The Convoluted Logic of Our Mother’s Day Tradition

depositphotos_5078841-Happy-Mothers-Day-with-Daisy-FlowersIt started with my own mom; she presented ME with gifts on Mother’s Day — thanking me for being her daughter — and any excuse to shop is a good one, right?

I was born on Mother’s Day, so it makes sense to give me lots and lots of presents. Even though it only occurs that way every seven years, it’s still always within the same week.

I enthusiastically carry on the tradition with my son; well, because — uh –if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have a reason to celebrate Mother’s Day at all, would I?

As my son would say, “Duh.”

This year I got him an array of products from Kiehls — skin cream, shaving cream, shampoo, and penned a mini-poem:

You have always been my Angel Boy

As your mom

Every day has been filled with joy.

Other girls wanted to be doctors, lawyers, teachers — all I ever wanted to be was a mom.

While all the other mommies are having breakfast or brunch or lunch, I’ll be spending my day driving to the airport to for a Southwest Airlines delivery of my Angel Boy. Can’t wait!

Best of all, he’ll be here all week and that is my best birthday present ever.

Happy Mother’s Day to cat and dog lovers!

crazycatlady

 

happy-mothers-day-bitches

A Mom Knows These Things

A Generation Fabulous Blog Hop: The Best Thing I Learned From My Mother

Me: “Hey, Mom, guess what?”

Mom: “You’re pregnant.”

Me: “How did you know that’s what I was gonna say?”

Mom: “A mom knows these things.”

MommyThat’s my mom. She was born in 1915 and died in 1989 from pancreatic cancer. She lived with us until the end. I cared for her with the help of a wonderful hospice team.

I was a mid-life baby –born in 1954. She was afraid that I was going to be affected with Downs Syndrome, although they didn’t call it that. At that time, it was  referred to as Mongoloidism, which is no longer in technical use as its considered offensive. They didn’t have genetic testing back then and it scared her that  I was such a good baby, always happy and never cried.

The doctor told her I would make up for it by causing her heartache when I was a teenager, and I did — but that story is for another time…

My mom became a registered nurse at a time when abortions were illegal. She often told me that the horrible things that she saw in the hospital — the aftereffects of a botched backroom abortion — were the reasons she was one thousand percent pro-choice right from the beginning.

“A woman has the right to choose whether or not she wants to have a child.”

That’s something I learned from my mom.

“No man has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body.”

I learned that from my mom, too.

These forward thinking ideas were even more remarkable when you consider that her father — my grandfather — was a Rabbi. My mom was one of seven children. They moved from town to town as my grandfather moved from synagogue to synagogue  — a nomadic life.  Although she was born in Minnesota, my mom spoke with a slight southern drawl because the family spent many years in the south.

They eventually ended up in Detroit. I loved hearing my mom tell the story of climbing onto a city bus and walking to the back along with an African-American girl who had been told to “get to the back of the bus”. The bus driver kicked my mom off for being a troublemaker.

meandmommyObviously, that’s where I got my big mouth. I learned to speak up for those less fortunate — to fight for those that have no voice. I learned to speak up when I see child abuse or animal cruelty. As proud as I was of her, I know she’d be equally as proud of me.

My mom taught me what it meant to be a mother. She abhorred daycare and nannies and was disdainful of mothers who worked. She told me that people shouldn’t have children if they don’t want them and if they can’t take proper care of them.

No stranger would raise HER grandchild.

“A child deserves to have a mom who will selflessly dedicate her life to her child with unconditional love.”

I always knew I would be a stay-at-home-mom — my mom showed me how.

And also thanks to my mom, I wear perfume every day — Chance by Chanel. It’s my signature, even if I’m just going to the gym. I learned that from my mom, too.

“Don’t save perfume for special occasions.” Fragrance can turn rancid and sour smelling. This is what she said when she presented me with my very first bottle of real parfum — Joy by Jean Patou.

“Wear it every day. Wear it for yourself.”

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My mom and me. I think I had just given birth…not sure where my baby is!

Along with a love for cleaning the house with bleach, collecting seashells and blue glass, my mom passed on the shopping gene.

My passion for the finer things in life are directly related to that first mother-daughter dress, my first pink satin ballet shoes, my first silk blouse, and my first treasured cashmere sweater.

When we enjoyed a bit of retail therapy, Mommy (yes, I called her Mommy) liked to buy me things because she said it made her happy.

Her favorite saying was, “It’s only money.”

That cracks up my tugboat man — although she passed away a few years before we met– he says he’s now paying the price (literally) and carrying on the tradition – under duress. Ha ha ha!

Thank you, Mommy. I miss you so very much.

This is a bloghop!

An Enchanted Book Review: “where we belong”

One of the few joys I look forward to as an on again-off again single woman when my tugboat man goes out to sea is the freedom to read in bed as long as I want, without being told to “turn the light out and put the book down.”

That’s why I was soo excited to find a new Emily Giffen novel.2012-WhereWeBelong

where we belong (click on the title to read a chapter preview), is a radical departure from her other novels, and I’ve read them all:

An Emily Giffen story is usually so fun and captivating —  it’s like comfort food with the classic story structure: action, background, conflict, development, and the ending — with a happily ever after.

I want, I want, I want...

I’m pretty easy to please when i read chick lit. I don’t ask for much — a little romance, a little fashion, a little roadblock to the romance, some witty repartee, conflict resolution, and a happy ending with a huge diamond.

But not this time. What a disappointment this was!

