It’s like my mother wandered down the produce section and grabbed whatever was on sale. Navel oranges and Gala apples. A bag of green grapes for good measure. And then she walked straight to the self-checkout kiosk, not really thinking it through.
What do you do with one apple and one orange? Surely you don’t make a smoothie.
But nobody told my mother this when she had to comfort her angry toddler back in 1992.
“It’s okay, honey,” I imagine her saying while she rubs her full belly. “I won’t love you any less.”
That didn’t stop me from resenting a baby before she was even born.
It took me a few months to come around to my sister. Apparently I was quite the attention hog as a three-year-old. I sat her down and tried to teach her the alphabet. And then, when she wasn’t listening, I grew frustrated.
I’m not an angry girl. But there are two types of people who upset me: those who don’t do what they’re supposed to and those who undermine other people.
At the time, I lumped Kels into the first category. She was six months old, for God’s sake. Wasn’t it about time she started moving some alphabet magnets around on the fridge to spell out words?
But now, she’s a victim of category #2. And I have sat back for oh, seven years, stewing in the comfort of my own home. Threatening, at times, to drive to a bully’s house to punch her in the face.
When my sister was almost stood up at her junior prom, she found a date in less than 15 minutes so she didn’t have to go solo. But that didn’t stop me from telling her, over and over, that she deserved better. That this boy wasn’t seeing the same girl I saw who — despite my best efforts — refused to sit still as an infant.
Now she’s in college. And still it continues. People look at a bubbly girl with big hair and a freckled nose and all they see is the poster child for Greek Row. They want to line her up and brush her shoulders off and make her stand up straight. Strip her of all her freedom to paint the world with her imagination.
What they don’t know (or don’t care about) is that she rearranged her entire bedroom when she was seven years old. She unplugged a desktop computer, mouse and keyboard and dragged it halfway across the room, rewiring it. She redesigned and furnished my mom’s office. She’s only a freshman in college and already she has 40 (I think) credits.
And she’s worried about falling behind. Worried she doesn’t have an internship this summer. Even though she’s taking two more classes and will work one (if not two) job.
The girl tried to schedule 19 credit hours for the fall, 3 of which equated to 6 hours in the classroom.
And there are still plenty of whispered sentiments behind backs that she is not ambitious. That she is nothing more than a ditzy party girl.
My mother said we each have a motto: mine is work hard, work harder and hers is work hard, party hard.
At the end of the day, I think she knows she raised two girls who push the limits of a 24-hour schedule. Who cram meaning into every minute of the day.
I’m an apple, a little more solid and sweet. She’s an orange, refreshing and zesty. But we’re both packed with nutrients. We’re both in the produce section. And we’re both worth the trip to the checkout counter.
Even if some people believe otherwise.