Category Archives: Yep I’m Becoming My Mother

Musings about the various ways I’m unwittingly mimicking my mother.

1982 Called

Quintessential 80's

 

This photograph encapsulates so much of what I remember-and miss- about the ’80s. This is a real photograph (as if you couldn’t tell from the faded color and hideous retro wallpaper) of me, my bro, and some neighbor kids in the kitchen where I ate many of my meals from 1979 to 1995.

This kitchen went through several make-overs over the decades but this is what it looked like for many of my young childhood years. That damn telephone cord ticked me off more than a few times as it either coiled up in a way even Houdini would have a difficult time unraveling the thing or it choked me or my brother as my mom methodically raced around the kitchen prepping hobo dinners and fried apricot pies.

But there was always a surprise to who may be on the other end of the line when it loudly rang until you picked it up. And during phone conversations there was not really anywhere to go but stretch the cord beyond its limits into the dining room to have a “private” conversation.

And that Tupperware. I don’t know how but I have that olive-green bowl I’m eating from in the photograph resting on a shelf in my own kitchen now. Don’t know what happened to the others. I suppose they are in Tupperware heaven, reuniting with their lids. I take my Greek yogurt to school in mine and the kids look at it as if it’s a relic from an ancient civilization. God knows how many PBAs have mutated inside. But I love it because it reminds me of this time. The ’80s. A time I will forever be nostalgic about.

Look how happy we are eating our ice cream. At first glance I thought it might be cottage cheese because we did eat that with canned pineapple at times but what kids would be that excited about curdled cheese?

My brother was always goofy. I was the overachiever who loved him making me laugh.  Though now he is 700 miles away from me I can hear a line from a movie or song from our childhood and burst out in laughter thinking how he would mimic it.

There are hundreds more nostalgic memories I have from those years but right now I’ll just leave it at this one photograph.

Even though most everything in that kitchen is now in a landfill (except the rustic fall scene painting- my Granny has it) that is how the kitchen always looks in my dreams.

 

What did your childhood kitchen look like? Is there anything you wish you still had from it?

 

 

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Gimmee A Break

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Two weeks into summer break and I already can’t spell certain words. For a moment I almost forgot the word ‘selection’ starts with an ‘s’ not a ‘c’. I guess this is why they have my son doing summer homework.

“How often do you need me to do homework?” he asks.

Given that he has 30 days of math problems, two books to read and answer a series of questions about, and some writing exercises (fun!), I suggest EVERY DAY.

And I have given myself homework as well. Such as reading (I finished a young adult novel in 3 days) and writing (here I am). Of course I will also help him with his homework as long as it’s not algebra.

Brain gets stagnant and dumb if you don’t use it. Or if you watch too much TV.

Everyone deserves a break though. I think everyone should have two weeks off each season to fully enjoy all that nature and other passions have to offer. Alas other types of learning during those times.

But this is America and unfortunately I don’t see this happening. Only in my little dream world where ice cream has no calories and unicorns prance around the streets.

But thank god for summer break. And I am truly sorry for those of you who don’t get one. If it makes you feel any better this school year I had to wipe poo off toilet seats, smell about 35 stinky sneakers every day, observe at least 10 bloody teeth being extracted, act as counselor/therapist/nurse in countless situations, and cried to myself on a few occasions while feeling all the feelings that erupt embarrassing stifled bouts of snot-bubble sobbery at work. And that was just the first three months.

So we’ll both enjoy this break and learn a little something along the way. And for the record I do know how to spell celection selection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Colors of Summer

We bought a new float yesterday. It’s a blow-up surf board with a tiki image in aqua blue, coral, sunshine yellow, and grass green. It smells like fresh plastic-coated fun. It smells like summer vacation.

There’s a slight tug at my stomach, a nagging to make sure to fit everything one can possibly fit in this time off. My boy is 12. Is this his last childhood summer before he starts getting all teen-agy?

I want to relish in every freckled smile. Every swish of a hand in pool water. Every lazy snuggle. Every moment spent lingering over breakfast when during the school year it’s rush rush rush.

I took an assistant teaching job for many reasons, number one being so I could be on my son’s schedule and enjoy some of his days off with him just like my mother and father did with me.

This time is more precious than gold. More fleeting than the speed of a hummingbird’s wing.

I hear the snap of Nerf guns coming from his bedroom and the goofy chatter between him and his good friend. We will take the new float out again today. The five bucks spent on it will more than pay for itself in laughter and memories.

