My Mother’s Daughter

 

It's not nagging; it's love!

Early in the morning, on the day my mother left this earth, she called me. It was not to tell me the secret of life, or ooze with gushy words over my greatness at being her daughter; it was to remind me to go to the financial aid office to make sure my paperwork for my student loan had been processed for the next semester. While she certainly remembered to end the conversation with an “I love you,” her call was a purposeful prompt for me to get things done. This wasn’t because she found me too incompetent to take care of my own shizz, because thanks to her, I’d been handling my own shizz for quite some time. Her final reminder was an example of who she was; a woman who endlessly worried about her children. I am SO my mother’s daughter.

On a daily basis you can hear me say such phrases as: “Did you eat lunch; what did you have?” “You have that paper due on the 11th; are you making note cards?” “Be careful at that blind turn on your way to school!” Do I think my daughters wouldn’t eat lunch, turn assignments in on time, or crash their cars without my input? Certainly not! I know, from my own experience, that after my mother’s death, I turned in papers in a timely manner, unplugged the coffee maker before leaving the house, and that I always remembered to not buy cheap bras, “because they’ll make your boobs sag!” Oh, but I missed her unnecessary input, and I still hear her voice at the crux of any decision I make.

Yes, I’m a serious nag, and during my daughter’s teen years, my advice and questioning was often met with eye rolls. Now my ceaseless guidance, in most cases, evokes a smile, because they know. They know that my badgering is one of the ways that I stay enmeshed in their lives. It’s one of the silly ways that I say “I love you,” and show that I care so deeply about them that I want even the most miniscule details of their lives to go smoothly. Even in my mother’s last hours, she was tangled up in the routines of my life. She was giving me orders that voiced her love and expectations of me. I am SO much my mother’s daughter.

Thanks, Mom!

Do you nag your children unnecessarily? Was, or is, your mom a nag?

 

Advertisements

Day 20: 31 Days of Blogging Honesty

 

 

 

 

Day #20 Question: The book that I read that has altered my perception of life is…

via hopeedelman.com

This is the question that I’ve had to put the most thought into. I am a voracious reader. Since January 1st I have read 32 books on my Nook and at least 10-15 non-electronic books. I feel like every book I read leaves me with something: a thought, a feeling, a lesson, an inspiration, or an answer. It’s really difficult to choose one book that embodies every qualification required to be life altering, BUT, since I have to pick just one, I’m going to choose, Hope Edelman’s, Motherless Daughters.

I read this book way back in 1994 shortly after it was published. At the time I read it, I had been motherless for nearly a decade. I lost my mother, when I was a junior in college, to a horrific disease called scleroderma. Returning to school after her death was a study in awkwardness among my mothered classmates who were unsure of how to address my loss. For years, I was unsure of how to address it myself. Outwardly, I remained my friendly, smiling, bubbly, responsible self, but on the inside I felt like an island with no bridges. In my early twenties, no one in my group of friends was motherless. I was an oddity, an outsider, who no longer had the gentle, guiding presence of a mother in my life. I smiled with eager, envious, interest as I listened to their tales of shopping trips, meals, holidays, and other excursions with their mothers. Those were things that were mine no more, and at times I burned with silent resentment, especially if they would forget and complain to me about some ridiculous fault that their mother possessed. To me, even a flawed mother was better than no mother at all.

Then one day, while browsing in the bookstore, I ran across Hope Edelman’s book, Motherless Daughters. Even before I’d finished reading the blurb on the inner cover, I felt my eyes brimming with tears. I bought the book, holed myself up in my bedroom for the day, and read the whole thing cover-to-cover. Edelman got me. Absolutely everything that I’d felt in association with my mother’s death was written on the pages of her book. Alone in my apartment, I think I cried to the point of dehydration that day, but when I was done I felt more whole, more healed and more understood than I had in years. I no longer felt alone; Edelman’s book built the first of many bridges that would reach my desolate island.

**On a more cheerful note: I’m heading to the beach tonight!!! I’ll be bringing my computer to check my blog, as well as my subscriptions. I may write a post or two if I have time. I might even post some pictures! I hope all of my readers have a safe and fabulous Memorial Day weekend and a wonderful week!

