Archive | April, 2011

The Rescue

27 Apr

Mothers have a natural ability to suddenly change their plans or direction. This flexible mother might have to cancel lunch plans due to her child’s sudden strep throat, create an outfit for the required chorus concert attire her daughter forgot about, or stay in because she grounded her son. I had thought about tonight’s blog post early today when a colleague mentioned something her mother was doing for her. I had it all thought out. And, I also envisioned enjoying a calm and warm summer evening while watching my son play baseball. But, that all changed when I received my daughter’s frantic phone call. She had miscalculated her timing and was 15 minutes late for her first lacrosse referee job—and couldn’t find her ref. whistle. So, just as mother’s do when the strep culture shows bacteria, I changed my plans. I found someone to drive my son home, flew off of the bleachers, ran into my car and drove my daughter to the game. Just like the mom unimagining the special sushi rolls she is going to order for lunch, I took myself out of tonight’s baseball bleacher line-up. And, I immediately changed my blog post for tonight.

I know there are times my mother made similar sacrifices and times she chose not to!  And, that’s okay too-deciding not to change plans. I’ve mentioned how I spoke with my mother almost every day and often more than once a day. This crazy night would have necessitated an immediate phone call, “Mom, you wouldn’t believe….” It’s actually one of those stories that seems incredibly crazy at the moment. You just can’t believe how you had to change your plans. But, really, it’s just a fleeting, ordinary mother moment. And, it’s a story that hardly anyone except your mom would appreciate. On a night like this, I do wish I could call up my mom and tell her all about it. She’d sympathize and then probably recall a similar situation. We’d end up laughing about how motherhood is full of unpredictable events and constant compromises.

I’m sure you’ve had a similar occurrence, perhaps today or this week. Which of your plans were changed and how did you handle it?

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Road Trip

25 Apr

This is destined to be a repeated theme—the road trip to explore college choices. I imagine it conjures up all sorts of memories of time spent with your mom. Or, was your dad your college visit companion? Or, did you not visit colleges because of your mom (and/or dad’s) history, philosophy, etc.?

This is a timely topic that surfaced when my daughter and I visited colleges this week. My most vivid memory of my own college road trip is the one that just my mom and I took to tour Cornell. I still remember thinking she was a great sport—she helped set me up to stay in a dorm and get the full experience. She did not mind being left on her own as I hung out with Cornell students—getting to know their college culture, eating the amazing Cornell food and “traying” down the snowy hills. Yet, the most memorable part of our trip was the ride home-through a huge snowstorm. I can still picture the highways in a state of complete white-out. I do not know if my mom was as frightened as I was, wondering if we could possibly get home safely. She was a great driver and must have stayed calm because it’s my own shivering that I recall. What a trooper she was—taking me on such a long journey, staying alone in a hotel and navigating a dangerous drive home. Teenagers are often unappreciative of their mom’s efforts and I often modeled that stereotype, but I think she knew how grateful I was for that trip.  Cornell did take away some of my pride when it did not accept my application; yet, that disappointment could not take away the great road trip with my mom

Fortunately, this recent college road trip was much easier—a plane ride with some long, but picturesque driving. I also stayed alone in a hotel, but found great music and food to enjoy on my own. I did not suffer, in fact I felt indulged. Maybe my mom did too. I can only hope!

I know that we have a long road ahead with the entire college process and just hope that we continue to create great memories. What do remember about college exploration with your mom? Or, if your dad was your research partner, why was it him and what involvement did your mom have? How do (or did) you plan to make the experience with your child similar or different? How can we use this special time to cement the good relationship we want with our own children?

Hagafen time

20 Apr

Holidays are certainly a time when we feel the loss of family and friends.  I have a couple of vivid Passover stories—I am choosing the humorous one to share. . The first thing that I think of when I recall my mom on Passover is having four cups of wine.  This might make her sound like a lush (urbandictionary.com), but she was not—really. Perhaps because she did not drink on a regular basis or simply because she became giddy at the seder, her four cups of wine were a focal point at our seders.  We teased her throughout the seder. She once made the mistake of asking “Is it Hagafen (Hebrew for fruit of vine”  time? So, our standing joke was telling her when it was that time again. I still picture us gathered around our dining room table, getting close to the next cup of wine and giggling over “Hagafen time.”  I remember the year she decided we should follow the Lubavitch guidelines because they mandated 3.5 ounces per glass during the seder. What an excuse—getting tipsy during the seder was not her idea or desire- it was a religious custom that she chose to follow.

