On Mother’s Day, we go out of our way to show our Mommas how loved they are and how much we appreciate all they’ve done and continue to do. Moms are caretakers, nurturers, drill sargeants, doctors, maids, teachers and spiritual guides. If you’re lucky like me, your Mom is also your best friend.
But I’ve told you all that before. I wrote a sappy tribute to my Momma last Mother’s Day. You’ll find writers giving their mothers sweet and loving tributes all over the blogosphere today.
I like changing things up a bit here at Hawleyville now and then. Luckily, I get my urge to march to the beat of my own drummer from both my parents. So Mom didn’t want another traditional tribute either. She wanted HER Mother’s Day blog to stand out a bit from the rest, just like she does. She wanted to keep it real.
My mother always put my sister and I first in her life. She was always there when we needed her. She gave me a love of books and animals. To this day, she still helps me believe I’m good enough to be whatever I want to be and chase any dream while still urging me to be happy with what I already am.
Lots of people can say those things about their mothers. But each family also has its own unique tapestry of memories, woven together to create something that is theirs and theirs alone. When it comes to motherhood, mine is a quirky but beautiful blend of colors – and here’s a few of the reasons why.
1. Many little girls grow up believing that the pee-standing-up thing little boys have going on is some strange and taboo mystery. My mom had no problem explaining the birds and the bees. She didn’t use made-up words, either.
I knew early on that a penis was a penis. Or a “peee-nis.” “Peee-nus.” “Peee-ni.”
Mom thought “penis” was a pretty word, and a fun one to say. She’d sing “pee-nis, pee-nus, pee-ni” like “Jingle Bells” or some lullaby. It was just a word, and she didn’t want me to be afraid to say it, or to be afraid of penises themselves. She made sure I had a healthy respect for the fact that the little buggers could give me diseases or knock me up if I wasn’t careful with them. She made sure I knew it was important to choose the one I played with wisely one day, but that I also realized that penises and any curiousity I had about them were a normal and healthy part of growing up.
So when I was older and found the one who made me ready to discover whether the thing itself was as entertaining as the word, there were no secrets from Mom. I could talk to her about the pros and cons of becoming sexually active. Rather than stick her head in the sand about it, she took me to discuss birth control with a doctor. I never had to feel judged or alone when I took that leap, unlike many of my girlfriends who were in the same boat.
2. Most moms will tell you that the boogey-man isn’t real. Mine told me he might be. She was so convinced that Jason Voorhees was alive and well and living in the woods near the house we rented for a vacation one year when I was a teenager that I started to believe it myself. You can read that story here.
3. We never had to clean our plates or eat at a certain time. Mom figured our bodies knew when they were hungry and when they’d had enough. We weren’t a “dinner table” family unless it was a holiday. Dad worked weird hours and had a lot of hobbies that kept him out at night, so meals were grab-and-go. For Mom and I, that was often tuna sandwiches or salads while we watched “Little House on the Prairie.” And pickles. Always pickles. A swig of pickle juice was a treat. We all thought so. Even her Great Dane loved the stuff. My niece still drinks pickle juice.
4. Mom was once a Peeping Tom, or I guess a Peeping Tina? She gave a little old lady a vacation memory that will surely last the rest of her life! You can read that story here.
5. The kindest, gentlest woman will turn into a fierce, ass-kicking lioness if you mess with her children. My mother was no different.
Unless what was messing with us was waterbugs or vampires.
One night when I was about 8, I happened to look at my wall light switch and saw a waterbug perched on it. The neighborhood we lived in had a waterbug problem, and although I was used to seeing them they still scared the crap out of me. I bolted out of bed and ran downstairs. Men are the default bug-killers, but Dad wasn’t home, so I went to mom and told her about the waterbug. She assessed the situation, went next door, and told our neighbor we needed his help because there was “an intruder in our home.”
Did my mention our neighbor was a cop?
At least with the waterbug, Mom ran for help. The vampires were a different story.
6. One night, I was again tossing and turning in my bed. Inside my closet was the door to the attic. I kept hearing a strange buzzing up there, along with a weird “thud.” I don’t know why I was convinced the culprit was a vampire, but I was. I again bolted out of bed and ran to my mommy, who was reading downstairs.
“Mom, there’s a vampire in the attic.”
I’d always had an overactive imagination. While Mom herself would later believe that Jason Voorhees was alive and well and hanging out at Deep Creek Lake, that night she wasn’t taking my leap of faith that one of Dracula’s buddies was chilling in our attic. But I wouldn’t give up, so she sighed, put down her book, and followed me upstairs. When we got to my room, there was nothing but the sound of silence. She tucked me back in and stood beside my bed for a moment, telling me to go to sleep.
Then we heard the buzz and the thud.
“See!” I cried, vindicated.
“Yep,” Mom replied, and turned and ran out of the room, leaving me all tucked up snug as a bug and ready for a vampire to munch.
So much for that lioness theory.
As it turned out, there were no vampires. The noise was coming from one of my battery-operated games, which for some reason was setting itself off.
