Archive | May, 2011

Pomp and Circumstance

31 May

Susan's Graduation, 1981

This spring is blooming with special family events: an awards dinner, a family trail run, a junior prom, a graduation, and more to come. My nephew’s graduation from Swarthmore College this past Sunday might top the list, so far. I imagine, though, that if I could attend his twin brother’s graduation from Carlton College, it would tie for first place.  We’ve known that Swarthmore is unique and special ever since my sister decided it would be her alma mater.  We attended this year’s ceremony which, incidentally, has not changed much since my sister and brother –in-law graduated. Just as my mom, dad and I did 30 years ago, we all sat mesmerized by the inspirational and humble speeches. We learned and laughed so much that the 2+ hour ceremony seemed to take only a few minutes.

I wish my mom could have been with us  May 31, 2011 just as she was on May 30, 1981. She would have been beaming as Jordan, her grandson whose company she loved, received his diploma.  She would have reveled in the legacy that my sister and brother-in-law created. And, she would love, as I do, the family bonding that takes place at such gatherings. That’s what it is all about anyway—the family coming together to celebrate an individual (super impressive one….), each other and the family dynamic.

What celebrations do you have this spring? How do you manage to make sure all of the family feels important while celebrating individuals? What aspect of your celebration is unique and different from other family functions?

Junior Prom

27 May



What a spectacular night—then and now.  I remember thinking about how pretty my dress was and planning how much time I would spend curling my hair. And, I loved my blue sandals! Really. 

Thirty years have certainly changed the look, but not the feeling. The girls going to last night’s junior prom looked like they walked right out of glamour magazines. They prepped for hours, but not at home—at salons. They sparkled from head to toe.

This right of passage is timeless and touching. It’s hard to hold a camera steady while tearing up. On my way to take my daughter to the salon, I felt so fortunate to be with her. I realize that we are so lucky to have each other and be able to share these moments. I am lucky to have shared so many of my special events with my mom. Certainly, I wish my mom could be here to see her granddaughter on any ordinary day and especially on days such as this. I can’t even imagine how she would contain herself. Well, actually, I will imagine and that helps create a warm smile. 

Spring time is often prom time and a great opportunity to reflect on the past. Did you go to your prom? Do you have a daughter primping for her prom? What feelings do these memories and moments inspire for you?

Cosmetics and the Car

23 May

It often seems that my own behavior or mispronunciation (Great Adventures post) mimics my mother’s. Yet in our recent family car ride, my very own daughter reminded me of my mother. In fact, I lectured her with almost the same speech my father gave my mom—as she applied make up on our way to visit relatives. We might have even been on the same part of the NJ Turnpike as mascara and eyeliner were applied. “It is not safe, don’t put that near your eye while we’re moving….” I recall my father being even more horrified than I was, worrying about my mother poking out her eye! But, my daughter took this make-up session to a new level—opening the window to dispose of the shavings while sharpening her eye pencil Crazy.

Growing up, I thought this was more of a woman vs man issue. My mother was often late in getting ready and leaving the house. It made sense that she might have to finish her make-up in the car. I thought my father just did not understand a woman’s dependence on make-up and need to be perfectly coiffed before entering most social gatherings. Even my dad who worked for a major cosmetics company (Lipstick Tree post), did not empathize with a make-up obsession.

But, of course that was not the case at all. “Use all the make-up you want in a stationary spot”, he should have said. And, that is exactly the message I gave my daughter on route to dinner in NYC.

I must imagine that either you remember a similar make-up or car safety issue from either your mom or yourself. What was the transgression?  Is it a mother’s job to teach us how to use make-up and when to apply it?  How often do you apply make-up in the car? If driving, should the “no texting” law include “no make-up application”?

Go Girl

15 May

After today’s inspirational Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for the Cure, I couldn’t wait to write this post. What a great, very pink day! The run through the South Mountain Reservation was beautiful and invigorating despite the drizzle. But, the most captivating part was the crowd remembering women who lost their cancer battle and celebrating those who survive. A speaker, Hoda, a cohost on the Today Show gave an inspirational speech, reminding us that each day has a huge and meaningful impact on our lives. She convinced me that any change I want to make in my life starts with what I do today, tomorrow, the next day….

My mother reacted to cancer the way these inspirational women did—she decided to not be scared and to fight with both physical and emotional strength. She read books about using emotional tools to heal and she found experimental treatment to try as a last resort. When she (or more accurately, the doctors) thought she was cured, she tried to move on and actually moved to a new state, starting over.

At the very least, I wish my mom could have walked or run in a race to the cure (isn’t that what she did during the years she was sick, anyway). But, rather than dwell on that obvious feeling, today I felt the power of the people at the race. And, I wonder what charities you have supported with, not just money, but energy?

White Before Memorial Day

10 May

I am wearing white pants and shoes today and I wish I knew what my mom would say! While I am curious and even a bit uncomfortable not knowing her opinion, I do believe that I would still be wearing white today even if she was here to shake her head, showing disappointment. That’s the sort of relationship we had, especially as adults. While I continued to seek my mom’s opinion (even about such “trivial matters” as clothing), by the time I was 18ish, I did my own thing anyway.  I often and vividly recall the time she did not like the pink items I put together. How could she not understand that I didn’t care—it was and is my favorite color and, therefore, I claimed poetic license for pink in my wardrobe—anything goes. Yet, like many daughters, I did desire her approval. I can’t remember all of the instances, but I do hope we were mostly in agreement.

