When my son started middle school, I got him a cell phone. He immediately made a different ring tone for each contact. The ‘ring tone’ for my incoming number was the warning, ‘Don’t answer the phone! It’s your mother!’ I found it both humorous and offensive. I suppose many teenagers see their mothers primarily as fault finders.
There are three main catagories of wine faults; TCA, Sulfur and Bacteria. Any of these wine faults, whether it is one of the three sulfur faults, one of the six bacteria faults, or the mold fault, trichloroanisole, can be detected by a telltale odor. For example, if your wine smells like vinegar, it’s from acetic acid bacteria. If it smells like saurkraut, it is from a lactic bacteria fault. A sulfur dioxide fault would cause a burnt match smell. And if, heaven forbid, you ever open a wine that smells like rotten eggs, it is from a hydrogen sulfide fault. With wine, it is easy to identify the faults. They each give off a distinct odor.
Finding fault with people may be easy to do, but it is never as easy to identify. Sometimes we walk away from a conversation a little irritated, but can’t quite put a finger on what the irritation is. It isn’t until a few hours of stewing later that we think of what we could have said. At least, that happens to me.
I know you got married at a young age while still in college. You had 4 kids by the time you were 28. Raising your kids was the focus of your life, and it was a lot of work. I appreciate you being there for us. Coming home from grade school to warm, fresh baked peanut butter cookies is one of my fondest memories. Wearing an adorable shift made from fabric that I got to pick out at the fabric store is another wonderful memory. Sitting beside you as you read Ogden Nash’s The Adventures of Isabel to me for the third time is probably not one of your favorite memories, but it is one of mine. All of this took time; time that you could have been spending getting a graduate degree or pursuing a career. I understand why, when you were in your 40’s you turned your attention to those things. I missed having you at my track meets, ballet recitals, and at home in the afternoon, but I don’t begrudge you your own ambitions. I admire you for it.
When I was in my 20’s and 30’s I was focused on a career. I worked hard and earned every success I achieved. I’m proud of that time in my life. But once I had children of my own, I wanted more than anything to give them my full attention. I never thought I would be a stay at home mom, nor did I realize how much that would entail, even with them in school. I’m glad I’m here when my son calls because he forgot his flute or his glasses. I’m glad I can pick up my daughter when she gets a migraine. I’m glad I have time to shop at the farmers’ market, make healthy, delicious meals, keep the house organized and relatively clean, keep everyone’s drawers full of clean clothes, take my daughter to her five dance classes, take my son to his three music classes, pay the bills, call the maintanance people when things break, plan outings, social events and vacations, keep the cars maintained, exercise and train the dog…everything that needs to be done to keep things running smoothly. I’m very glad I can be here to do that. As my lovely husband says, ‘You being here to take care of everything at home makes all our lives easier.’
When I do have free time, I have some wonderful hobbies that make my life richer. I run. I lift weights. I play and study piano. I write. Just this month I’ve started studying for my CSW, Certified Specialist of Wine. It’s something I’m very interested in, and I am really enjoying learning about wine in this detail. I plan to sit for the exam within the next six to eight months.
No, mother, I don’t know, yet what I will do with a CSW. As my wonderfully supportive husband says, ‘Knowledge is always a good thing. You’ll figure something out when the time comes.’
The time hasn’t come, yet. I’m still raising my kids. I’m fortunate in that I can be here for them when they leave in the morning and here when they come home. I can drive them to as many extra-curriculars as they are interested in. This is their time, and I am here for them. Just because I don’t get paid for my time doesn’t make my time worthless. I’m watching my kids flourish and succeed and know that my being here for them is a big part of their success. I think that’s very valuable.
Mother, I love and admire you, but the timelines of our lives are reversed. You raised your kids, then had your career. I had my career. Now, I’m raising my kids. I hope you can respect that. We’ve both had a lot of success in our lives.
In retrospect, that’s what I should have said. But often times I am slow to identify the irritation. Many people have trouble identifying faults. Apparently, this is not true for mothers. Mothers are masters at identifying faults.
I love you in spite of all your faults that I am sure I have enumerated for you countless times. It’s a special gift I have.
P.S. I’m writing to you, because I knew you wouldn’t answer your phone.