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Growing Pains: She moonlights as my mom

"When I was 16, I thought my parents knew nothing.  When I was 21, I  was shocked to discover how much they had picked up in the last 5 years." 

This week Growing Pains is for all the moms out there and for all the daughters who have been shocked by how much their moms have "learned."

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Dysfunction at its finest.

When I was in high school, people always told me that I would one day realize that my mom was much smarter than I gave her credit for being, and that, while she may be my enemy at the time, I would later change my mind as I became “more sophisticated."

Disclaimer: 99 percent of this “advice” was impressed upon me by my mom.

I would never say my mom and I were truly enemies, but we surely had our fair share of tension. I wanted to stretch my wings and be more independent, have more freedom, and be an adult when I was in high school. But I was still living at home with my mom. This often led to bickering and a degree of competitiveness between the two of us. My mom was, in a way, my rival -- the independent, successful woman I wanted to be, who worked hard and was incredibly sharp, but never forgot how to have fun and never took herself too seriously.

After more than a year of living on my own at college, I have realized that my mom is my best friend. She is the one person who has my best interests at heart, even if those interests conflict with her own from time to time.

I realized this last March, over spring break. I flew home and surprised her for a short visit. When she answered the door, she didn’t immediately recognize me because I was so out of context. I was supposed to be in Virginia, not New Orleans.

Her response was great -- calling me a goofball, marking my cheek with her signature “Orange Flip” Revlon lipstick, and patting me on the behind mid-hug. What followed was the best spring break I could have imagined.

While many of my friends were going to the beach, Europe, general week-long parties, I was having a great four days with my best friend. My mom.

New Years 2013

New Years 2013

Of course, on returning home, the first order of business was to see live music. Sunday night? No problem. We decided to make our way to the Maple Leaf. But first, we had to go to Fat Harry’s.

I had experienced my first taste of Bourbon Street after dinner at Galatoire’s, one evening in fourth or fifth grade with my mom, so why not keep the tradition alive and make my first trip to Fat Harry’s with her as well?

I have this dream of dancing on a bar, singing "Bennie and the Jets" with a sinfully attractive guy. If you’ve seen 27 Dresses, you know I borrowed this dream from that movie. If you haven’t seen it, YouTube it.

However, I got something a lot better that evening at Fat Harry’s. Forget the attractive guy or dancing on the F&M’s pool table. That Sunday night, I sang "Bennie and the Jets" over drinks with my best friend, the woman who also sometimes moonlights as my mom.

Native New Orleanian Elizabeth Kukla is a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She writes about being a NOLA girl from afar in “Growing Pains,” a weekly column at NolaVie.