Saved money by cutting my and my sister’s hair at home.
Not that you could ever tell.
Smashed ice in a dishtowel and poured orange juice on top to simulate a snow cone when my sister and I would beg to buy one from the ice cream man.
Made us go to bed at seven-thirty well into our pre-teen years even in the summer. When school was out. And we could hear our friends playing outside. And it didn’t get dark until ten o’clock.
Dressed me and my sister in one of two standard Halloween costumes: old suit jackets and dirty faces (hobo) or curlers, housecoats and slippers (housewife). And then instantly made us put on our winter jackets. She was neither politically correct nor practical.
Wrapped us in layers and layers of winter clothing to protect us from fierce Virginia winters.
That may have been a Halloween picture for all I know.
Taught us to live in fear of sparklers lighting our hair on fire; getting rabies from squirrels; dying of a lightning strike in the bathtub during a storm; getting shot by someone after flipping them off; and the possibility of getting both chlamydia and tapeworms from a public toilet.
Braided our hair. Tucked us into bed. Tied our shoes. Spent time with us.
Floated on her back and chased us around the pool with a plantar’s wart on her toe while humming the theme to Jaws.
Giggled in the dark in bed with our Dad. They sure got a kick out of Johnny Carson.
Taught us that you can never use too much bleach or vacuum too often.
Passed gas like Dizzy Gillespie blowing Salt Peanuts.
Told us when we got home from school that the principal had called and informed her we didn’t eat the bananas or bologna sandwiches she packed in our lunches. Right on both counts.
Packed my suitcase and made me wait at the end of the driveway, bawling, for someone to pick me up and take me home with them since I had told her one too many times that day that I was running away to live with someone else.
That might have been the day she sent me packing.
Gave us home perms.
Not that you could ever tell.
Bought my thirteen-year old, bespectacled, awkwardly home permed-self a bright blue pullover sweatshirt embroidered with a white picket fence next to which a procession of cows, chickens, ducks and pigs were frolicking.
And insisted I wear it. In public. To middle school.
At which, upon my arrival, I was greeted with a chorus of Old MacDonald Had a Farm by the popular girls whose mothers allowed them to dress like mini-Madonna’s – think “like a” rather than actual virgins.
Told me that she smelled sex when I came home from a date.
Blew the dust off the top of her sewing machine and sewed curtains for the front windows the night she found out I was pregnant. Her nose didn’t lie.
Raised two daughters as best friends.
Taught us to work hard for its own sake. To love without sentimentality. To have high expectations. To make our own decisions. To respect ourselves and others. To laugh at ourselves often. To marry well.
By well I mean marry a man who you like to spend time with; enjoy talking to; can laugh with; never considers spending time with his own kids “babysitting”; works as hard as you do; who knows how to pick up his own shit; and, most critically, isn’t afraid to buy tampons.
Thanks mom. For everything.
Happy Mother’s Day.