I was the babysitter’s worst nightmare.
I vividly remember standing hunched at the window of our apartment, crying my eyes out, my small frame racked with sobs. Just when you’d think it was over, that I couldn’t possibly have the energy for more, I’d take a breath and release another string of wails. My mother had gone out for the evening, probably to the opera or symphony. I didn’t know how to function, not even for a few hours, without her. So I cried with the passion of a person who has lost a limb.
I was the epitome of a Mama’s Girl. As an only child, I’d often choose to play with my mom than other kids. If you met me when I was four, you’d remember me embodying a very different cliché than today. A small, flaxen-haired girl, clutching Mama’s skirt, hiding behind her slim, smiling frame. I was painfully shy, in stark contrast to the center of my world. My mother has always sparkled with charisma and openness.
I don’t remember the first time my mother embarrassed me. I wonder if she does. But not long after I left the skirt-clutching cliché behind, I entered the angsty-teenager cliché. My mom shifted from the center of my idolatry to the center of my embarrassment. And there she stayed for more years than I’d like to admit.
Living 3,000 miles away from my mom has helped me come to truly appreciate my mother. I don’t remember the first time I realized it, but my mom is pretty much the coolest. (Maybe it was while walking through Brooklyn where hipsters basically emulate my mom’s lifestyle.) The coolest people are the ones who realize as long as they’re good people, it doesn’t matter what other anyone else thinks of them.
THINGS THAT USED TO EMBARRASS ME ABOUT MY MOTHER THAT I NOW THINK ARE TOTALLY COOL
My mom rides her bike everywhere.
Growing up, my family didn’t have a car. My parents still don’t have one. Instead, Mom rides her bike several miles a day up and down the hills of San Francisco. When she started doing this decades ago, there were no bike lanes, no places to park your bike, really no other bicycles on the road at all. Now biking is crazy trendy in SF. I’ll argues my mama started the trend. She’s that cool.
My mommy doesn’t have a cell phone.
It almost seems impossible at this point in time, but no I’m not kidding. My mother owns no sort of cellular device. Which means it’s really hard to reach her. All the coolest people are, right? But really what it means is that my mother is no slave to an electronic box. I love my cellphone…but sometimes I wish I could be more like my mom…
My mother shops exclusively at thrift stores.
When every other kid was going to Old Navy for back to school clothes, my mom was taking me to Goodwill. That was before thrifting became cool. I dreaded people asking me where I got my clothes. My mom always had an amazing earth view- she buys used clothes not just to save money but to save the planet. You’ll never find her without a reusable bag. Mama was a hippy and she never sacrificed those beliefs to the retail gods.
My ma never wears makeup.
She might have put on lipstick the nights she went to the opera, but I can’t remember ever seeing my mom wearing makeup. She’s comfortable in her own skin. It’s almost as hard to remember my mom’s bad moods as it is to remember her made up face. Her (reusable) glass is always half full, and it’s only recently that I really realized how incredible her optimism is. The woman never complains. I’m lucky to have seen how these things make a person more beautiful than any product can. My mommy is amazingly beautiful. She wakes up that way.
My mutha has no idea who Kim Kardashian is.
It is impressive how little my ma knows about popular culture. She sees no use for it and almost goes out of her way to keep it from occupying valuable brain space. A celebrity might think they’ve made it big if their on the cover of Vogue. That’s nothing. If my mommy knows who you are, that you’ve really made it big.
My mama takes time to smell the roses.
Walk a block with my mom and you’ll notice more about your surroundings than you ever had before. She’s constantly pointing out interesting plants, flowers, birds, architecture, crescent moons in the sky. That was my every day as a kid. And it wasn’t just for my learning, she still does it. It’s pretty amazing- an insight into how my mom sees the world. She notices things the rest of us think we’re too busy to care about. It used to annoy me so much UGH MOM! YES, I SAW THE FLOWER! NO, I DON’T WANT TO SMELL IT! LET’S GOOOO! Now it’s so inspiring. You want to meet someone who actually sucks the marrow out of life? (Dead Poet’s Society reference!) That’s my mamma. You really can’t get much cooler than that.
Love you, mama! (Yeah, she reads my blog, we’ve finally talked about it. She’s cool so it’s cool.) Happy Mothers Day to you, and to all other mothers reading! Hope everyone had a great weekend!