and all the wisdom she has given me.  But here is the thing with mothers – there is just too much to say.  How do I possibly look back on all the memories with my mom?  How can I capture my gratitude for an entire lifetime of being molded and loved?  The answer to this rhetorical question, dear reader, is that I can’t.  My mom has just been too good at her job.

I can, however, remember two very specific moments with my mom.  I only remember small pieces of these memories, but perhaps those are the most significant anyway.  I don’t remember the whole context surrounding each event, but the feeling of these two moments with her are forever fresh in my mind.

Moment 1:

Scene:  The Ugly Green Couch     Age: Upper Elementary School

We are sitting on the ugly green couch in the living room.  It is bright green, practically lime, and is bolstered by two wooden arm rests at each end.  It is made up of two massive cushions that round at the edges, and my skinny little feet barely touch the floor.  Contrary to being the ugliest couch in the world, it is quite possibly the most comfortable, and has been a staple in our living room for as long as I’ve been alive.  The living room has been turned into a glorified playroom over the years. My dolls are currently scattered around, mixed up in the remnants of an afternoon playing “teacher” and “hospital” with my sister.  My mom and I are sitting together on the couch and facing the screen door that leads out to our front porch.

“Honey, do you see that door?”  my mom asks.

“Yes,” I reply and stare at the door, wondering where this conversation is going.  I start fiddling with the cloth of a baby doll’s clothes, but my mom grabs my hand to be sure I’m listening.

“I want you to know that no matter what happens, or no matter what you do, you can always walk through that door.”  She holds my gaze and points to the screen.  I follow her finger and try to imagine a time when I will need to remember this conversation.  What would I need to know this for?  I stare through the door, out into the darkness of our suburban street, and picture someone scared and alone who would need a home to walk into.  I squint my eyes to try and see that type of girl.  I picture someone lost, someone who isn’t me just yet, but oddly there is a familiarity with this girl in my imagination.  There is a knowing of her, and somehow I think my mom knows this lost, imaginary girl too.  It is almost like she knows she will show up one day.  Why else would she have said that?

Moment 2:

Scene: Outside my High School        Age: Sophomore in High School

The last of the crowds have left after opening night.   I am so high from the energy of my performance, my first lead performance in a major production, that I may as well have been gliding in socks across the tiled floor of my school.  I am practically giddy with post-production excitement.

I am going out with my cast mates to get some dinner, but first I walk outside to kiss my mom goodbye.  She waited until everyone had gone to give me a hug, and I am touched that she wanted to soak up my big night just as much as I did.  We get outside the doors of my high school and she stops and turns around.  She is crying.  There is a small puddle of tears in the crevices of her eyes, and just as we make eye contact the stream spills over.

She starts telling me how proud she is.  I see her mouth moving, but can’t pay attention to the words.  I am fixated on her tears.  They are tears of profound support, of a lifetime of toil trying to get me to believe in myself.  I see her talking, but all I see are the tears and all I hear are the words in those cheesy cards she used to give me about “having so much to offer” and “being irreplaceable.”   I hear the sound of them grazing the wastebasket when I chose not to believe what she wrote in them. Right now,  I see her body in front of me, but all I can picture is the day she sat next to me on my bed and hugged me while I cried about not being good at sports.  I didn’t want to be different from my siblings – I wanted to be recognized too.  She hugged me so tight that evening, and standing here with her now – that is all I can picture.

I brush a tear off her cheek.  I hug her and tell her I love her, but mostly I am speechless.  I see this onslaught of emotion from my mom, and somehow her years of positive strokes start coming together for me.  I watch her crying over my play, and it makes me proud of myself.  For the first time that I can remember, I am actually proud of myself.  For the first time, she is not the only one carrying that load.  After all these years and all our conversations, I am able to view myself through her eyes.  Eyes of tear-filled pride.  Eyes of confidence.  Eyes that know who I am and what I have to offer.  I will always remember when she cried that night.  I will always remember when her joy became my own.


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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2011 8:25 pm

    Lauren – how beautiful. I am glad I stumbled across it tonight. I needed to be reminded of how our moms are at what they do. Thank you. And your writing? Lovely. (As usual!)

  2. mom permalink
    May 10, 2011 8:46 pm

    fyi honey, I am just as proud of you each and every day since. You make my heart happy…

  3. Jaena Barker permalink
    May 10, 2011 10:35 pm

    fyi Lauren and Franny, you both KILL me. In a good way. Can I be a Kemp, too?

  4. Maggie permalink
    May 27, 2011 4:21 pm

    Lauren, you write so beautifully! I love reading your entries, and this one brought tears to my eyes! Keep up the excellent blogging 🙂

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