7. My mother has worked out regularly all her life, and was even an aerobics instructor for a while. When I was a teenager, she had a trampoline that she’d set up in the living room and exercise while playing 80’s music. I can’t tell you how many times I saw my mother bopping and bouncing and getting airborne to the sounds of “Hungry Like the Wolf.”
I wasn’t the only one who saw the show.
My neighborhood friends and I usually hung out in my front yard in the evenings. Two of my closest friends were boys who were two years ahead of me in school. I thought they came to hang out with me because I was cool. Maybe that was part of it, but they timed their visits to coincide with Momma’s workout schedule. They’d watch her bounce and bop in the window with drooly teenage faces.
“Dude, your Mom’s HAWT.”
So NOT what you wanna hear as a 15 year old girl, lemme tell ya.
8. I’ve already told you about the penises penuses pen-is. Momma didn’t just say it or sing it. She had one that sat on our kitchen bar. A windup toy one with a little smiley face and feet. He hopped when you wound him up, much like she did on her trampoline.
He visited my neighbors once, too. You can check that story out here.
9. Mom has always been beautiful. Your guy friends don’t drool outside your living room window if you have an ugly momma bouncing on a trampoline. She’s tiny with huge brown eyes and eyelashes that most women would die for. People who meet us together have been surprised to find out we’re mom and daughter ever since I was a teenager – they just think she must be far too young to have spawned me. I remember guys hitting on us in a store in Ocean City once when I was about 16. They thought we were sisters.
But beautiful and photogenic are two different things. Neither me or my Momma are what I’d call photogenic people. Growing up, I used to hate getting pictures taken. I always thought I looked like a huge dork. I’d look at a picture of myself, and then look in the mirror, and get confused. I always struggled with self-esteem when it came to looks, but even with my lack of confidence I thought the girl in the mirror was a lot prettier than the one in the pictures. I prayed that it was the photos and not the mirror who was lying.
I was saved from fear of eternal ugliness by realizing the same could be said of my Mom. When I looked at pictures of mom and then actually looked at her, she was always ten times more gorgeous in person. Maybe there really was a vampire in the attic, and he’d made us part vamp ourselves. We could still TAKE photographs, we just didn’t look our best in them.
It is much easier to take a good pic the digital camera world of today. You can just snap away until you get one you like or can at least live with. But back then, you got what you got. And one day, Momma got a doozy. It was a close-up of her minus makeup, making a face I can’t describe.
My ex-husband used to joke with Mom. I’d tell the stories of the trampoline and all my friends thinking she was a cutie, and since he’d had the pleasure on many vacations of seeing both Mom and I stumble out of bed all hangover-ugly, he’d just say “ewwwwwwww.”
It got to the point that “ewwwww” was his standard greeting for Mom.
So when she got that picture, she mailed it to my house, addressed to him. It adorned our fridge for years.
10. For the last ten years or more, my mother has been my favorite bar buddy. We catch up on our lives once a week by hanging out at the pub for a few. During football season, we’ll usually get brave and venture up to the pub for at least one Ravens/Steelers game, cheering on our black and gold amidst a sea of purple. She cheers quietly – it is her bar and she loves all our Ravens fans. I love them too, but I’m also an asshole. I cheer loud and proud, and almost manage to keep up with my loud, obnoxious Ravens maniac of a boyfriend.
Mom has had a hearing aid for a few years now. The last Ravens/Steelers game we watched at the bar, the Steelers got their asses kicked hard. Pathetic was an understatement. We were subjected to all sorts of jabs, and of course there’s nothing we could do but woman up and take it. Then someone gave Mom a rambunctious hug and she lost her hearing aid.
Suddenly, we had Ravens fans crawling on the floor, combing the bar’s back yard, and even digging through the trash trying to find the damn thing. We searched and searched, with no luck. Mom was distraught. The Steelers had lost, she couldn’t hear out of one ear, and was looking at coming up with a buttload of money for a new aid. But in spite of the suckfest, it was heartwarming to see all those purple people crawling around trying to save her black and gold ass.
And then she got home and found the damn thing had fallen into her purse.
I could write more. I have books of Momma memories. But I think you get the picture. My Momma isn’t just a Hallmark card vision of the nurturer. She’s my drinkin’ buddy now, and although I didn’t know it then she was the original MILF for my hormone-happy neighborhood friends. She can poke fun at herself and has read and watched enough creepy stories to believe in things grownups don’t think are real – she also believes in gnomes and fairies, by the way, and not just shot fairies. She taught me that while I should fear Jason, I should never be scared of a penis, and that while “anything boys can do girls can do better” might be true, it never had to include killing my own creepy-crawly bugs.
Happy Mother’s Day, all. Take a moment to think of those wonderful quirks that belong to your mom and your mom alone – they are what make up the story of your childhood. And feel free to share them here!
And in case you haven’t had enough, here are a few of my Momma’s other Honorable Mention Moments:
Note: My weekly post is early this time around so that I could have this up for Mother’s Day. There won’t be a Tuesday post this week, but I’ll return to my regular Tuesday schedule next week!