Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Truth or Consequences

When I was a kid and my friends and I would play Truth or Dare, I always chose Truth. In part, I was a chicken . . . afraid to embarrass myself in a dare. But I also didn't have anything to hide. Never have. I'm the proverbial open book. If you know me, there isn't much you don't know about me.

Which means I'm nothing like my mother. Sure, I look like her. Our senior pictures are eerily similar. Of her four daughters, I'm the only one that ended up with her green eyes. We're built alike. We have the same voice, both singing and speaking. And as I've gotten older, I only look more like her.

But my mom is a private person. She doesn't like talking about emotional issues. She doesn't like confrontation. Heck, when my husband and I have an argument (and I mean over something as benign as which TV show to watch), she hurries from the room like she might get dragged into having to choose sides if she sticks around. She's never offered me parenting advice--even when I've asked for it. She's never suggested I lose weight, gain it, wear something different, change my hairstyle, or try less blush next time. She figures my life is my business and hers is hers. Frankly, I find it all rather . . . quaint. Cute, even. She makes me laugh.

Sometimes, though, her tendency to keep everything quiet brings me up short.

A number of Christmases ago, I was telling her I hadn't gotten a card from my Aunt Ruth, who had been sending me a card every year for as long as I'd been married. Mom said, "Oh . . . didn't I tell you? She died." Months earlier.

Then just a few years ago, we were talking about twins, and she said, "Y'know, you started out as a twin." What?!?! "Yes," she went on. "But then the next time I went in for an appointment with the doctor, it was gone." Yep: two heartbeats one visit; just one--mine--the next. Apparently, either Mom or I reabsorbed the twin after it died, and I went on to be just fine.

I wonder a lot about that twin. How would my life be different? Would we have gotten along? Would my parents still have had my younger brother and sister if he/she had survived? It's not something I obsess over or that upsets me. It's not as if I feel part of me is missing. I just wonder, y'know? Same as I wonder where different paths in my life could have taken me.

I also wonder what else my mom hasn't told me--not because she's hiding things but because she just hadn't thought to tell me already.

As for me? My kids probably wish I told them a little less. A happy median may have been nice. I bet that would've been my twin.


AngryBaker said...

A twin? Yeah, I would think that would have come up at some point much earlier. I lean more towards the private side, but not so much with family and close friends. I admire people that have that much control over what they say. Do you think it's a conscious effort?

I always took a dare b/c my friends always knew what boys I liked and that meant high probability that I would be dared to kiss one of them. Trampy, but true.

Unrelated: I liked driving through the town, Truth or Consequences, NM, and imagining how awkward it is when they get asked where they are from. And what they teach in the high schools.

Val said...

I think I tend to lean towards too much information. But I figure how else am I ever going to get to where I feel like I know people? My dear husband has put a ban on some kinds of openness, like open bathroom doors, so I'm a little more restrained than I used to be.

Your story about your aunt reminds me of when my grandmother died )(I was 12) and my parents forgot to tell me. I found them making funeral arrangements and said something like, "you guys are talking like she's already dead!" And that's when I found out.

Bobbie said...

AB, I don't think it's a conscious effort for my mom to be so private. Her mom was even *more* private (though it's hard for me to imagine!), so I think it's a conscious effort for her to share anything about herself.

Val,I was doing some family history work recently, and my mom couldn't remember when her parents had died. I had to look up their records elsewhere. I remember when her mother died, b/c she called me to tell me. But I don't even remember how I found out about my grandfather's death. Perhaps it's generational, this tendency to not make a big deal over death?