Ten years ago on Mother’s Day, I leaned over to my mother and said, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.” She replied, “Shit. I don’t want to die on Mother’s Day.” As if that would matter. Mother’s Day hasn’t been easy since that day. I want to celebrate being a mother and I want to celebrate my children, but having my mother as my mother was such a gift. It’s hard to see this day as anything other than her day. So, in honor of my lovely mother, I am going to post 20 things my mother tried to teach me. Some I learned, some I resisted, some where outright lies.
But she tried. And I love her, still.
1.) Horizontal stripes make you look fat. Vertical stripes make you look slim and tall.
She had this vertically striped dress that was so hideous though. What I wouldn’t give to be able to remind her of that fashion error. So, I’ll say, “Stripes are hideous, Mama,” and leave it at that.
And part two: Always wear patterns. We are a messy lot. You can hide the stains that way.
2.) The Supernatural does exist.
Sometimes, even in a church basement. I love that my mother was a charismatic catholic. I think that is why I love supernatural fiction and urban fantasy. Thanks, mom.
3.) Never speak in public. It’s scary. Could even be life threatening.
My parents were horrified when I joined the speech team in high school. Later, when I coached the team and she was dying (and I was sneaking off from her bedside to still coach a little bit), she wanted to make me buttons to give to the team. SPEECH SAVES LIVES. She believed that speech saved mine.
4.) Never leave the house without lipstick.
And always carry tissues. Sorry mama, I still haven’t mastered that one. My kids still use their sleeves. Or mine.
5.) Never pass by a restroom without trying to use it. You never know when you will find another one.
Believe me, she followed this one to the letter. Ask anyone. You just never know.
6.) Never leave a pan handle sticking out from the stove. It’s dangerous.
Cooking with an illness induced brain injury isn’t safe either, Mama. Just sayin’.
7.) Never lick a knife.
Not even a table knife. I live on the edge. I let my children lick knives. Even when they are taking blood thinners. It takes particular skill to cut your tongue with a table knife.
8.) God exists. Even if it feels like God has abandoned you, God likely hasn’t.
Yeah, mom. Not buying it.
and part two: It isn’t where you find God, it’s that you find God.
Okay. I’ll buy this one. If I find God in music and in children and in every breath I take that doesn’t cause pain, score one for you.
9.) Never put important things on high shelves.
Thanks, mom. I haven’t mastered this yet, but I need to, since I have one fully frozen shoulder, and one on its way. This never mattered to me when I was well. I was 5′ 8″ to your 5’4″ then, but now, you are right.
10.) There’s safety in numbers.
She didn’t like the idea of settling down with just one love interest. At least not for her children that were in high school. I kept telling her, “Mom, if I have four boyfriends, I look like a slut.” But she was right. It kept me out of trouble.
11.) My husband and son were the most amazing gifts in my life.
Again. Right. They drive me crazy, but she was right.
12.) That my father would have been proud of me.
I don’t know, Mom. It’s easy to make shit up after people are dead.
13.) That I needed to be a writer. I was born to be a writer. And a hospice nurse.
Okay mom. How about a chronically ill writer? Is that a compromise, because it seems a little like a cruel joke. But I guess you knew. Somehow, I would end up tying together sickness/dying with writing.
14.) Be fair. Don’t play favorites.
You weren’t very good at this mom. And you know it.
15.) Perms give you a sense of security no matter how bad they are for your health and well being.
You were so wrong on this one, Mom. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The last few years of your life, you looked great. I know you went perm free because of me, and for your health, but you looked great!
16.) Coffee enemas are wrong. Just very, very wrong.
Again, mom. Coffee enemas are the bomb. I can’t believe you wouldn’t go for it. “I’d rather die than do coffee enemas.” Yep.
17.) Don’t play with matches. Because my sister did and lit her dress on fire.
Thank you, Barb, for lighting your dress on fire. I would have learned the hard way. I did put a fork in an outlet in 4th grade. Wish you would have warned me.
18.) God has a plan for your life.
Again, really? To be 46 years old, have a mitre valve problem, and who knows what else going wacky in my heart. In addition, I’ve been carrying around a variety of infectious disease for a really long time. Not buying it, mom. God’s plan seems a little mean if you ask me.
19.) Don’t ever have a difficult conversation with someone after dark. Just let it wait until the morning. Then everybody can sleep.
Yes, mom. Brilliant. I wish I remember that more often.
20.) Stick by the people you love, NO MATTER WHAT. Even when you die, never leave them.
Yep. Your were right mom. This is the one that impacted me the most. You will never forget me. You will not leave me orphaned. You will never forget your own.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. I wish you were here. We could fight about the perms, Jesus, coffee enemas, and knife licking. And I would savor every word.