 

Day 15: 31 Days of Blogging Honesty

 

 

 

 

Day# 15 Question: If I had to spend an entire day as the opposite sex, I would look like _______ and I would spend the day doing…

I thought we had a good thing going. I can't believe you're NOT choosing me!

This question took a great deal of contemplation. Should I spend the day as the beautiful, talented Hugh Jackman, or as the equally gorgeous and super-hot Alexander Skarsgard? Though both would be dreamy to “wear” for the day, I think the man that I would most like to spend 24 hours as, would be my own very wonderful and very loving husband. Something magical happens when you love, and are truly and absolutely loved by, another human being. My husband’s love and kindness has made me a better, softer, more genuine person and my wish, while spending the day as him, would be to make his life a little bit easier. So, here’s my “To Do” list for my day as my husband.

1. Take care of a few uncomfortable situations at work: My husband is usually very happy with his job as one of the division heads of an engineering firm, but one thing he would rather avoid at work is counseling his employees when they exhibit not-so-stellar personal behavior. Though he performs effectively, he’s totally uncomfortable dealing with issues of a personal nature. Having spent the past 16 years as an educator, I’ve taken care of my share of unusual issues, so dealing with the next two problems would be a piece of cake for me!

a. Tammy and Jack: Tammy and Jack are two of my husband’s married employees. The problem is they’re NOT married to one another, BUT they spend their work days carrying on like they are. Last Wednesday they took their affair to the “next level” The problem is, that level was level #3 of the public parking area where their unsavory union in a company truck was witnessed by a mom and her twin toddlers. She hastily reported them to upper administration. Guess who upper admin has asked to counsel with a letter of reprimand this very morning? Yep, my poor awkward husband. Don’t worry honey—I’m on it!

b. John’s nut sack: (John is my husband’s employee) John is a fabulous engineer, but clearly not a fashionista. It has come to the attention of many, that John enjoys a commando lifestyle sans underwear. This would be all well and good if John’s pants fit him properly, but because his slacks tend to be on the snug side, people are complaining about the old trouser snake and his two very large companions. I have no problem with delivering the news that he needs to wear larger pants in order to not offend. Heck, I’ll even offer him the Kohl’s coupon that I got in the mail yesterday so that he’s guaranteed 15% off some new khakis.

2. See an allergist: The Allegra isn’t cutting it. My husband has sniffed, snorted and sneezed since the onset of spring. After I go, as him, to my allergist, Dr. Matthews, he’ll be breathing better in no time.

3. Check out the ol’ poop shoot: My darling husband is 54. This means that he is past due for a colonoscopy by four years. No matter how much I prod him to just make an appointment and get it done, he doesn’t listen. So during my day as him, I’ll endure a scope up my ass out of pure love for my hubby.

4. Do hard math just for the fun of it: Okay, I’ll admit, this one isn’t for him, it’s for me. All my life I’ve struggled with all types of math beyond Algebra I. I’m going to get out my daughter’s calculus book and solve at least a chapters worth of problems, just to see how it feels to actually understand what I’m doing!

Well that’s my day as the fantastic Mr. Sprinkles! Readers, who would you choose?

Day 2: 31 Days of Blogging Honesty

 

 

 

 

 

Question #2:  The most expensive item I have ever stolen is…

I wish I had a fabulously scandalous answer for this question, but I don’t. Unfortunately, for the sake of this topic, my life of crime is pretty limited. I’ve accidently put ink pens in my purse after I’ve signed credit card receipts. I once took a maxi-pad from a nearly full box that someone left in the cabinet of the ladies room at my old workplace (hey, it was an emergency), but I replaced it a week later. I’m typically a pretty honest person, and the only theft story I have is when I took a Tootsie Roll from a little mom-n-pop grocery store when I was five. It’s funny, I don’t actually remember the taking part of this tale, but I clearly remember the giving back part.

Chocolate Goodness!

The slow tearing sound of the waxed paper covering alerted my mother that I was up to something in the back seat of our old 1964 Buick Skylark. This was well before 5 year-olds were required to be strapped into pricey booster seats, or even fancy seatbelts, so I was probably sprawled out on my stomach across the seat as I tried to unwrap my secret acquisition as slowly as possible. I’d hoped to have my favorite chewy, chocolaty treat stuck between the crevices of my back teeth before my mother realized that I had clandestinely purloined it from the bottom shelf of the penny candy section of Mike’s Grocery. As I was about to peel off the last noisy bit of paper that confirmed my status as a Tootsie Roll thief, my mother, who was about to pull out of the parking lot, asked the familiar question, “What are you up to back there?” “Nothing,” I nervously assured her as I popped the candy into my mouth paper and all.

