I save the best for last

[edited from an earlier publishing at the Alter Ego's blog, entitled "My mother's daughter"]

There are a lot of things I keep secret from my mom, and I still don't know why. But maybe talking through it can shed some light on things.

In many cases it was my early signs of my independence, a drive to take care of myself without letting her oversee everything. Mom never seemed especially comfortable talking with me about certain things, and I never became especially comfortable talking about those things with her or anyone else.

I started shaving my legs in the summer of seventh grade, after I borrowed Mom's razor in the shower and the same year I started my first job. I figured if I was responsible enough to be earning taxable income, I was responsible enough to use sharp objects unsupervised. I read in the books Mom casually left in my path that girls my age were supposed to ask their mother's permission to shave, or to wear a bra, or about boys or any number of pubescent and early adolescent things. But I had spent a good time of my life annoying my sisters while they grew up, and I guess I learned enough through osmosis that it became a lot easier for me to skip the whole Mom-talk thing and do it all myself. She was always (and still is) so busy, I just assumed it was just as well. We had an open line of passive communication-- girly books left conspicuously on my dresser, bras in shopping bags with clearance t-shirts-- the verbal part just seemed to interrupt our otherwise seamless understanding.

"Did you see what I left you?"
"Yeah, Mom. I think so. Thanks."
"Oh, well, I just thought it might help with, you know..."
"Right. Okay, well, thanks."

As I got older, it became more about my genuine concern for both her and our status quo. She worked all the time to put my sisters through college while I was barely in middle school-- it became clear to me that as the youngest by nine years, she felt more comfortable raising me without needing to spend as much time with me. And I'm fine with that. In fact, I loved it. We had a system going where I would say as little as possible, she would pry answers out of me with yes or no questions, and then we'd both give up and go back to work. Body language said all we needed; the yes' and nos just worked out the particulars.

Which is why it's hard to comprehend the turnaround now that I'm in college. We speak more regularly than I think we ever did while living together, I see her more often than most classmates see their parents, and the things I omit from our conversations aren't necessarily embarassing, but are often so irrelevant that I forget them, or I feel like I don't want to tell her yet.

Like my writing habits.

I've been blogging since January, and it's been a sisterly/Internet secret that I write more to the World Wide Web at large than I do emails to my mom. This is the woman who has saved in her house a good part of my entire academic history, from kindergarten finger paintings to college admission essays. I fear that if I tell her about things in my life, like this blog, or how many boyfriends I don't have, that they will become part of a permanent record in her mind, documented by miscellaneous letters and a comprehensive, printed anthology of every blog post or comment I have submitted here or elsewhere. And if I later become ashamed of or disappointed in that part, no amount of guilting or pretending it never existed will erase it from her memory.

Part of why I haven't told her is that I fear I would censor myself more; that I would write less or more conservatively out of fear of not being good enough in front of her, despite that I know she loves me. Maybe I should take advice from those whose lives are in the public domain. What do famous people talk to their mothers about? What does Lindsay Lohan's mom think of her party life? How does Marshall Mathers' mom introduce herself? Paris? Britney?

The inspiration for this confessional-- my passive way to calm what can only be a storm called Mom when I tell her about this blog-- was that scholarship contest I entered over at the Prog Blog (you know, the one I bugged you guys relentlessly to go read for the last couple weeks?). I feel like I might have a spitting chance, and if I win, Mom will eventually find out that I owe less in student debt. It would be awfully convenient to explain if I win. And if I don't, it's just another thing she didn't have to worry about and I don't have to worry about her remembering.

So, Mom, please understand how much we understand each other-- enough that, however deep down, you know that I'll get around to telling you the important things. I hope you aren't too mad that sometimes you're one of the last to know.

Love you!

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