Sasha Bonét is a writer whose work has appeared in Guernica and The Village Voice.
Jessica Grose: For Refusing to Wear Pants
As the mother of two girls, I’m sure that as they get older, there are going to be an endless number of things I feel bad about putting my own mother through. For now, I would like to apologize to my mom for refusing to wear pants for the entirety of preschool. My mother still talks about how she even had to shove my skirt into snow pants, because I was so insistent that pants were the devil.
My 4-year-old has a LOT of opinions about what she wears, and prefers what I would like to call seasonally inappropriate power clashing. The baby can’t talk yet but I’m sure she’s gonna have a lot of feelings about her clothes as soon as she can express herself beyond waving. So let me reiterate: I’m so sorry, mommy. If I could go back and wear some long johns on that cold winter day, I would in a heartbeat.
Jessica Grose is the editor of Lenny Letter and the author of Soulmates.
Abbi Waxman: For…Pretty Much Everything
My refusal to eat anything green from the ages of 1 to 14. My obsession with Siouxsie and the Banshees and my insistence that you listen to their music and totally appreciate their genius. My tendency to sit in the dark and moodily smoke cigarettes while listening repeatedly to “Save a Prayer” by Duran Duran—just loud enough that you could hear it down the hall. My persuading you that henna would color my hair a “natural yet striking” shade of red but do nothing permanent to the bathroom towels. Or floor. Or walls.
Everything to do with that guy you described as a “clump of hair with a boy hanging from it.” The whole blue eyeliner period. The little piles of tangerine peels I used to leave everywhere. My inability to return a cup to the kitchen once I had removed it. Those jeans with the zippers in the ankles that were so tight I got urinary tract infections that made me look like I had denim parsnips for legs, but which you still told me “looked super.” My distractedness when it came to conversations you were in the middle of, lack of awareness when you looked tired, and tastelessness in Mother’s Day jewelry choices (giant rhinestone peacock pin, anyone?).
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And finally, for all the times I said “Dad’s so much more fun than you are,” because he got to throw down the occasional permissive cameo while you did the constant, unrewarding work of actual parenting. Now that I look back, that was such a dick move it takes my breath away. But really, those super-tight zipper jeans were probably the worst thing.
Abbi Waxman is the author of The Garden of Small Beginnings.
Raakhee Mirchandani: For Pushing All Your Buttons
My mom just couldn’t get it right.
Her accent was too thick. And when she called my teachers—she always called my teachers to see how I was doing and what else I could be doing—I cringed thinking about the way she would pronounce geometry as “GEO-METRY,” wood shop as “VOOD SHOP.” (Full disclosure: I sucked at wood shop. And I’ve never needed a single shelf-building skill in my life, including sawing, sanding and staining.)
She always packed my lunch. Most days it was a sandwich and some carrot or celery sticks, never chips, cookies or chocolate. But it was always homemade, which means I never once got to stand in the school lunch line.
Then there were the clothes. The hand-me-downs from cousins, the sneakers from Payless and the random items we’d get from India that clearly had no place in a suburban New Jersey middle school.
And let’s not even get in to the grooming, please, because there was no makeup allowed. Ever. As for my unruly curls? They were never straightened, always out in full force. My mom maintained that school was for learning, so my nails were un-manicured, my arms covered in the fuzz that comes from being blessed with thick Indian hair.
And on the days when I got feisty, she would always say the same thing: “One day I hope you have a daughter. And I hope she’s just like you.”
Today I do have a little lady of my own. A precocious, clever and infinitely curious little thing who loves happy hour, impromptu dance parties and Wonder Woman. Satya is sassy and strident, a master negotiator and a button pusher, although I swear, it’s only my buttons she’s interested in pushing.
When I pick her up from school, I talk to her teachers about how she’s doing, looking for ways I can help her love to learn. On the days I pack her lunch, it’s almost always the same thing, a comforting reminder that someone loves her. I love getting her dressed, sometimes in items we’ve inherited from friends, the things I buy comically large so she can wear them for multiple seasons. Kids clothes can be so expensive. She likes to stick a bindi on her forehead and, much to the amusement of the people who ask, insists that it’s her “magical third eye.” When she became obsessed with my favorite gold nail polish, I switched to a clear coat. When she asked about why her arms had hair and mine didn’t, I stopped getting them waxed. I don’t want her to ever think she’s not perfect exactly the way she is—and to make sure that’s clear, I know I have to walk the walk. As for my hair, well, is always curly, it’s my signature.
I could apologize to my mother, but I hope her wish all those years ago really does come true. I hope that my daughter loves me the way I love my mama. I hope that what she find annoying now, she find empowering later. And, above all else, I hope she knows how lucky she is to have a Nani (grandmother) as gracious, forgiving and kind as my mother.
Raakhee Mirchandani is a writer and the editor of Moneyish.