The IDEA of You

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she said, “I don’t miss my mother. I miss the idea of my mother.”

I could understand that completely. First of all, I got to know her mother before she passed away a decade ago, and the woman was as hard as nails. She’d say things to her daughter like, “Should you really eat that donut, honey? If you get any fatter you’ll never find yourself a man.”

I love my friend. She’s an amazing person. But she got that way in spite of, not because of, her upbringing. That, to me, makes her all the more impressive.

But all of us want our mothers every once in a while. We want unconditional love. We want someone to rock us in her arms and say, “There, there, everything’s going to be all right.” Unfortunately the reality of our mothers doesn’t always fit the fantasy of our mothers.

And that situation can apply to a lot of people that walk into and out of your life. I once was contacted by an ex-boyfriend whom I hadn’t spoken to in about 5 years. He asked me out. I was over the moon. This guy… well, to say we always had mad chemistry is putting it mildly. I was so excited by this unexpected contact that I completely forgot why I had broken up with him in the first place.

So he comes to my door, and we hug, and certain parts of me nearly burst into flame. And we chatted and caught up with each other, and then we got up to go out to dinner and he said, “Wait. You’re going to wear that?”

I immediately thought, “Oh. It’s you.” The guy who criticized me. The guy who always made me feel as though I wasn’t quite good enough. The guy who liked to remind me that his ex-wife was a model. I had forgotten about that guy. I had replaced him in my head with mad chemistry guy, who suddenly no longer existed. I lost my appetite. I hadn’t missed him. I’d missed the idea of him. I never saw him again.

In this feast of life, sometimes it’s true: you really shouldn’t eat that donut.


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