For The Love Of Mom
Damn, my mom looks good. She looks like Jane Fonda from her “Klute” days, in this picture.
Makes sense, it was taken in the early seventies. She was about 35 years old.
My mom was just getting aquatinted with herself right around that time.
Divorcing my dad, getting out from under her Jackie Kennedy bouffant, becoming politically active, getting back into the workforce and finding her independence. Her musical tastes changed from Andy Williams to Bruce Springsteen.
She became a free spirit, a hippie of sorts.
I have a very different experience of my mom than my brother and sister.
I was the oldest. To me, growing up, my mom was a hard ass.
The disciplinarian. The enforcer. Strict but fair.
She made sure my Catholic School uniform skirt touched the floor when I kneeled.
She took me to see live theatre, which in turn got me hooked on live theatre.
She insisted I walk the one mile to and from my Catholic school every day, rain or shine. It was no big deal back then. ( I was the only one in the family that went to Catholic School all the way through grades 2-12)
She enrolled me in Girl Scouts so I could learn teamwork, sales and acquire some camping and outdoor skills.
(It barely worked)
She enforced a strict 7pm bedtime, even in the summer, when it was still light
She indulged my fear of the dark. She checked under the bed for monsters, never shut the door to my room after saying goodnight, and made sure there was a nightlight on in the bathroom.
She “locked” us outside in the summer with a kiddie pool bought with green stamps. (She made a game out of wetting the sheets with a sponge and putting them in the books) and prompted us to run through the sprinklers.
At noon she provided a lunch of bologna sandwiches and pitchers of Kool Aid.
At three, homemade Popsicles made from freezing grape juice in Tupperware Popsicle forms. All the neighborhood kids hung out at our house.
She sat with me, and nursed me back to health when I had Scarlett Fever at seven years old. She would walk up to my school every day and get my first grade schoolwork. I missed almost the entire year.
She washed my mouth out MANY times with soap for being sassy.
She made every holiday a big hoopla. Parades with red,white and blue streamers on our bikes, watermelon eating contests (with no front teeth) and backyard fireworks for the fourth. Egg hunts and clues that lead us to HUGE elaborate baskets for Easter. Imaginatively wrapped presents (my name in red licorice whips, my sister’s in Hershey’s kisses) under a giant tree whose every branch was lit, ornamented and perfectly tinseled. Elves on shelves and Gumdrop villages. Cookies and milk for Santa, who left a ridiculously nasty mess of ashes and wood on Christmas morning.
She never gave us soda, so I got to sidestep that addiction.
An addiction she did introduce me to was the Rose Bowl Flea Market and my wallet has been the thinner for it.
She made sure my dad bought me a swing set after I escaped to a neighbor to swing on theirs.
She gave me an appreciation of history and current events.
She sat me down in front of our black and white TV for the 1968 Democratic Convention and corresponding riots, the Watts riots, the March on Washington,the astronauts stepping foot on the moon for the first time, the coverage of Apollo 13 and the funerals of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. And Bobby Kennedy (for whom she campaigned).
Classic mom phrase: Pay attention, this is history!
She always had the Dodger game on in the background……always. Still does.
Vin Scully’s voice is like a natural sedative to me.
She gave me books and talked with me about sex. (funny story alert)
She made sure I did my homework, polished my shoes, loaded the dishwasher and made my lunch in my Partridge Family lunch box (sigh) every night before I went to bed.
Often she would write me a love note on my napkin and sneak it inside before I left in the morning. I felt love and embarrassment at the same time, so I threw them away. But I did thank her now and then.
(I wish I’d kept them all)
She taught me how to:
walk, talk, go potty in the potty, tie my shoes, ride a bike, tell time, read a book (I knew how to read before I entered kindergarten), change a diaper, burp a baby (my sister), set a table, say please and thank you, whisper, write a thank you note, braid hair, swim, roller skate, brush my teeth, paint my toenails, make chocolate chip cookies, wrap a present, embroider, climb a wall AND a tree, pick myself up and brush myself off, collect lady bugs, collect leaves for our silk worms, finish a puzzle, love cats, love food, love music, sing, clean a house, be on time, love the holidays (especially Christmas), weed a garden, trim a rosebush, body surf and love the beach. To name a few.
She thought I could DO anything and BE anything. She still does.
Thanks mom, I wouldn’t be who I am without you.
I love you.
Happy Mother’s Day!