My mother never accepted “Nothing” as an answer from me. I was, after all, the kid who dug a muddy, four foot hole in the back of our perfectly landscaped yard while she was inside having tea with her friends from the garden club. I was the kid who, while at church last Sunday, had made a loud hooting sound, during silent prayer, just to hear it echo off of the endlessly high ceilings. I was also the kid who usually had a frowny face on the “Exhibits proper classroom behavior” section of my kindergarten progress report, so when I gave the answer of “Nothing,” my mother always investigated. Before I had time to swallow, she had turned around and pried the glommy goody from my mouth and wrapped it in a tissue from her purse. After a stern lecture on shoplifting, that included the threat of jail time, she placed the wet package in my small hand with a disappointed expression and quietly said, “You took this from Mike, now you have to return it, and apologize.” Mike, the store’s owner was a hulk of a man, whose white store apron usually had a bit of blood on it because he mostly worked behind the meat counter. I was scared of Mike and begged my mother to let me return the Tootsie Roll to his kindly wife Betty, but she wouldn’t budge.

I’ll never forget the fear jolting through my tiny body as my little legs trudged unwillingly back to the meat counter, nor will I disremember the humiliation of admitting my wrongdoing. I do remember Mike thanking me both for my honesty and for the penny, borrowed from my mother, which I handed over to him as compensation for my misdeed. I also recall that Mike didn’t seem as scary to me in subsequent visits to his store. In fact, he usually made a point of saying hello to me by name. I was never sure whether this was because he considered me a new found little friend, or because he wanted me to know that he was keeping an eye on me. So, as a reformed shoplifter, I’ll admit that the monetary value of the most expensive thing I’ve ever stolen was one penny; however the life lesson value was priceless!

You'd better keep your hands off of me, kids!

Never Marry a Guy you Meet While Making a Prank Phone Call (Part 1)

Here’s a confession; I turned 47 last week and I still delight in making a good prank phone call. I know it’s illegal, and that there are probably a million ways to get past *67 and wind up in jail. I do have a healthy respect for the law and admit that I am a little afraid of my local paper displaying a headline that reads: Former Teacher Jailed for Crank Calling Wal-Mart, but that doesn’t stop me. It’s a sickness.

My obsession with phone play began at the ripe old age of eight, the year my mother began to work outside of the home. Instead of coming home to cookies and milk at my own house, my new after school plan was to have a snack at my friend Laura’s house and hang out there until my mom or dad arrived home. I was delighted! Laura’s mom was a very cool psychotherapist who dressed in hippie clothes and didn’t make us do our homework the minute we finished our snack like my mom did. One day, after growing bored with roller skating in Laura’s driveway, we ended up in her mother’s downstairs sewing room. It was just a small, musty room with stacks of folded cloth, a rack filled with multi-colored thread, jars filled with buttons and an old Singer sewing machine. It seemed stuffy and boring until Laura showed me the green push button phone mounted elegantly on the wall. She informed me that it was a private line and asked me if I wanted to make some prank calls. Although it was my first time, Laura had an older brother and was a seasoned pro at cranking. In mere minutes we were scanning the skinny phonebook of our small town looking for our first victims. If your last name was Assweiner, Grossman, or Butts we called you. Once we ran out of interesting last names we started on the ‘A’s and went through nearly the entire phonebook. There were no lame classics in our repertoire like, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” we were much more creative than that, or so we thought. We had three main cranking themes. They were: “I’m Dating your Husband,” “ Radio Station WASS Giving you a Chance to Win a Date with Charlie’s Angels,” and “Little Girl Trapped at Pizza Hut Needs you to find Her Mommy.” I’ll use “I’m Dating Your Husband as an example of how our cranks usually went down:

Unwitting Victim: Hello

Me: (In my sexiest 8 year-old voice) Hi, I’m Natasha (a name I thought sounded super classy at the time) and I’m sorry to tell you that I’m dating your husband. (At this point Laura and I are snorting back giggles and nearly peeing our pants.)

