Childhood Lost- Narrative Essay for Comp I. 9-27-99
Sometimes when I listen to myself speak, it is not my voice I hear, but my mother’s. I love Mom, but the last thing I want is to be like her. As much as I hate to admit it, if I had known her as she was in high school, I doubt I would have liked her. The truth is, Mom has never understood anything that really matters to me. A parent who was popular and outgoing as a teenager rarely understands a child who is neither.
My mother was beautiful; although that word is overused, it is the only one that comes to mind to describe her. As a teenager, she had shiny blond hair, flawless skin, and pale blue eyes. She was a cheerleader, a member of the Honor Society, a yearbook photographer, and had the perfect boyfriend. Mom’s boyfriend, my father, was the handsome rebel in his class, a year ahead of hers. He had unruly sand-colored hair, a cute crooked smile, and emerald green eyes. Daddy was shy, played the guitar, and often got into trouble after drag-racing on Highway 67.
I had a difficult time when I started high school. Being a sensitive person, I would often worry too much about what others thought of me.
“Brandi,” Mom would tell me, “You can’t let people get to you like that.”
“Mom, it’s not that simple,” I would argue.
She had no way of understanding because she had little knowledge about what interested me. While she read generic romance novels, I read novels with deeper themes such as The Bell Jar and Death Be Not Proud. When I would show her my artwork or poetry, she would say: “Oh, that’s nice.” She said “That’s over my head.” when I tried to explain the symbolism or inspiration behind my creations. Mom rolled her eyes when I told her about my beliefs in destiny and fate. I soon stopped telling her about all the things I loved.
By some divine gesture, I was crowned Queen at my senior prom. Mom and I finally had something in common besides genes, for she had been Queen of Roses her senior year. She beamed when I told her the news. I would have loved to have seen that much pride in her eyes when I told her my dream to become a writer.
Despite our lack of understanding for each other, when I was a child I told Mom almost every detail of my life from the boys I had crushes on to the fights I had with my best friends. As I grew up, she continued to expect details that I could no longer give her. She had a way of changing her voice into a tone that made me feel guilty for not wanting to tell her the truth. For the first time ever, I had to lie to my mother, which put me in a state of agony.
Mom is proud of me because she feels that she raised me to the best of her ability. When she looks at me, she sees herself as a teenager with her blond hair and voice. My emerald green eyes and crooked smile probably remind her of my father, which might explain why she rarely looks at me when we talk. My only vivid memory of Daddy was the day he died when I was only four. Mom always tells me that he would have been so proud of me, but I have no way of knowing for sure.
At my high school graduation I was blessed with the opportunity to open the ceremony with a devotional. As I spoke of destiny and fate, I looked into the audience and realized that Mom was crying. Whether she was crying out of pride or because of the realization that I was no longer a child, I might never know. Perhaps I will ask her someday.
Recently, I experienced the scariest situation of my life. That same night I realized how deeply I care for someone. The part of me that is still a child wanted to tell my mother all about it when she called half an hour after I got home that Sunday morning, but the adult I am becoming did not. I told her only partial truth. In the back of my mind, I think she knows that I kept details from her. Maybe it is only my guilt causing me paranoia, but it is eerie how she can hint around about things that I have not told her.
“Well, I guess I better let you go since you don’t want to talk to me,” Mom said, implying her tone of disappointment.
Her words put me in rage. “Mom, you have to trust me,” I told her. “I’m not stupid.”
“I do trust you,” she said. “I just don’t trust the rest of the world.”
“I am careful of who I trust,” I answered. “You know that.”
“You know that sex is not a requirement when you’re seeing someone,” Mom said seriously. “Tell him to keep it in his pants.”
The last thing I needed was a lecture. “Mother!” I scolded, my face red with fury. “Not everything in this world revolves around sex. You said that you trust me. I’m not a child anymore. You can’t know everything about me. I want you to trust me to trust myself. I won’t do anything that I’ll regret.”
I guess every parent has difficulty letting go of their children. They fail to remember what it was like to grow up and separate from the security of their own childhood. Someday I will understand how my mother feels now, but it will be years from now when I have to let go of my own children. Perhaps one day, I will be able to tell Mom the truth. Maybe then she will understand, and so might I. For now, the mistakes I make will teach me about life.
-Brandi Easterling Collins
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