Sometimes I wonder what kind of a child my mother imagined I would be, and contrast that with how I’ve turned out in actuality. It is both a depressing and an amusing picture. The obedient, caring, cheerful girl she probably wanted has been replaced by this sarcastic, debating, selfish individual.
So I’m smart in studies, and she admits this as a good trait – yet I have this strong impression that my mother would rather I were a little dumber and more tractable, than this smart and difficult to handle. And I really am difficult to handle. Wayward, obstinate – I back up all my arguments and rarely admit to being wrong.
My ideas, my constant desire to question, doubt, investigate – my interest in things that I have no business being interested in – dance, philosophy, art – I think of these as things that make me special. But for my mother they are irrelevant distractions, the appearance of which in me are as incompatible with her idea of an ideal daughter as my oft-expressed desire to get a series of five ear piercings and a tattoo.
I’m irreligious too – and on this point, I think, my mother is most upset. Instead of the pious, god-fearing, god-loving daughter she wanted, had even seen me set out to become, she’s seen me morph over time into this critical, questioning, careless individual that would sooner debate God than praise him. She sees this agnostic, doubting irreligiousness in me clearly sometimes – instead of ignoring it – and when she does she weeps for the daughter I could’ve been. I’ve seen her do it.
Where did she go wrong in her upbringing, she often wonders? Where indeed? She was pious, caring, strict, loving. Self-sacrificing, disciplinary, attentive. Then why didn’t I turn out the way I should’ve? I suppose children are like a recipe that never turns out the way you want it to, however much you follow it to the letter. And the apple pie my mother wanted didn’t quite turn out the way she planned. Not the fault of the baker, whichever way you look at it.
Maybe it’s the pie’s fault.