Unwitting Victim: You G.D. kids stop playing on the phone! (Click)

Sometimes the victim was funnier than we were:

Unwitting Victim: Hello

Me: (trying even harder to sound sexy with my limited knowledge of sex) Hi, I’m Misty, (not a classy name, but it has its allure) I have big, big breasts (I only knew the proper names for body parts.) and I’m really, really sorry to inform you that I’ve been dating your husband.

Unwitting Victim: Well good for you, Misty. He’s an old asshole! You can have him! (Tons of honking laughter after that one!)

Our pranking went on for nearly an entire school year until I came up with the bright idea of calling Andy Gibb, the pop star that Laura and I were madly in love with. Tiger Beat magazine had long ago informed us that he had spent his childhood in Australia, so we decided there would be the perfect place to begin our quest. Little did we know that there was a charge for international directory assistance, as well as a very large fee for calling five people in Sydney with the surname Gibb. When the phone bill arrived, our after school game soon became doing yard work to pay Laura’s parents back.

After my punishment was complete, I soon found myself in a rigorous after-school tennis program. Yet despite my mother’s warnings of jail time and other wicked punishments for cranking, I still couldn’t quell the desire to hear those first few rings, to hear that innocent “hello” and to experience the first stifled snickers of my friends as they listened in. The phone was my drug, and I was its slave. As soon as I turned 13 and was old enough to watch my little brother after school, the cranking began again. Like any good addict, I taught my brother to make calls with me, that way I was assured in his not tattling to the parental units. My evil plot worked and we cranked our way through high school without getting caught. The summer after graduation, I left for my state’s university, tearfully handing our tattered phonebook over to my brother, making him promise to continue our sordid legacy.

You might think that the advent of college would mature me, and make pranking less enticing, but you would be thinking incorrectly. I was blessed with a roommate who was just as silly as I was, and one night while having a few friends over for drinks, we decided to make some prank calls. It was free to call any phone on campus so we each took turns calling different dorms. When it was my turn, my friend Kevin suggested I call a neighboring guys dorm and tell them I was a phone sex operator calling to see if I could provide any services. With four Pabst Blue Ribbons in my system, Kevin’s suggestion seemed the logical thing to do. Here’s my fuzzy recollection of that call:

Unwitting Dorm Guy: Hello

Me: (doing my fairly decent Marilyn Monroe imitation) Hello, this is Trixie. (Yes, I got the name from Speedracer.) I’m calling from the campus sex line to see if there’s anything at all that I can do for you, if you know what I mean. (Mind you, I’m still a gigantic virgin at the time of this call!)

Unwitting Dorm Guy: Our campus has a sex line?

Kevin: (butting in) Tell him you’ll toss his salad!

Me: Yes we have a really hot sex line, and (having NO idea what this means) I make a really, really good salad!

Unwitting Dorm Guy: You do?

Kevin: (butting in again) Tell him you want a Dirty Sanchez!

Me: (to Kevin) What’s that?

Unwitting Dorm Guy: Kevin? Is that you? Hey, is that Kevin Peters? Hey Kevin!

Me: Oh, Shit! (Click!)

Long story short: “Unwitting Dorm Guy” was, by a stroke of fate, one of Kevin’s friends. He, of course, wanted to meet the girl with the sexy voice. After Kevin assured him that I was basically a very good girl and not at all like my alter ego, Trixie, Kevin introduced us. “Unwitting Dorm Guy” eventually became my college boyfriend, my first husband and the father of my two daughters. Glean from my experience with prank calling any advice or cautioning that you wish. But, I will warn you, cranking is like heroin and I have an itchy dialing finger.

**Readers, I invite you to share your prank phone call stories in the comments section. (Yes, I do realize it’s my addiction asking you to do this!)

