Monday, May 9, 2016

my mother, my hero


i don't remember my mother being giant-sized when i was growing up.

i remember the chocolate chip cookies.
i remember saturday morning crepes.
i remember that one really bad goulash.
i remember books (the chronicles of narnia, the indian in the cupboard, the Bible, that other one i can't remember...).
i remember our cats.
i remember the time we came back from a weekend vacation to find that our closets (and all our clothes) smelled like the pot of beans she left on the stove...
i remember our "hunkering down" days, when she would unplug the phone (really the only way people could get in contact with you short of knocking on the front door, back then!) and draw all the window shades and we'd stay inside and do nothing but read.
i remember the pies.
i remember the big cups of water she'd take everywhere.
i remember her crying at all the sappy parts in movies.
i remember shapeless sweaters.
i remember her taking her glasses off to clean them on her shirt whenever she cried or basically all the time.
i remember evening walks around the st. edward's university track.
i remember asking her to help me with my pre-calculus homework and then watching her sit down to read my math book (and then i took it back and did it on my own).
i remember, too, when she got remarried and started to become "domesticated" (to a degree...she still didn't cook dinner), which is probably all she ever wanted.

my mom made her own kombucha and dried her clothes on a clothesline in the backyard before martha stewart made those things popular again. she was a fan of natural products (or really, no products), simple living and simple pleasures, long before that was ever a thing. she loved cappuccinos before starbucks was a household name. she didn't wear makeup (at all) or much jewelry. her favorite perfume was chanel no. 5, but she hardly ever wore it.

my mom would not have professed to be "good" at many things. she was absentminded. she was a slow grader (high school math teacher). she didn't like to cook. she always fell asleep when i was baring my soul to her.

but she was extraordinarily good at laughing.

today i looked in the mirror and saw my mother's face. i think i have her eye shape. i definitely have her jaw and smile and hair type. maybe her eyebrows too. and, i got her freckly, smile-line-wrinkled skin. i loved the crinkles around my mother's eyes. i thought she was so beautiful.

growing up, my mother was my bedrock. she was identity, safety, security, love, joy. she was home. but she wasn't mythic or epic-sized. she didn't have wings. she couldn't do everything.

i don't think it was until i was grown up that she became my hero. now i can't even comprehend the amount that she could and did do.

she raised me to be strong, independent, to take care of myself. in some ways, i've always thought that it was being the child of divorced parents that made me like that. now, i see it was just her.

she taught me to do my own laundry and pack my own school lunch at 13. she gave me an allowance and taught me to save for what i really wanted. (and then she endured my ceaseless obsessive talk of getting a dog for years before i finally did.) she held us while we cried after she told us about our cat dying at the vet (our pets didn't ever got to "the farm"). she believed we could do everything, but she didn't push me to do anything.

even though i feel sometimes like i see my mother's face in myself, what i hope i'll see is her — the mother that she was to me.

i have no idea what i'm doing on this motherhood ride. sometimes, yes, there are days—when dinner gets made, the kids eat all their veggies and give each other spontaneous hugs, my chores get done and i manage to exercise and do a little something on this blog—that i feel like i have it together. but then there are the other days, more often it sometimes seems, when i realize i am getting it all wrong. when i realize if i should read more parenting books and pray more desperately. when i doubt i'm up to this herculean task called raising children.

my mother made it look so easy. i think from her i got the desire to have children in the first place. she made mothering look fun. and even though i could do without all the new wrinkles spots i see on my face lately, and even though it's just a face, i feel bolstered by the idea that at least a little bit of her is in me.

i've struggled all my life with what i want to be when i grow up. but i've finally realized — all i want to be is my mom.

she was the ultimate, the best, the most beautiful and wonderful mother in the world.

i hope one day my children will think that even slightly of me.



  1. I love love love this B. I think you are more your mom than you know. She infused herself into you as she raised you and that's what you are now doing with your two beautiful, smiling kids. As I observe from afar, I see a lovely mom raising her children and I feel that I get to know your mom too even though I never got the privilege of meeting her. Happy Mother's Day to you!! I love you!

    1. you always know how to make me smile, Chelsea. <3 <3 <3

  2. Just lots of <3 <3 <3 <3 So beautiful and honest and lovely. <3 <3 <3