Back to the white dilemma–would she be flexible in fashion? Would she stick to outdated societal standards? Would she be progressive and embrace Michelle Obama and the current freedom in fashion? 

My white dilemma might generate memories of your mother’s rules of etiquette or need to conform to societal standards. Did your mother wear white before Memorial Day? Do you? What social “norms” did your mother adhere to? Possibly even more interesting, which did she ignore or protest? And, how did this affect you then? Now?

It’s All About Me

8 May

I celebrated my birthday yesterday and Mother’s Day today and yet I wish this weekend was NOT all about me! Without having my mother to share these days, they end up being more about me—I do not get to share the attention.  Without a mom or mother-in-law, Mother’s Day is a simple family day for me. It passes more easily than my birthday. Interestingly, I have found similar feelings among a few friends whose moms have also died—we miss our moms more on our birthdays than on Mother’s Day. It makes sense, though.  Which came first? Which day enabled the other (our moms might not have been mom without us). I always felt such a strong and close connection to my mother on my birthday. In some ways it was our day. While she did not shower me with huge gifts or celebrations, she was always the first to inquire about my plans, the one to make sure that I had plans and the last to check on my day. Sure, she made me an amazing Sweet 16 Party—in our backyard with the most delectable homemade foods that I chose, including the sweet and fruity ambrosia she made that day. But, it was really the little things that made a mark, including making sure everyone knew to say happy birthday.

Mother’s Day brings so many mixed feelings. First, I try to avoid  (what seems like a trillion) people who ask what I’m doing. Those who do not know me well and do not know about my mom, make an assumption that my plan is like theirs-a meal with mom. I find the discussions about this day’s celebration almost annoying. Why does the day have to be full of obligatory and plans? I do have more freedom than most of my friends on Mother’s Day—without a mom or mother—in-law to plan for. But, do not be envious. How I wish I could “suffer” through the brunch, lunch and/or dinner we’d have to honor them!

It’s ok to be sad for me on these two days, but let’s not dwell on what we do not have. Instead, if you and your mom can share even a few moments on your birthday or on Mother’s Day, enjoy your time with her. I like to think that this “Hallmark Holiday” forces us to share those clichéd good times together.

There are so many questions to ask you and I hope to continue this conversation. To start, if you could (or do) celebrate only one of these days with your mom, which would you choose? Which day strikes you as a day you really need (or wish you had) your mom? And, of course, why?

The Bronx

4 May

I wish my mom could have been part of my conversation tonight. She would be so proud! Sitting on the bleachers during my son’s baseball game, a friend and I were chatting about many things and discussed where we grew up. When she told me she is from The Bronx, I immediately thought about how much emphasis my mom put on the very important article, The, before Bronx. Actually, it is important because that is the proper name, my mother used to assert. I was touched by my friend’s allegiance to her “hometown” and it struck a special soft spot since my mother also defended the name and spirit of The Bronx. This friend added some trivia that my mother would have enjoyed—the fact that there are only two other places in the world that have a mandatory The preceeding the name. And, they are very important places, indicating that The Bronx can be placed on the same VIP list.

You never know when thoughts and conversations will come up that make you remember your mom and recall your or her past. I started the day not knowing what I would write in the post and, as it turns out, I did not have to brainstorm. Afterall,  if we, even if we are “motherless,” allow our mothers to be part of our thoughts and existence, we are likely to make connections constantly.

What aspect of your mom’s past did she feel strongly about? Did she have allegiance to her hometown and why?

One Fourth

1 May

I am about to use one of my mother’s ingenious methods for making sure that my family shared prized items. She used it for dessert, yet I am going to adapt it to lox! Until my mother implemented this solution, we struggled with arguments over who had more of my mom’s Wacky Cake. The cake is a delicious and light chocolate cake that is made with a wacky ingredient (worth a separate blog entry in the future) and we would finish almost the whole cake after dinner. That is where the problem came in. Sometimes my sister, mother and I would not choose to eat much cake after dinner, but my father always had extra dessert room. So, when the I was about ten, my mother started cutting the cake into 4 pieces. Thus, we could eat our quarter any time we wanted. There was no pressure to finish our assigned piece, no more reason to hurry before my father finished every crumb.

We do have similar issues in my family now. Usually it all works out, but the struggle ensues. However, the star, most wanted food is lox! It seems that as soon as I open the package, it’s almost all gone. I have observed one or two members of our family taking piece after piece, without obvious regard for others who might want just a little lox sandwich?  I am often afraid that if we don’t each eat lox right away, we won’t get any at all.  So, next time I buy a package of lox, I will divide it into 4 portions. Each of us will be allowed to eat from our portion only, but with an “expiration date” so that all of the portions are consumed before they spoil!

I wish I could tell my mom how her wacky cake procedure will help eliminate my family’s stressful lox consumption! What unique and useful tips/tricks have you adopted from your mom?