The following is an actual conversation between my two kids and me at dinner one night.
Daughter (12 years old): Mom, how’s your new tattoo healing?
Mom (glancing at pretty vines and flowers wrapping around her wrist): Fine, fine. (Reflective pause.) You know, you guys, your mom is pretty bad-ass.
Son (14-years-old): Pshhhh. (Eye roll and general dismissive tone indicating his surprise that I remain in his presence taking up oxygen and, on behalf of the ozone, resenting the carbon dioxide I exhale.)
Mom: No, really. I’m a comedian, I was asked to be in a music video, I have multiple tattoos…pretty bad-ass.
Daughter: Please Mom. Your tattoos are flowers and stars. Flowers and stars, Mom.
Mom: Bu-….wh-… I-… (Sigh.)
If her tone had been bitchy, I could have felt vindicated, secure that her response was merely the thoughtless reflex of ‘tweenhood. But my daughter wasn’t bitchy. She was very sympathetic. It was as if she gently had taken my hand, looked me compassionately in the eye, and said, “Look, Mom, I know you want to see yourself as a bad-ass MILF who goes through life kicking ass and taking names. But you and I both know that you drive a mini-van, you spent the better part of yesterday cleaning the bathrooms, and the most meaningful adult conversation you’ve had this week was with the receptionist at the orthodontist’s office. I’m really sorry, Mom, but flowers... And stars. Flowers and stars.”
Maybe I’m not bad-ass. Maybe a mom can’t be bad-ass anyway. Maybe that’s why Angelina Jolie keeps having kids. She trying to find one who thinks she’s bad-ass.