By Muriel Hoffacker
Gordon College News Service
May 5, 2010
(This editorial appeared May 8 in The Salem News.)
At age 15, nothing is more humiliating than having your mom poke your elbow with a fork at the dinner table reminding you to get it off, when the boy you’re dating is sitting right across from you. Hours later, he breaks up with you saying, “You’re a little too weird for me.” Your mom insists that she knew all along he wasn’t “Mr. Right.”
How about the time she dropped you off at school during the bustle of the morning traffic, singing the American national anthem at the top of her lungs, insisting on starting your day with excitement as you climbed out of the car? You slammed the door relieved that her sound would be muted, only to hear the Canadian national anthem streaming out as she rolled down the windows. All your peers stared at you and you were convinced your heart was beating so fast you thought it would burst. Years later Mom visits you at college, takes you out to lunch and then when she drops you off at the dorm, she does it: She belts out the national anthem. Again.
Though I stopped going into ‘time-out’ when I was 21-years old, and I still have a curfew of 10:30 P.M., I know it’s my mom’s way of protecting me. No, she’s not one of those ‘helicopter parents,’ keeping her eye on me every second and hoping to scare me with these humiliating experiences. I still have some touching up to do and she’s willing to buff my edges.
Now 22, a graduating senior in college and about to enter a world where I am an adult and should no longer reach my mom through a simple text or phone call whenever I want, I am realizing that these ‘embarrassing’ moments I experienced with my mom are what changed me from the vulnerable, zit-bearing, too-cool-for-that teen into a strong, independent woman.
That description sounds like one of those self-help book subtitles, but in actuality, if I had been raised by a mother who didn’t belt out the national anthem in public, didn’t poke my elbows off the dinner table with her fork, didn’t proudly announce that she was my mom when picking me up from hanging out with my ‘best friends’ at the mall, I’m pretty sure I’d be in fetal position somewhere, afraid for the next step in life after graduation.
I once thought these ‘outrageous’ moments would scar me for the rest of my existence, but now I am coping with the fact that when I leave college, I’m also leaving my childhood behind. I will no longer experience my mother’s ‘embarrassing’ moments.
Instead, I will benefit from these ‘mortifying’ memories when I eat breakfast with a future employer and I don’t put my elbows on the table. Perhaps I’ll even meet “Mr. Right.” If I do, I might tell him about the mornings I was dropped off at school with my mom’s booming voice in the background, just so I can remind myself to start my day with excitement and pass it on to my neighbors.
Thanks to my mom’s relentless efforts in providing me with outgoing adventures, I will be able to face life with gumption. I’ll graduate college and enter adulthood in constant remembrance of the love my mom showed while raising me. And I won’t be surprised if in the future I start my mornings humming the national anthem.
Muriel Hoffacker is graduating from Gordon College May 15, 2010, with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts.