Memoir Relationships

My Mom Was Hot Stuff

Mommy & me, circa 1969

My mom is hot stuff in this photograph

She’s pretty and has straight teeth.

She wears pink hoop earrings and floppy hats.

She does cartwheels with the girls who live in the house across the street.

My mother is in nearly all of my earliest childhood memories. She encouraged me to paint, explore calligraphy, and use pipe cleaners to make frogs and ladybugs. She loved when I sang and danced and rode horses and did backflips off the diving board.

When I was sick, my mother brought the black-and-white television into my bedroom along with a little bell, which she told me to ring if I needed anything. On those miserable days, I watched My Three Sons and The Don Ho Show until my mother emerged with green medicine and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup served on a swirly green and blue plastic tray.

One day, I didn’t want to be my mother’s twin anymore.

Pink and yellow were not my colors.

I remember shouting and slamming doors, tears.

I saw my mother throw her hands up, exhausted, not knowing what else to do.

I felt powerful then, driving her to pain and chaos.

Now that I have a teenager in the house, I want to tell my mother, I’m sorry.

Because I see how precious it is, that time when our children are young. And what a gift it is, to let a mother hold on to the little things for another day, another year.

Because it hurts when our children reject our offerings.

Even when I didn’t give her any credit, my mother remained steadfast, guiding me with an invisible hand.

She still does.

I suspect she always will.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Hey mom, from the looks of this photo, you knew how to style your hair. Do you think you could have done something with mine? Seriously. Also, if you still have that hat, can I borrow it? xoxoRASJ

Tell me something about your mother.


10 thoughts on “My Mom Was Hot Stuff

  1. I have reached that place in my mom’s life where roles are beginning to shift–where there are things she no longer can do for herself…yet the older she gets the more of herself she is able to share… some of her own growing up experiences with her mother, picking wild grapes and canning grape juice… canning fruits and vegetable, then sharing them with her sister’s family. In the fall she and I love to can tomatoes and peaches together, something my two sisters view as a chore that must be gotten through as quickly as possible. Not so for my mother and me. My mom is in the early stages of memory loss disease. One would only notice if they had known my mom in her younger days. She know longer sews–putting the pieces together no longer makes sense to her. Same with crocheting and knitting. However, she has turned to embroidery and leaves words and pictures on kitchen towels and pillow cases that show how much she remembers and loves each one of us. She doesn’t know this, but I’ve let my hair grow long because its texture has become like hers…when she was young.

    1. Yes, the memory loss. It’s weird. I was with my mother for Mother’s Day, and I’m kind of stunned that she doesn’t remember everything. She seems to have selective memories…like she doesn’t remember anything that caused her pain or suffering. It’s kind of fascinating, actually. Like a protective mechanism or something.

      1. There are times that are so painful for my mother to remember that she has locked them up and away. I cannot fault her for that. If we remembered each and every devastatingly painful moment, who of us could bear the weight? What damage could be done, if we pulled them up alongside us, into our present? Who among us has the wisdom and time to grasp the wrongs, dust them off, mend what is broken, and fixed, set them back into their proper places?

  2. My mother’s and my relationship reversed for the last 8 or 10 years of her life, and I never for a moment thought of caring for her as a burden. I was honored to be able to do it, and I knew I could never do enough to repay her for a lifetime of supporting me.

    1. David, when we first connected it was – in part – because you were clearly such a devoted and doting son. I was greatly impressed and I can only hope that my son feels the same about me when I am one day old and infirm.

  3. Renee, I love the picture of you and your mother. I haven’t seen a lot of pictures of Cal, but looking at the second picture of your mother I had the impression maybe he gets his looks from her.

    1. Hahahaha! I can tell you that Cal looks a lot like his dad. They are practically twins. Genetics are incredible.

  4. There’s a tenderness about this time when roles begin to shift, in which we take care of each other. Not all of my siblings grasp this. To them, my mom is old, doesn’t know what she likes or wants. Hence, they treat her as a child, a nuisance, acting as if being old is a terminal illness, that cannot be eased, or made better in any way. Their attitude, why bother, she’s old and only going to get worse and die. It’s as if my mother life has no meaning, that she was never a person, whose father was imprisoned for committing incest with his eldest daughter, who lost her step-father in a logging accident, who was a gifted seamstress winning awards for her sewing, who once had dreams of her own to become a nurse or teacher, who had an auntie in her life who would have paid her way to nursing school, who briefly lived on her own, working away from her family, whose life was robbed by my father, his jealousy, his alcoholism, his gambling, his fists. My sisters want no part of who my mother was and is. All they can see are the ways in which they believe my mother and father failed them.

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