Tag Archives: help

She Told Me So

26 Dec

I had a great, serendipitous moment last weekend when I was perusing Parade Magazine and stumbled upon one of my mom’s pet peeves.  I happened to see Marilyn Vos Savant’s column (http://bit.ly/RgC8WI) and the question, “My friend and I disagree about whether it’s okay to use fabric shears to cut wrapping paper…Can you settle this for us?”  I recalled (fondly now since my annoyance over these admonishments has diminished over time) the reprimand my mom would give if she thought we were using the “kitchen scissors” for fabric or the “fabric scissors” for paper, etc. Ms. Vos Savant explains the actual scientific reason for making sure that the fabric scissors’ blade does not get dulled by cutting paper.   I actually never doubted my mom’s scissor-use guideline and have always tried to use scissors for their published purpose.  In fact, if you have read many of my blog posts, you would know that I often feel my mom’s presence in my life  because I follow many of her lessons.

This little tip sparked a reminiscence of more good tips from my mom:

First, one that my family notices and questions – using your wrist not your hand to check someone’s forehead for fever. Every time my husband uses his hand to check for warmth, I actually recoil, thinking about my mom’s method. And, I just googled this to find that Yahoo Answers! agrees with her (http://yhoo.it/WHFsJC ) — not that I doubted her, I just wanted a second opinion.

Second and more controversial:  Drinking warm liquids to stay cool in the summer. I can recall the exact street corner in Red Bank, NJ where we had this conversation. My mom was treating us to drinks on a hot summer day and asked for hot, not iced coffee. Her reasoning might have been off, but her method works. She emphatically explained that your warm body has to work harder when it reacts to an icy liquid and the “hard work” makes you hotter. I’ve always wondered about this and just googled it too. I found an interesting and almost opposite explanation, but it still gives the same end result:  feeling cooler on a hot day.  http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/07/11/156378713/cool-down-with-a-hot-drink-its-not-as-crazy-as-you-think .

Third, tons of cooking education.  Recently, after giving my good friend advice on cooking chicken soup, she  was impressed and asked how I knew the “insider tips.” When I told her, “Oh, easy- my mom taught me…” she complimented my mom for both her practical knowledge and ability to impart it to me!

Little things like finding that column, especially when I usually recycle Parade Magazine without even opening it, give me a warm reminder that my mom is still an influence in my life. I have admitted before in my blogs that while I do genuinely miss my mother for all of the usual melancholy and sentimental reasons, I also selfishly miss her help. Thanks to her, I do know how to boil water faster, dust top to bottom, check for expiration dates and much more (https://iwishmymom.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/expired/).

I am so sure my mom would have continued to share even more expert and useful tips. And, given the opportunity, Marilyn Vos Savant would endorse them!

Mothers and Maids

5 Sep

Having read and watched The Help, I am filled with thoughts about my mom and mothers. This story can be enjoyed and even analyzed on many levels, including the role of mothers—then and now. Other mothers abound in the story. Skeeter is honest about who raised her and might even find the term “Other mother” demeaning in reference to Constantine, her family’s maid. She shows resentment toward her mom and love for her family’s “help” as she repeatedly reminds her mother that Constantine raised her. And, isn’t Aibileen more like a mother to Mae Mobley’s than the child’s own mom, Elizabeth? It seems appropriate when Mae Mobley tells Aibileen, “You’re my mom.”

For me, one of the most poignant moments in the movie is towards the end, when Skeeter and her mom come to terms with their past and future. While their emotional connection still seems disjointed, I appreciate their honesty. I love when Charlotte says to her daughter, Skeeter, “Courage sometimes skips a generation, thank you for bringing it back to our family.” It took great courage for Charlotte to admit her wrongdoings.

I am thankful to have had a mother who, like “the help,” raised me with unconditional love and taught me to be honest and fair. And, the story reminds me to mother my children with those same intentions.

If you read the book or movie, what moments made you think about your mom and her influence? Were you influenced or “mothered” by anyone else and what effect did that have?

Other Mothers in the Wake of Irene

1 Sep

A mom’s empathy and help is priceless….

One of the most heartwarming, reassuring and appreciated consequences of Hurricane Irene’s destructive stop in our town is the outpouring of help from women throughout our neighborhoods.  I think many of us in town have long felt a great sense of community. We have two amazing networks/listservs, the Working Moms Group and our Newcomers/Encore Group. The advice, help and camaraderie emanating from these groups is precious and mother-like.

In the aftermath of this storm, women have offered help in every way imaginable.  Like a mom, these women have thought of all of our essential needs: a warm meal, laundry, a place to shower. Due to the devastation from Irene, these women are giving information on and lending fans, de-humidifiers, wet vacs and even generators. And, because of our reliance on technology, their offers also include wifi access and a home to charge computers and cell phones. It started with friends offering such help to their immediate circles of friends. And, then it spread. Just today, one woman posted an offer for anyone in town to borrow her mom’s stockpots for boiling our unsafe water. The offers keep coming: friends and acquaintances who hear that I am without power, have reached out with empathy and offers for us to meet those essential needs and even take a swim in their pool while the laundry finishes.

And, just like a real mom, there is some daughter guilt. I actually feel bad if I can’t take someone/everyone up on their offers. I would love to spend time with each of these “other moms”. The idea of dinner and powering up at each person’s house, is tempting and reassuring. However, reality and the imminent start of school intervene and force me to turn down some offers. Instead we  sometimes we go to the library or Starbucks in order to work incognito.

I often think about times that I turned my mom down on her offers (or requests) to get together. My “no” was often accompanied with guilt. While I regret  not saying yes all of the time, I know how unrealistic that is and that she understood. Saying no to someone who offers her heart and house to you is hard. So many of us moms feel great when we give to others. It’s almost ironic that I want to give these “other moms” the satisfaction of giving.

I hope you are lucky enough to have your mom or other moms in your life. Perhaps you are also an “other mom.” I’d love to hear your story!

The Offer to Help

5 Jun

Who notices you are drowning and throws you a life-preserver? Drowning in stress, that is. I sometimes feel selfish in wishing my mom was here–for me. If you’ve read my posts you know how sad I am that she did not have the chance to enjoy her grandchildren and adult companionship with her daughters…. But, I also readily admit that I wish my mom could help me! I was reminded of this wish today when a friend expressed sadness and even anger that her mother is unable to help her. My friend feels a desperate need to get away for a night with her husband and asked her mother to stay with her children overnight. One problem inherent in this scenario is that her mother did not reach out to her. More than anything, she wanted her mother or husband to notice her stress and offer help. Imagine how comforted you would feel if someone close to you said, “Wow, you seem stressed lately. Maybe you’re feeling crazed from work or from the kids. What you need is to get away…..” Just that remark would make you feel better, right? And, certainly from there you could use your mom’s, husband’s or friend’s help to plan the stress-relieving get-away.

Luckily, as I have said in previous posts, I have some people in my life who do notice and offer to help. But, a mom is just so uniquely “there for you.” , She most likely is free of huge responsibilities—no other children at home, possibly retired,… If your mom is not able to or simply not the right person to work with you, who is watching out for you? Which of your friends will throw you a life-preserver? Will they offer first or wait for you to ask?