For my mom’s birthday today, I’m doing a blog post about how she helped me get to the Olympics in Judo. She’s always been a bit paranoid that going to med school ruined my life since she wasn’t around much for a long time. But I wrote a poem a long time ago about how her determination was a big inspiration for me. In fact, some of the rudest arguments I had with my husband was when he said, “Oh, but you didn’t have a childhood, since you took so much responsibility so young.”
And I would say, “Oh, but your kids are not at all self-sufficient. They’re sixteen and don’t even know how to boil an egg.”
So, finally she came out to meet him and settled it all by giving him the Wolf Woman seal of approval before we got married. She had spotted with my first husband that we had different amounts of energy and ambition. So this time I was determined to hear what she thought. Now whenever I’m mad at him I call her and she takes his side instead of mine.
But from my mom, I learned:
How to be productive – You know you’re a productive person when you feel guilty for playing video games instead of reading something educational when you are on the pot. At one point I had a Game Boy in the bathroom and I asked my mom to tell my Grandma to stop subscribing me to Guideposts magazine because I’d rather play Tetris in the john. My mom said, “You tell her.” So of course I just took the Game Boy out.
How not to be a perfectionist – Of course, because then nothing gets done. I remember that I’d struggled with that lesson enough to have a name for it when I was young, “The paralysis of perfectionsim.”
How to garden and forage and cook – So now I know how to eat good food for cheap. It’s amazing how much food you can get at City Market at the right time of the year. And I really enjoy the whole process of food preparation. When I was ten one of her friends explained how they had their kids plan the meal, cook, and clean the kitchen two nights of the week. So we started cooking the very next night. Of course we went for hot dogs and hamburgers first of all. She was a good enough sport to accommodate that until she decided that we should all go on a macrobiotic diet for a while. I learned the prime rule of cooking, too: Never leave the kitchen.
How to dream – She went to med school as a single parent! And as a non-traditional student, about ten years older than the rest of the classmates. And now she is a shaman, a marakame in the Huichol Indian tradition, which took 12 years of training and about the same amount of dedication and discipline.
How to not listen to naysayers – Just is case you missed it the first time, she went to med school as a single parent! And as a non-traditional student, about ten years older than the rest of the classmates. And I think she finished as salutorian in her class. Her study partner was the valedictorian.
I have a poem about that, too, from my first poetry book, from one of my first poetry books.
Argument about going to the Olympics:
1) If you think I can, I will.
to prove you’re right.
To show you than you can, too.
If you think I can’t, I will.
To prove to your you’re right: I can’t quit.
To show you that you can too.
So think whatever you want.
And I will succeed.
2) You think I can’t.
And that is why I can’.
Because your denial gives me strength
To try even harder.
And not just try, but succeed.
You’re right, it is an obsession.
At least it’s partly healthy.
You think I can’t.
So I will prove to you I can.