I like looking around the house and seeing the float, the beach towels, the pizza box from last night’s sleepover feast. A myriad of colors representing all that summer has and should stand for.

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What do your summer colors look like? If you could accomplish one thing this summer, what would it be?

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Hippy Music

I just took a road trip back to the motherland (Tennessee) with my son Ian. He usually has his ears plugged into his music via iTunes collection on iPhone and cushy headphones. “I’m gonna listen to some music ok?” He always tells me before going into his music world. Because god knows he cannot hear me once that happens. 

He appreciates a pretty decent range of genres for an 11-year-old. Lately he has been into Rhett & Link, YouTube stars who create some pretty humorous videos and songs. My favorite is the one about OCD because I can relate to wincing when a chip bag is opened from the wrong end or one blind slat is flipped the opposite way. 

Ian usually shares what he’s listening to and loves to sing the songs to me, especially if there’s a rap bit. He’s got a great memory (multiplication tables excluded) and can repeat lyrics quickly after he hears a song a couple times. 

He knows my complete adoration and need for music as there is some sort of speaker in every room in the house. So his love of music is well, music to my ears. But he has still not grasped the importance of appreciating The Beatles.

My brother Art and I spent hours and hours of our childhood in the basement listening to our parent’s old 45s. Thus a lifetime of Beatle love was born. 

Halfway into the road trip Ian didn’t have his headphones on and wanted to just sit quietly next to me wondering if we were there yet. He needed a break from his electronics. Bob Dylan was echoing out of the car speakers. 

“Sorry you gotta listen to my hippy music,” I said half apologectically. 

He shrugged under his downy blanket. 

“Do you know what a hippy is anyway?”

“I know some of what a hippy is.”

“Well what do you know?” I asked.

“Someone who drives a van covered in peace signs and does drugs?”

“Well not exactly.

I explained to him what a hippy was. How their culture came from a revolutionary movement during a time of war and unrest. He wasn’t fidgeting or distracted. He was listening to me. So I decided to take this time while we were encapsulated in the car together to teach him a bit about history. Musical history. 

  
I have my Sirius satellite radio favorites at the ready and will switch between them depending on mood. Each time I landed on a great road-trip worthy song (mainly those that you can sing along to and don’t put you to sleep or drown you in their sorrowful lyrics) I took the opportunity to tell him a bit about the artist, the genre, and what was going on at the time. 

When a Paul McCartney song came on I told him how each member of the Beatles had their own solo career and how I had seen Paul in concert back in the nineties in Louiville with his uncle Art and some friends. “Is Paul dead now?” He asked. I explained to him that Paul and Ringo are the two remaining Beatles on this earth. 

I told him about grunge music when Nirvana came on. And what an integral part they played introducing the Seattle-based guitar heavy sound to the world. “What is he saying, Mom?” 

Yeah.

I told him how I couldn’t listen to Stars by Hum when he was away from me because it reminded me of how much he loved that song when he was very little. 

I told him about New Wave and early alternative when Morrissey’s melodic groaning flowed through the satellite airwaves. And how I got a speeding ticket once while rocking out to Pop Muzik by M. 

I’m hoping he’ll remember some of what I explained to him. I don’t have old 45s for him to listen to (my bro took all those before I could protest). But perhaps he’ll raid my cassette or CD collection one day or download a Beatles song. And perhaps he’ll even remember the lyrics to Let ’em In the next time he hears it. 

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Burnt Bagels and Mayonnaise Sandwiches

Harried, overwhelmed, inadequate. That’s how I felt one morning while standing over the breakfast I’d prepared for my 11-year-old son. I’d burnt the bottom of a bagel, the last bagel. Among the lapping of the dog at the empty dog bowl, the annoying motor sound of the leaking fridge, there was sobbing. “I’m a crap Mom!” I said out loud while trying to slice off the charred chunk and keep my tears from falling into the butter. “I can’t do anything right.”

I don’t know how my mom did it. She raised two kids, worked, kept an immaculate house.

There are dozens of dog hair tumbleweeds rolling about my floors. And I can’t even toast a proper bagel for my one kid.

Being a working Mom ain’t no joke. Being a Mom period ain’t no joke. I’ve been the stay-at-home and the working. They both have their challenges. Time is never on your side.

