I have this visual of my cousins, Claire and Beth, in their Catholic school uniforms happily walking home with their arms intertwined. Once they get to Beth's house, they proceed to make themselves milkshakes (chocolate) and head straight to Beth's room to start their homework. This is done with even BIGGER smiles on their faces... and of course, all of this is done without a single parent in sight telling them what to do. They happily choose to do this. Every. Day.
This is the image my Mom put in my head as I was growing up. I can't count the number of times she told me how great my cousins were (all six of them) and how well they were doing in school. When we really got out of hand, she'd say something like "(Gasp!) What would your Aunt Celeste think of this? or Memere?!" For a long time, the thought that my perfect and beautiful American cousins would think that I was a rotten-little-brat totally scared me straight.
Now that I'm no longer 8 yrs-old, I still think about all those stories my Mom told me. About how my Aunt Mary & Uncle Bill gave up their home for us and put a roof over our heads when we first arrived from Peru. I remember my Dad calling my Aunt Celeste an angel when we saw an old family friend in the street. How my Uncle LJ took care of Memere without complaining. Yup, my family was perfect and I was just one lucky little girl.
I know now no one's perfect, no matter how many milkshakes they drink. I've come to realize that my family has had their share of struggles but for all the "No way's - not MY family!" that I've thought, my vision of them hasn't faltered much. They're still perfect to me. A part of me still wants to be just like them.
I think my Mom played her cards pretty wisely and like all Mom's should. She created an image for us to strive for. She created love and respect for our family - mixed in with a little awe. It doesn't matter now what was true and what wasn't, no one can take that away from me. I think of the stories I tell my girls and just like my Mom, leave out some of the not-so-pretty details. Not because I want to lie but because I want them to always try to be their best, to always be on their best behavior.
So, it's Mother's Day and I've really got to get cracking on perfecting my milkshake recipe! :)