Memories of my Grandmother

 I got up early Sunday morning to spend the day with my grandmother who is in a nursing home.  It was her 95th birthday and I’ve always thought it wonderful that she celebrates growing another year older on the first day of spring.  When I was a little girl, Grandmother was never the huggy, snuggly cookie baking kind of grandma that you see on the Hallmark Channel.  In a time period where most grandmothers had spent their life taking care of only a family and home, my grandmother had been a shrewd businesswoman.   In addition to owning a slew of rental properties on the beach in Florida, she and my grandfather owned a bustling motel in a busy tourist town.  Back then the housekeeping staff was given Sunday as their day off and my mom, dad, and baby brother would help my grandparents clean the rooms as the guests checked out. Although I was only five when I first began helping, I was allowed to help dry the tubs and sinks, after my mom or dad scrubbed them.  I was also given the honor of placing a miniature bar of Ivory Soap in the soap dish on the sink and in the bathtub.  At five, nothing seemed more perfect to me than those tiny, deliciously clean smelling soap bars.  I would put my whole face in the cardboard box that held them and breathe in their sanitary goodness.  Each week I would beg Grandmother to let me take one home to put in my bathroom.  My mother would always intervene and tell me no. I thought I must have been the only kid in the world who broke out in a rash when they washed with Ivory Soap.  My reward for helping would usually be a glass bottle of orange soda from the motel’s Coke machine.  My granddad would let me put the fifteen cents in.  I would open the frosty glass door and grip the cold neck of the bottle, anxious for the metal clasps to release it.  Then I popped it open using the bottle opener on the side of the machine.  My mother didn’t really like me drinking soda.  I was one of those unfortunates raised on a very strict diet.   Luckily, mom bent her rule once a week as long as I promised to sit down while drinking it.  According to her, walking around with a glass soda bottle was dangerous. If I fell with a pop bottle in my mouth it could knock my teeth out, cut my lips beyond recognition, and possibly render me blind from the shards of glass that were sure to bounce from the pavement into my eyes.  I was a rule follower, so I sat on the wooden bench on the sidewalk outside of the lobby swinging my short legs and drinking every drop of my payment while I imagined how hard my life would be if I suffered a soda bottle injury.

 After the cleaning was finished we would stay for Sunday evening dinner.  Grandmother was an amazing cook, and she would always have the main dish simmering as we cleaned rooms so it would be easy to get dinner finished up when we were done.   I loved her roast beef the best.  She would cook it onions, celery and peppers,  slowly on the stove top until it was so tender you could cut it with a fork.  She’d serve it with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, creamed corn, and coleslaw.  It was a meal so delectable that I could have eaten it every day.  During dinner the adults would talk while my brother and I listened and politely ate our food.  This was a Sunday ritual that lasted throughout my childhood until my grandfather passed away and Grandmother sold the motel and moved into a little yellow house a few miles away.  Once this happened we spent Sunday afternoons helping to weed my grandmother’s garden, or doing other chores around her house while she made dinner.

As I grew up, Grandmother and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye.  She didn’t approve of the music I listened to, nor did she like the fact that I decided to stop piano lessons to be in plays.  I was also pretty certain that she liked my brother far better than me just because he was a boy and because he stuck with his piano lessons. I once asked my very affectionate mom why Grandmother didn’t seem to like me. She assured me that Grandmother loved me very much, but that she just wasn’t very good about expressing emotions.   There were times, though that we got along just fine.  She painstakingly taught me how to cook; a skill that I took to like a fish to water.  My remaining family swears that my mashed potatoes taste exactly like hers.  When my mother, her daughter, became terminally ill and I wanted to quit college to stay home and care for her, she dropped everything and moved into our home to serve as a round-the-clock nurse.  “A woman can’t be without a college education,” she insisted.  Two years later, as staunchly religious as she was, she didn’t judge me when I confessed to being pregnant a few months before I married my first husband.  She simply helped me plan my wedding in her calm steady way.

Now that she’s 95, she doesn’t remember who I am, and when she does have a small glimpse of memory she’ll ask how my long-dead mother is doing.  I always swallow hard to suppress the ache and, say, “fine.”  I’m afraid telling her that she’s gone could be like hearing it for the first time.  Now, my grandmother is far more affectionate when I visit her.  She hugs me hard and holds my hand.  The lines on her face that were once pinched with all of the worries that running several businesses can cause, have softened.  She is childlike and happy.  In her own world, she laughs and sings to herself  When we showed her the brightly frosted birthday cake made just for her, she reached out and took a piece with her hands, gleefully devouring each bite with gusto and licking the frosting from her fingers.  It was a pure moment, without rules, just the way life should sometimes be.