I am a perfectionist but I have had to learn to change my idea of perfection. And I certainly can’t compare myself to other Moms. God forbid go onto Facebook and see all the seemingly perfectionism going on there. Makes me want to choke on a bagel. But nothing is perfect. There’s always a burnt bagel or a sob fest or a moment of defeat behind gorgeous repurposed doors.

I can look back at my childhood and glorify and romanticize. But it had its moments, too.

My mom usually packed my lunch. Most of the time it was decent enough for a kid in the 80’s in the South. There was a lot of white bread and pimento cheese and I think maybe a piece of fruit every once in a while. But sometimes the content of the sandwich consisted only of mayonnaise. Which I hated. But the crusts were cut off. And while I choked down the vile thing I kind of felt sorry for my mom cause I knew she was doing the best she could do. And she left little “I love you” notes in my Smurfs lunchbox.

I never wanted her to feel bad about the mayo sandwiches so I never said anything about it.

After I salvaged my son’s bagel I brought it to him while holding back tears.

A few minutes later I heard him call out that it was the best bagel he’d ever eaten. And that I was the best Mom there could ever be.

We may not be perfect. In other people’s minds and especially our own. But we do the best we can. And a special note, gratitude, and some sugar and cinnamon goes a long way.

Caprice Estate

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom

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Walking in Flip Flops, Working in Heels

One of the first realizations that I was stepping (pun intended) into the corporate, professional world this past September was that I had to place these somewhat foreign objects on my feet everyday. Calf straining, toe-crunching, sweat breeding objects. No flip flops allowed. Ouch.

I was so nervous those first few weeks. Ten minutes before start time there I was in the parking lot fiddling maniacally with the straps of a pair of heels I bought at a second-hand store. The rubber inserts were peeling off and I had to constantly reattach them.

My work clothes consisted of a few outfits from said thrift store and a sprinkling hodgepodge of items I put together from my own closet. Items I hoped did not show too much back or leg, or resembled a wardrobe from Gilligan’s Island/Punky Brewster/The O.C.

Surely these people knew I was a fraud. I’m a writer, a beach bum, a stay-at-home Mom. A girl who sometimes doesn’t get out of her jammies until late afternoon. A girl who loves flip flops so much she fashioned a blog after them.

I staggered across the parking lot hoping I didn’t look drunk. Like a fawn trying to get her footing after being in the cozy sheltered womb.

I smiled as I passed my business casual-clad coworkers. Hiding my grimace from the pain of the shoes, the claustrophobia of the underwear. Hoping I at least looked the part.

Four months have passed. I still stagger from time to time. Ok, often.

And I still drive to work in flip flops.

But I am not alone. There are others who suffer from flip flop separation. We slip our heels and toe-covering flats off while sitting at our desk. Our foot-coverings of choice stashed on the floor boards of our cars, waiting to be reunited.

We may work in heels, but we walk in flip flops.

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I Want My Mommy

I felt it coming on during the Memorial Day pool party Monday afternoon. Seems as soon as one of my neighbors announced he had a cold and wasn’t feeling well my sinuses began to clog.

I don’t get sick very often. Take my vitamins. Eat healthy. Work out. Wash my hands like an OCD sufferer.

During this month alone I nursed my son through conjunctivitis and the flu. Then my husband through Shingles (meaning I sequestered him to the guest room and occasionally brought him tea). And then through a series of surgeries which had me applying ice patches, eye drops, administering meds, draining fluids and recording them, and holding a bucket for him to pee in. And let’s not forget enduring the moaning and groaning.

I could have made a pretty damn good nurse.

But now the nurse needs a nurse. And no matter how much my husband and son try to help they cannot live up to the high standards of the one who nursed me through countless bouts of strep throat and a few horrendous stomach bugs as a child.

I want my mommy!

As I sit here on the stained recliner I finally regained command over I am overwhelmed with a craving for Mom’s sweet, soft southern voice. And some bacon, eggs, and biscuits. I can see her now, dashing about the house in her muumuu, carrying a box of Kleenex, a thermometer, and a recycled plastic honey bear filled with ice-cold orange juice.

But right now she is in her condo. A mere fifteen minutes away but still. Probably in her muumuu, sipping coffee and watching some network morning show. I texted her I wasn’t feeling well and of course she replied she’d be available if I needed help. Then she added the emoticon with the kissy lips. I instantly felt a small surge of healing.

Still want that biscuit though.

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