Thursday, October 13, 2011

Voyage Around My Mother

The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. - Sam Levenson

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between - Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer c1945)

Alma Road East St Kilda - Circa Last Century!
"What a shocker!" my daughter exclaimed, upon seeing - apparently for the first time - this photo of me as a child - holding a toffee apple, in front of my home some time a hundred years ago.

"The hair!" she added.

Well I knew. But I'd repressed it. The hair. In the language of 21st century Australia - it was "a shocker"!

But at last, someone-not-me had voiced it. There was no turning back.

"It's a basin cut, Mum," she continued. "She was probably too poor to take you to a hair-dresser." "She didn't cut it," I snapped back. "She took me to a BARBER!"

That night in my dreams it all came flooding back. The hair-cuts, the embarrassment, me looking at the other girls at school - pretty girls with curly locks.

"She hated me," said my inner voice. My inner child. And I listened.

As the day wore on, I became increasingly convinced. My inner child had surfaced and was telling me something. No, let me be honest, she was SHRIEKING it! "She didn't like you; she was JEALOUS!" she was saying.

I pretended I couldn't hear her and went to the office. Conveniently I became lost in meetings, codings, emails. But the inner child was not to be stifled.

And Again!
I remembered years ago seeing a therapist in Australia. Her name was Lolita. Really! She didn't look like a "Lolita" though. I remember her as looking sort of academic. A blue-stocking. An intellectual. Full of wisdom.

We'd sit her dimly-lit consultation room and I'd talk. Occasionally she'd comment.

"You have to learn to LOVE that little girl, the child that was YOU," she said one day. In response to what, I do not remember. But the comment stuck.

I tried. I tried to love that inner child but it didn't happen. I continued to stifle my inner child's persistent voice.

And then last week after my call to my daughter, my inner child became even more strident. Telling me about my mother. She wouldn't shut up. Yes, she was obviously MY inner child. Remembering my daughter's comment on my childhood hair-cut, at last I accepted her credentials ...

Still, she was hardly likeable. Though she did earn my respect; she had persistence.

I picked up the phone and called my daughter.

And Again!
"Hey, I have to thank you for pointing out that 'shocker' haircut," I said. "I now know that my mother hated me."


"Yes, really," I insisted.

My daughter came up with all sorts of excuses for my mother's behaviour. But I could tell that she was searching desperately, blindly. There was no getting past it. That haircut was the product of my mother's instructions to the barber, hairdresser, whatever.

AND it wasn't an isolated haircut. It was the norm.

Eventually my daughter concurred. After she'd controlled her laughter she said, "Mum, you've had an epiphany!"

Yep, that's what I'd had.

I'd always thought though that an epiphany was a thing of wonder. Like seeing Jesus, or discovering that the world isn't flat.

But then, seeing as I'm currently trying to be a "glass-half-full" kinda person, I supposed that I should accentuate the positive.

A bad hair-cut is no tragedy. It'll always grow out.

But try telling THAT to my inner child.

She's still screaming!


chinamonty said...

I don't really agree Kate. We all go the haircuts that were in fashion for our parents not us. I had to fight for three years to go from a basin cut to a square cut and I only got that because my elder siblings had left home and had different cuts. My sister had the hair style as you even though she is older. It was more parents proving their authority than hating.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a return visit to the therapist is in order

Vanessa said...

I agree Kate, your inner child is right. Similar thing happened to me as a child. My dad took me to a barber once as a kid and I ended up with a pixie haircut. My mother went through the roof. It was horrible.

However, be glad you HAVE hair as some women are destined for baldness. Rare but it does occur.

Try to focus on your flattering features, your bone structure and your eyes. You have beautiful eyes.

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