I can’t remember the first time I indulged in drinking a shower beer, but I remember when my mother noticed it.

It was Christmas break my junior year of college. I was broke and was spending the time off waiting tables to earn money for books and fun for the upcoming semester. I was inarguably the worst waitress on the planet. I am not indulging in hyperbole. Usually, by the end of the night neither the chefs nor the bartenders would be on speaking terms with me. To them, I was nothing more than a serious irritant, arresting the progress of their night. Drink orders confused me as I had no experience other than the limited knowledge of an underaged drinker with a scant budget. Dinner orders sometimes came out before appetizers, occasionally soup and desserts were forgotten entirely, and inevitably every night at least one costly dinner had to be comped because of my error. My wine service was as embarrassing to the restaurant owner as my inability to upsell was disappointing. I think he only kept me on because I knew how to smile.

But I wasn’t smiling the night I came home after a particularly dreadful day to see that some official looking mail from my college had been opened by my mother. I was outraged that she should take such a liberty. Was nothing sacred?

In hindsight, she opened all official looking mail since she was taking care of the bills, after all. And I didn’t want to open that kind of correspondence anyway.

This particular piece of mail did not hold financial information, but instead offered numbers of another variety and import: my grades.  And this semester had not been so good. The previous year I had taken some time off due to an illness and when classes started in the fall, I had new ideas about what was important. Classes whose ideas and discussions made my head spin were important; classes that I could easily fall asleep in were not. Consequently, I skimmed through a philosophy class whose syllabus I started ignoring halfway through the course and poured my intellectual heart and soul into an English class co-taught by two of my favorite professors. Unfortunately, neither class seemed to notice my efforts, or lack of, and I received the very same grade in each of these classes. Impossible. I was hurt.

And a little embarrassed. The injustice of your mother reading your disappointing grades before you did was only insult to the gnashing wound of the mediocre grades, which was just more injury on top my lamentable waitress services.

So, naturally, I gave my mother the kind of hell that a only a self-centered college kid can deliver and stomped up the stairs to take a shower to wash off the awful smell of dirty dishes that lingered on my hands long after the shift had ended. But mostly I went to hide.

Halfway through the shower, when the pain was beginning to numb against the steaming water, I heard the bathroom door squeak open. What was this? Normally invading bathroom time in our house was simply not done. Then I noticed an uncapped, dark brown bottle of beer quietly find its way past the shower curtain onto the edge of the bathtub. I recognized the hand that placed it there as my mother’s and it quickly disappeared. The bathroom door squeaked closed.

My mother, my dear, sweet mother who paid my bills and supported me emotionally, financially, physically and, everlastingly, knew- KNEW- how to ease the pain of all these injuries.

O, to be so loved.