What parts of a holiday make you miss your mom the most? What are the most defining memories of your mother during Passover and Good Friday? Passover brings a bittersweet sadness since it is a time I wish my mom could join me in all of the prayers and stories and together say we would say, “Hagafen.”

Couponing, but Not Extreme

18 Apr

After hearing the promotions for TLC’s new show, Extreme Couponing, my children excitedly announced that there’s finally a show made for me! Of course they did not want me to audition for fear that I would be the next guest star! After watching it, we can all relax. My couponing prowess is not nearly extreme enough.  Perhaps these women would  commend my efforts, but I am sure I would not be accepted into their tribe. However, more important than their approval, I know my mom would be proud of me. I wish my mom could see this show—she would get such a kick out of it. Even though she was more coupon-obsessed than I am, thankfully I think she would not even want to be considered competition for their couponing.

I do give my mother credit for teaching me how to shop economically. Like the women on this show, she planned her trips to the supermarket, with coupons organized and ready for use. But, she only bought items that she would buy anyway without discounts, and she wisely bought reasonable quantities. I do not know why I chose this as one of her habits to adopt. We all know that although daughters try to resist adopting their mother’s idiosyncratic behaviors, they do embrace many anyway.

I will continue to coupon as my mom did and I am glad ours is not an extreme addiction. Which of your mom’s habits have you adopted? How do you feel about it? Do you embrace it or find yourself resistant and maybe even embarrassed? How do you feel about coupons? Is your attitude toward coupons similar to your mom’s?

Holiday Time

14 Apr

Sharing events that invite mother/daughter participation are  bittersweet for me. I love to see my peers with their moms and sometimes with their daughters also, enjoying an event that involves 2 -3 generations of women in their family. My immediate reaction is, “I wish my mom was here to enjoy this together.” Fortunately, at my Temple’s Women’s Seder tonight, my memories took hold and brought me back to a special event my mom and I attended while I was a teenager. We toured the Lower East Side of New York with our Temple’s Sisterhood. It was a different Temple and different type of event, but engendered the same warm feelings of Jewish cultural history and holiday preparation. As if it was yesterday, I remember standing in the basement of the Kosher winery, being treated to a sip of sweet wine and learning how it is made all year-long. We visited (but did not immerse ourselves in) a Mikvah. Along the way, we stopped for the usual pickle and deli treats. These shared experiences really do last a lifetime!

As the Passover holiday arrives, I will be reminiscing (and writing) about the spending the holiday with my mom—and the one year she and my dad were away and left me without family. Holiday and religious celebrations are family time and absolutely leave me missing my mom and my dad. So, this is when I look at my family now and treasure each shared moment, making sure that the holidays provide us with good feelings and long-lasting, forever memories.

What holiday memories do you have? If you are motherless, do you feel especially sad during holidays? How do you make your memories last, what memories do you bring to your holiday table?

Moms: A driving force

12 Apr

I wish my mom could drive me now! My mom liked driving and we had a standing family joke about her speed—we would tell her when we wanted to arrive at our destination and she’d make it happen. Tonight I was reminded of her Mario Andretti-efforts as I battled traffic to get my son to his soccer practice on time.

My mother did not learn to drive until she was over 30 years old, when we moved to NJ from Brooklyn in 1966. She caught on very quickly and, like me, liked the control and freedom of driving. I am the primary driver on family road trips and, while I never thought about it before, my mom was probably a driving force for me. It’s easy to become comfortable driving when your mom is!

Especially for our mothers’ generation, driving was a male-dominated activity. Even now, we expect “the man” to be behind the wheel. I think driving was one of the activities that helped my mother feel and become independent. So, I am glad to take yet another one of my mother’s traits on the road!

Who is/was the main driver during your childhood? How are your driving habits like your mom’s (speed, comfort, radio choices)?

 

Other mothers

10 Apr

If you have or had a close relationship with your mom, then you know that desperate daughter desire for your mom’s advice. I often find myself wondering and assuming what advice my mother would give me. I imagine she would tell me about the time I had a major fit over homework and the details would help me get through my own childrens’ drama. Or, she would remind me how stubborn I was. She might give me the push I need to be less lenient. But, sometimes, my own thoughts are just not enough. Luckily, just like the contestants on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, I reach out to my lifelines. I really do feel fortunate to have “other mothers” to call upon. Some of these women take on their role with full intention, reaching out to me and drawing me in. Others just happen to be great role models, relatives or friends who inspire me.

