The Things My Mother Told Me

In the time since I began writing, I haven’t once yet written about my mother. My mom is a private person; part of me wanted to respect that. But another part of me, the writer part, simply felt overwhelmed by the prospect. How do you summarize a mother in brief essay format? I let Mother’s Day slip by this year without one written word, choosing to let others more brave than I take up the mantle, and I wish that I hadn’t. It was this post, http://www.themomoirproject.com/?p=992, by Danielle Christopher, that inspired me to follow the Nike creed and Just Do It. I don’t want to wait until my mom is gone to say what should be said.

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The Things My Mother Told Me

My mother always told me, “Christie, be a lady.” My mother always asked, “Christie, is your room tidy?” And, when feeling a little over-taxed by the non-stop demands of her three busy children, my mother could occasionally be heard to exclaim, “Why don’t you stick a broom up my butt and I’ll sweep the floor while I’m at it!”

My mom is a petite, 5’2”, one-time brunette. After raising three children and maintaining a 44-year-and-counting marriage, a courtship that began when she was just twenty years old, she has earned every silvery-white thread now resting on her head. Her kindness is beyond measure, her compassion to a fault and nothing is too much when someone is in need. Every emotion she has ever felt can be read in the history contained within her eyes. “Damn fool!” is the worst profanity she has ever uttered, and even that took provocation of the nastiest kind.

My parents had, and still have, a partnership. My Dad is a committed family man whose work caused him to travel almost every week when my younger brother, older sister and I were growing up. My mom met her end of the bargain by managing the home front. She oversaw the daily, child-rearing responsibilities of two girls and a boy through the experimentalism of the seventies and fashion-challenges of the eighties. During a time when women’s rights were in flux, recreational drugs were de rigueur and everyone believed that sexual freedom came without consequences, she remained true to her values—family first, honesty always, kindness matters, remain dignified. When many women her age were pre-occupied with “finding themselves,” she was dedicated to us, her children, allowing us to explore who we were.

The soundtrack of my youth is unique. Sure, I rocked out to 80’s hits on the family ghetto blaster like other kids my age, but my siblings and I enjoyed the added bonus of my mom’s nightly dinner shows. Picture this: Her, head thrown back, belting out with abandon some off-key, off-melody, often contorted lyric as she sashéd, Ginger Rogers-like, across our chocolate-brown kitchen linoleum. A dancer in her youth, her physical fluidity far-surpassed her vocal prowess, but she continued. Encouraged by our giggles, she sang as she swayed from harvest gold appliance to harvest gold appliance while the tantalizing aromas of a hearty, slow-cooked, family meal wafted out of the crock pot. Her rendition of Honest Cecilia by the Gogo’s (known to everyone else in the world as…can you guess it?…kudos if you got Our Lips are Sealed) is a family favourite.

When I became a mom I was chagrined to find myself uttering phrases from my youth, long stored away in the recesses of my mind. Things I never thought I’d say, like, “Sit up straight,” “Have you got a piano tied to your leg?” and the ever popular, “If all of your friends jumped in a lake would you?” And, to this day, I still hear myself saying these things because, sometimes, they actually need to be said. But the one thing that my mother always told me, simply and from the heart, was “I love you.” And I always knew it to be true. This is what I echo most.

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Do you remember the things your mother told you? I’d love to hear them. Please share with me your memories.

3 Responses to “The Things My Mother Told Me”

  1. For once- I am at loss. I am beyond thrilled that my writing inspired you to write this heartfelt piece. Your mom is a lucky mom to have had such a wonderful daughter. Thank you for sharing your ‘things’.

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