The Princess and the Parent


‘Stuck in the Maternal Memory Loop’

Yesterday The Child turned 24. How can that be, when just yesterday The Child turned four (!)

Welcome to the world of the Maternal Memory Loop, where scenes from the past find themselves superimposed over the present. And insist on being played, and replayed, in the Maternal Head. Stuck there, until I slap myself silly (figuratively, that is) in a futile attempt to dislodge them.

See, my conscious mind knows that The Child is a Grown Woman who works in Boston as a Software Engineer. But my memory-loop mind insists that she is a Child who works in her Room as a Kindergartner. (Cue adorable photos):

This ‘looping’ can prove awkward. Like when she mentioned she was going to Mardi Gras with some friends.

Child: “Yeah, Mom. A bunch of us are flying down, staying near the Quarter, and checking out the parade. It’ll be great!”

Loopy-Minded Me (thinking): “But…but. Who’s going to check you in at the airport and pack your stuffed animals and hold your hand so you don’t get lost?”

But (saying, thank the Parental Gods): “Cool!”

See, not only is The Child perfectly capable, thank you very much, of going on a trip on her own, she can actually pull together a pretty cool Mardi Gras costume. Without benefit of parent. But then, she’s always been pretty good at this, as the evidence proclaims (cue more impossibly cute pics):

OK. Since this is a Birthday Post, and what we really want to see are impossibly cute pictures, let’s just go with that for a moment, shall we? Here is another example of what I see inside my head, and what’s really out there in front of my eyes:

All right, enough of that (for the moment) and back to the story. One day last week my phone rang. The Child had news. She wanted to come home for her Birthday Weekend, and she wanted to host a Birthday Dinner. In the apartment.

Child: “I’ll do all the cooking and the cleaning up. It’ll be great!”

Me: (Stuck in the Maternal Memory Loop, which meant I was imagining her as a four-year-old manipulating pots and pans, not to mention antique glassware) “No.”

Well, I thought about this, Ladies and Gentlemen. And decided I was (gulp) wrong. So I sent an email the very next day, basically saying that everything in the apartment, including stemware discovered on Portobello Road and vintage silver arm-wrestled from heirloom-loving sisters-in-law, was ‘going to be yours one day anyway’ and that she ‘might as well get used to playing with it now’.

So, even though she offered to have The Dude and me as her Honored Guests at said Dinner, we graciously declined and vacated the premises. To give her some space to entertain her friends on her own, as a Twenty-Something should.

After all, when I was her age I’d been married and divorced already. And my mother, at her age, had already had two children. (Gulp.) I should be grateful, really, that all she wanted to do was boil some penne.

And guess what? While a certain diabolical part of me would love to say that All Hell Broke Loose (like glassware), it was not to be. When The Dude and I re-entered The Apartment Zone on Sunday, the scene was pristine. If one did not know there had been a party, birthday or otherwise, one would not have been able to tell (at all!)

So, let’s all heave a heavy sigh of domestic relief, and go back to the cute photos. And back to best wishes for a most marvelous birthday-plus-one-day, Child of Mine. You are the absolute BEST. And a fit inheritor of the Domestic Paraphernalia. Though you could use a little Remedial Bathroom-Cleaning Practice. (not much, just a little).

The Child gets her hands dirty on the high seas

The Child gets her hands dirty on the high seas. If you can do this, O Child, you can deal with an ordinary bathroom

Let’s end the cute pics, already. But on a high note. Quite literally. Here is the Child, in my Maternal Memory. And The Child, not stuck there. Better her than me, in both cases.

Speaking of Parental Phenomena, if you are interested in (or missed) my riff ‘On Being (a) YoYo Ma’ you won’t be sorry if you check it out. Maybe weepy, but not sorry. And if that’s not enough maternal wallowing for you, do check out ‘Gone Baby Gone’. But pour yourself a (big) glass of wine first.

As always, thank you very much for reading. And subscribing (hint hint). And lest we forget, The Child may be the Princess around here, but guess who is the Queen? (at least for the time being. I’m not nearly ready to relinquish my crown, or my Crown Derby):

The Monarch of All She Surveys, at least on 68th Street

The Monarch of All She Surveys, at least on 68th Street


New York City. March 2015

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13 thoughts on “The Princess and the Parent

  1. This is a brilliant and beautiful birthday tribute.
    As a Mom with a teen I can understand the memory loop problem. We spend so much time and energy being a Mom and then suddenly, they grow up. The best part? They grew up and we have those memories.
    Hope ‘The Child’ had a wonderful birthday and that you had a wonderful, ‘Look What An Amazing Job I Did’ Day! 🙂

    • What a lovely thing to say, Donna. And oh how I appreciate it! Since you are the Mom of a Teen, I know that you definitely ‘get’ what I’m talking about (!) Yes, The Child did indeed have a fabulous birthday. And we had a fabulous time with her. Here’s hoping you enjoy all your birthdays too — yours and your teen’s!!!

  2. Myrna Henry

    What can I say, after such a beautiful tribute? Grandpa and I had the cordless phone perched in a tree as we worked in the roses so we wouldn’t miss the news. An exciting day!!!

    • Exciting, yes! I didn’t know that about the phone in the tree, at least not on that particular occasion! Thanks for the sweet comment, and for reading, and for being my Mom. And, well, for everything! xoxoxo

  3. Ruth Meisenheimer

    Happy birthday Samantha! So, it’s been that long ago that I got to hold you on my knee on the Henry porch in Carlyle! And … You’re just a few years younger than my equally amazing, handsome, single grandson!!

  4. ellen

    Yes indeed! Well said. We have one Marvelous March BIrthday Child, but now my March birthday calendar has blossomed with the Marvy March BIrthdays of three of our Grandchildren. Your Loop will expand to Loopy someday!

    • Aren’t March birthdays grand? We could call it ‘March Madness’ except for the fact that the basketball sporties have co-opted that term. Thanks for reading, and for commenting, Miss E! And enjoy the birthdays this month.

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