I had to laugh this week when I posted about kissing the boys at church camp and my mom left a comment saying that I was ‘grounded’ – which is truthfully turning out to be kind of a bummer. See, we only had a one story house growing up when I’d be grounded so sneaking out of my bedroom window was really no big deal. But now I live in a 2-story house and I’ll be damned if it isn’t a pain the ass to jump down from my bedroom ladder each time I want to leave the house AND figure out how to sneak three kids out with me.
I promise not to ever kiss a 10 year old boy again mom.
So I decided the only way to get back at my mom was to post this picture of her from 1976.(Payback for the haircut you gave me...)
Yo Disco Queen. Do The Hustle… I’m not exactly sure what a 4’11″ Catholic white girl from Duluth was doing with a ‘fro – but the pointed pink collared shirt kind of made it work. Kind of.
I also tried to find a few pictures just of my mom and me. This was the only one I could find. Although I’m not sure if that is me or if my mom was actually on the set of Family with Kristy McNichol.
OMG I’m a lesbian. I’m so happy.
I also found this picture of the three of us. I’m assuming that they had my mom sitting on phone books for this picture because I’m pretty sure we were both taller than she was by the time we were 10. I call this picture “Dorothy Hamill and Her Offspring” for obvious reasons.
I often wonder if moms in the 1970′s worried about doing this parenting thing all wrong. I doubt it. I think they had their own lives and identities(besides that of ‘mom’) and just made sure we were loved, clean, fed, housed, safe, nice, educated and well-mannered and just let the rest fall into place. I remember my mom taking us on a few trips and on a few visits to the zoo and of course forcing us to sit through church. I remember my mom trying to show me how to do a cartwheel and throwing me in the pool and yelling ‘now swim!’ and lacing up my skates when it was 20 below zero. But she never took me to an organized music class or story-time and never set-up a play-date with anyone. Instead she played The Carpenters, Helen Reddy and Beatles 78s while we cleaned the house all together, she read The Saggy Baggy Elephant Golden Books to me, and would open up the front door and yell ‘now go out and play!’
I read so many stories of motherhood now with all of us wondering if we are ‘doing it right’ and agonizing over decisions that seem so big at the time while you know in a few years you will look back and think ‘my god that was such a small blip.’ I know we don’t get there without experience so I’m glad I’m finally learning. I’m not the same mom I was four years ago when I agonized over Eloise’s kindergarten and I dare say I’m embarrassed of that mother now.
My mother was not a perfect mother. None are. She didn’t agonize over our school choices(but she expected good grades), we didn’t take extra lessons of any kind, she wasn’t a big reader, and I’m sorry but my mother could not bake an edible chocolate chip cookie if her life depended on it. She didn’t volunteer at our school – and I never asked her to, she worked full-time, but she was the first to volunteer as our Brownie leader when no other parents would and I’ll be damned if our Brownie troop didn’t earn about 48 badges that year.
But she taught her children to be fiercely independent, to live an earnest and honest life, to work hard, to live by the Golden Rule, to fight for what you believe in, to always be there, and to laugh. She is still my biggest cheerleader and the first to give me a kick in the ass when I need one. My mom is one of the funniest people that I know. She’s sarcastic, witty and self-deprecating. She’s the first to lighten the mood, and every day that we talk on the phone the woman cracks me up.
My mom is my heavy – all 4’11″ of her – she will kick your ass like nobody’s business and then immediately afterwards tell you a story that will make you pee your pants.
My mom is a social worker. I think people who choose this type of career are some of the best of the bunch. They are the ones who are always helping someone else, they are the best listeners, and they open their hearts up daily to other people’s pain.
I don’t want my kids to think I’m perfect. I want them to know that I’m human and I struggle, but I also want them to remember that I laughed a lot. I want them to know that I make mistakes and bad decisions, but I want them to know that I took risks and chances. I want my kids to know that I was/am there for them, but I want them to know that standing on their own two feet is even more important. I want my kids to be happy. Isn’t that really what we all want for everyone.
I see that now as an adult daughter – that no matter the love, the fights, the jokes, the groundings that my mother gave me during the past 43 years – in the end she really just wants me to be happy. And I see she hurts when she thinks that her kids aren’t. I get that now. And as a mom, boy is it hard to watch your kids hurt. But sometimes that is all you can do.
Sometimes I think about how much I hurt my mom 25 years ago. I was defiant and angry. I starved myself into even more unhappiness and eventually I just left home.
My mother is a forgiving type though and within a few short years we became close again. But it wasn’t until I became a mother that I really understood what my mother wanted for me. It wasn’t to control me or guide me or judge me or protect me – it was simply for me just to be happy.
As my daughters now approach their preteen years I need them to know that I just want them to be happy. And to laugh more. I keep my blog lighthearted because one day I want my kids to know that laughter and humor have always been important to me – and it’s a legacy passed down from a long-line of funny women. Nobody had a laugh like my grandmother. So I’m sharing the heavy on Just Be Enough today. It’s a story I’ve never told except for a small excerpt on my blog last year. But maybe one day my kids will read this and realize how much they have really saved my life. Motherhood changed my life forever. And that’s no joke. I would love if you would visit me there today.
And Mom – Happy Mother’s Day. I hope you know how much you mean to me…even when I make fun of your white tennis shoes. I promise to bake a batch of cookies when we come visit in July. Oh, and am I happy? I think so. xo