I have a mole. On my face. By the side of my right eye, to be exact, a’la Cindy Crawford. Except in North Dakota, when I was five years old, Cindy Crawford wasn’t a household name (Hell, was she even born yet?), and even if she had been, my five-year old butt wouldn’t have given a rip.
I hated the mole.
Mama called it a “beauty mark,” but I wasn’t buying it. She even showed me pictures of Elizabeth Taylor, ‘the most beautiful woman in the world,’ who sometimes made a small kohl-black mark by one violet eye, just to draw attention.
“Hmph.” I thought Elizabeth Taylor must be some kind of weirdo, marking her pretty face up on purpose. Who wanted little black bits on her face?
Flawed. My face was flawed. Every time I looked in the mirror, the mole mocked me. I’d study my reflection, place my index finger over the mole, trying to imagine my face without it.
“I hate this thing!” I’d complain to my mother, and she’d smooth my hair and coo in my ear that I was a lovely girl, and suggest that maybe it was time to quit hanging out in the bathroom so much. Usually she sent me outside, to do my sulking in fresh air.
One winter evening, as I watched Mama take off her makeup (for some reason, the cornucopia of lotions and potions–the ritual of it all–fascinated me) I was overcome with envy. As I looked at her beautiful skin, wide blue eyes and perfect nose, I couldn’t help but find my own countenance lacking.
“Argh! I hatethismoleIhatethismoleIhatethismole!!!!!!”
Playfully, Mama tapped me under the chin and looked at me with mock seriousness.
“Sweetheart, do you really hate that mole so much?”
“Okay, fine then. I’ll make it go away.” She proceeded to place her hand over the mole, massage the skin, and chant, “Abracadabra, bobbity-boo, when I count to ten, this mole will shoo!”
She lifted her hand and I, nearly breathless, said “ohhhhhh!” I gasped in awe, and looked in the mirror, fully believing that the mole would be gone.
My mother didn’t get the laugh she expected.
Devastated, furious, betrayed, I fled from the room in tears. I shut my bedroom door and sobbed. And then, in typical fashion, I proceeded to pout for 2 hours.
After a good few hours of sulking, Mama knocked on my door.
“Can I come in?”
She sat on my bed and stroked my back lightly. “Sweetheart, I am so sorry. I had no idea that you actually believed I could make that mole disappear. I’m so sorry you are upset; I shouldn’t have tried to joke with you.”
Sniffle. “Of course I thought you could make it go away. You’re my mommy. You can do everything.”
“Oh, baby. Mommies can do a lot, but they can’t do magic.”
“Well, I thought you could!” Scowl.
“I know. I know that now.” She lay down on the bed and snuggled me tight. I could smell her Evanescence night cream, the one that came in the mysterious black bottle. “Forgive me?”
“We all have things about us that we wish we could change, but darling, you are a lovely girl. One tiny little mole isn’t going to take that away from you.”
I didn’t believe her at the time; I was too close to sleep, too overwhelmed by the idea that my mother–the mother that fixed the world and made everything right–couldn’t perform magic.
Turns out, Mama was wrong. She could perform magic. All mothers can. She may not have been able to make the mole vanish in to thin air, but no matter. The magic she made was made of finer stuff.
Happy Mother’s Day, to all of you beautiful mothers out there. You perform magic every day.