Words From Your Daughter-in-Law

For my birthday last year Jenny got me quite a few things including food. God I love food. I’m thinking about it right now. I even have some stashed under my mattress to look at whenever the house is empty. The food Jenny got me was inside of a blue box, wrapped in envelopes. Things like “Open when you need a quick snack” and “Open when you’re at work and just need to ‘take a break’” were on the outside of the envelopes. Others, not involving food (boo!) were a little more sentimental.

One was specific for me to open today. I didn’t. I opened it yesterday instead. It’s the anniversary of my mom’s death which means I have to post about it on Facebook and have people half-heartedly sympathize for me. Then, while at work, I have to bring it up to as many people as possible. I’ll probably also change my profile picture to one of me with my mom as a kid because if someone on this planet doesn’t know I had a rough day five years ago then I haven’t done my job.

Dealing with death is hard for everyone. It’s especially difficult for those who didn’t know the deceased. What do you say to someone to console them? We do all of the clichés and damn it do I hate them.

In particular I hate people saying dead people would be proud of their children. Yeah? As if this is some sort of completeness. In the immediate moments after someone, especially a parent or other mentor, dies you hope that one of their last thoughts would have been how proud they were of you. As much as a parent doesn’t want to let their children down a kid hates to disappoint those who birthed them. It’s both nature and nurture. We really don’t want our family to think less of us because we’re stupid ape things with less hair.

Without going fully into what Jenny wrote on the note inside of the envelope because she was quite sassy and I would prefer to keep it between us, she didn’t simplify it. She didn’t just say my mom would be proud of me like so many other cheap ways of consolation would. Being proud of someone, or in this case knowing they are, is not satisfactory to me. Even if they are, does a parent need to say that? Proud of one thing you’ve done in particular feels nice. As a whole, I feel like you’ve settled.

popcorn mama
Jenny knew my mom loved popcorn. Apparently, she also liked pooping it out too.

I’ve seen people before post about how their dead parents would be proud of them. They’ve actually declared it, not someone else saying this about them. It’s incredibly self-serving and limiting. Whether anyone is proud of you or not shouldn’t matter. And if they are, it should mean you should continue to do more.

So really, thank you Jenny for not saying what everyone says. My mom would be proud of me for some things. Others, not so much. What matters is I’ve made (or tricked) someone else (Jenny) into caring about me. That says something.

As sad as it makes me knowing my mom will never meet Jenny, the same way it doesn’t matter whether she’s proud of me or not, I know she’d like her. Jenny makes me happy and that’s all that matters. If your child can find happiness in anyway then be proud of them. After all, happiness is not a disease.

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