I must admit that these other mothers provide a perfect combination of support and caring without the baggage that comes with real mothers. They have their own children for the nitty gritty: worrying about your mom, helping her with health and all sorts of issues, listening to criticism and complaints, etc. I will continue to say that I’d take all of that baggage in a second to have my own mom. Yet,these other mothers are also a blessing in my life. A few weeks ago I phoned one, a best friend’s mom, for parenting advice. I needed and got both her ear and a dose of reality-driven and time-tested suggestions. Yesterday I spoke with another, an aunt, who provides that family history connection while chatting. Unfortunately, she has serious health issues, so she even provides me with cause for worry.

These women and the “others” will make more appearances in my posts since they are integral parts of my life. I have grown to depend on them as I would my mother.

Who are your other mothers? Even if your mother is still alive, you might have other women who nurture and maybe even pamper you. Perhaps there is someone who helps you in just one aspect- work, home, marriage, children. That’s the really neat thing about other mothers- they are not all-encompassing. Their involvement in our lives might be compartmentalized or limited.  In any case, we are so lucky to have them in our lives!

 

The Lipstick Tree

7 Apr

I love lipstick. It completes an outfit or can even change a whole look. Just when I’m getting bored with my current colors and feel the urge to experiment at a cosmetics counter, I picture my mother’s lipstick tree. Yes, she had a whole Charles of the Ritz lipstick tree sitting on her dresser. There must have been 50 different shades of lipstick available at all times! Pink, red, peach, mauve, shear or opaque, she had colors to match any mood or outfit. How lucky was I! My father worked for a cosmetics company and my mother took full advantage of the perks. As a little girl who loved clothes and make up, I was mesmerized by this tower of colorful tubes. I’m pretty sure I got in trouble at least a few times for trying on too many colors, smearing them all over my lower lip and making a mess.

I will always associate lipstick with my mom because of the display on her dresser. I do think that I’d love shopping for lipstick anyway, it’s in my genes! But, I get an extra kick and often a spontaneous smile walking by cosmetics counters.

Do you have a special make-up memory made more special because of your mom? What objects do you remember from your mom’s room?

 

Happy Birthday Scott

5 Apr

This post is dedicated to my husband. After all my loss is really our loss. While I am sure many men might sometimes wish they were mother-in-law-less, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be! Today is my husband’s birthday, a perfect example of when it would be wonderful to have a mother-in-law. Scott and I both know that my mother would have sent him birthday wishes and a present. When our children were younger and needed a babysitter, she would have offered to come over so we could go out to dinner. Her presence would help make his birthday a little more special.

When our friends make snide and often facetious remarks about their mothers-in-law, you can just tell that they love having a mother-in-law to make fun of. Often their complaints seem more like tales of endearment. “I turn my phone off when I run an errand for her. Otherwise, she’ll call and change her request 5 times….She asked me to shovel the driveway and then yelled at me for not being inside to eat the pancakes she made.” So, I guess I even wish my mom was here to give Scott fodder.

Actually, Scott and my mom really liked each other. It makes sense that he was enamored with her entrepreneurial spirit and antiques business. He, more than I, initiated discussions about collecting antiques and insisted on joining her at auctions.

As tradition dictates, Scott called her before proposing to me. He was really good at including her. And my mom can even take some credit for our relationship—two times when I was ambivalent about going on a date with Scott, I asked my mother’s advice and both times she led me to the right decision!

Who in your life is most impacted by your mother or the loss of your mother?  What would your husband miss or what does your husband treasure most about your mom?

 

Sending out the S.O.S

3 Apr

Who doesn’t like to be fussed over, even once in a while? Having someone worry about you can be bothersome, but it can also be kind of nice, making you feel loved and wanted. Mothers are both famous and notorious for fussing and worrying.

I was reminded of this motherhood ritual the other day when a friend described her mother’s reaction to her recent and very minor injury. She fell while running and walked away with some scrapes and bruises. She took a day off from running, but then got right back on the road, as diehard runners will do. In the meantime, she told her mom about her travail. Within hours and for the next few days, a few relatives and family friends called her to inquire and express concern. All of this attention for a very minor injury! Instead of being annoyed with having to explain all of this each time a call came in, my friend found her mother’s reaction humorous and touching.

When my mother first passed away, I had some very selfish thoughts. I wondered who would worry about me. Who would check on me when I have a cold?  Who, besides my mom, would pick up on that certain tone in my voice, signaling concern?  Adult daughters have some of the same awkwardness as teenagers– we want someone to look after us and help us, but we do not want to be bombarded with questions and comments. We want our mothers to fix us tea when we don’t feel well, but without drowning us!

When is it okay for our moms to send out an alert of our distress?  At what point does their worry become a nuisance? ! Fortunately, I can count on close friends to check up on me, fuss over  and even worry about me. Who, besides your mom, checks up on you?