[Spoiler alert]

Giffen’s character development was flat, stereotypical, and full of cliches.  The entire premise was kind of hard for me to believe. A teenager (Marian) gets pregnant, tells her mom but no one else — not the teen’s dad nor the teen’s boyfriend (Conrad); they conspire to hide her away somewhere until she gives birth and subsequently offers up the three-day-old child for adoption, and immediately gets on with her life to eventually become a successful producer of televison shows. Eighteen years later, the child (Kirby) searches for her birth mother and father, and ultimately all four parents attend her high school graduation. The reader is left with the hint that the bio-parents still have the hots for each other.

That’s it!

That’s all I got out of it the 372 pages.

My overwhelming feeling is that Giffen is looking to cash in on another series — will they or won’t they act on their feelings? Even the Reading Guide hints at this: “What do you think happens after the last page in this novel is turned? What future do you see for Kirby, Marian, and Conrad?

Sorry Emily Giffen, I’m not a fan of this one.

Have you read this one? Let me know what you think about it.

I Just Want to Pee Alone… A Must-Read Book Review

I Just Want To Pee Alone

Trust me, this is one of the best (and most irreverent) guides to the real world of mothering you’ll ever read.

It brought me back with laughter to the days when the bathroom was a place to hide for a few brief moments of precious solititude — where I’d hide a book to attempt to read and eke out a few sentences before the scratching and whining at the door would start to let me know I’d been discovered.

Ahhh, the good old days!

Way back when my son was a baby, we didn’t have blogging or the opportunity to use humor as an outlet to the rewarding — but unrelenting — job of being a mommy.

Raising kids properly is hard work. Every mom can relate to  “I just want to pee alone!”

I Just Want to Pee Alone is a collection of hilarious essays from thirty-seven of the most kick ass mom bloggers on the web. “Grown Up Words in a Pint-Sized Mouth” by Momaical (Tracy Winslow) is laugh-out-loud funny and is a must-read. She’s in great company with the rest of the bloggers, including People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Insane in the Mom-Brain, The Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva, Baby Sideburns, Let Me Start By Saying, and Rants From Mommyland.

Read it for yourself and I’m sure you’ll agree with me.

This is a super gift for a baby shower or a new mom, as necessary as a stroller or a car seat!

Beginnings and endings: 1966 and 2007

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.”–Coco Chanel

Two special dates: July 1966 and April 2007

Beginnings and endings.

July 1966 – Detroit, Michigan

I’m in the bathroom, calling out to my mom.

“MomMomMOM MOMMEEE!! Where ARE you? Guess what?”

You know what they say, a mom always knows.

“Honey, I bet you just started menstruating, am I right?” (She was a nurse and always always used a medical term instead of slang. Like we always said “urinate” instead of pee; vagina and penis instead of -well– instead of anything else.)

After a hug and a lengthy (yawn) tutorial about personal hygiene, my mom took me out for lunch and a shopping spree to commemorate this milestone towards womanhood. She told me that when she first began to menstruate, all she got was a slap in the face from her mother, some kind of archaic ritualistic symbolism that had something to do with the fact that her father (my grandfather) was a rabbi. She told me that she was horrified and never forgot it, and if she ever had a little girl, she’d mark the occasion with a celebration, not a punishment.

At school it was called “Aunt Flo” or “Secret Sam” (don’t ask me why.)

Back then everyone used cumbersome huge Kotex pads attached by a hellish contraption known as a “Kotex belt.” Made up of white elastic encompassing your waist along with two plastic clips that attached to each end of the pad, it took some getting used to — and felt very much like my biking shorts do now. It was a great day when I graduated to tampons.

That started years of worry. Worry about waiting to “start”. Worry about what to wear to avoid an accident, and later, worry about NOT starting, waiting every month with a silent prayer to the Period Goddess — please oh please let me start; I’ll be more careful next time. And then getting married and wanting to start a family; holding my breath every month and willing my body to NOT– becoming compulsively scientific, taking temperatures and  stressing over ovulation days and counting. Worry, worry, worry.

Worry about the baby I did become pregnant with…will he be healthy, will I be a good mom, will I produce enough milk, can I protect him from all harm and sadness–the what ifs drove me crazy.

April 2007 was the date of my last menses, my last period. At the risk of alienating my peers, I have to be honest and admit that I had no symptoms of menopause — I experienced none of the common complaints. Oh, I had an occasional hot flash–which I actually enjoyed since I’m always cold — for a few brief moments, it felt like I had my own personal heater. And once in a while, I’d feel a bit tingly which brought back awesome memories of a similar feeling when I was breastfeeding and my milk “let down”. I told my doctor all this and she nodded her head and said she had experienced the same sensations.

I am so happy to be done with all that worry.  I don’t have to check the calendar every month and worry about when or if I’m going to need to carry tampons with me.

It’s not that I’m not still kinda crazy, but my level of worry is diferent. Not that I don’t worry constantly about my son, but he’s a grown up thirty-two- year-old Yale professor and my worry for him is a bit less intense.

I feel freer. Tranquil. Confident. Satisfied. I can take a deep breath now and exhale.

Don’t get me wrong; I do believe Coco Chanel. I still work out like a fiend every day to fit in my size two skinny jeans; I fight the good fight with Botox and color my gray hair, but I’m a very happy fifty-eight-year-old, and proud to say it. Bring on the next chapter of my life. I’m ready!

This post is written for a Generation Fabulous BlogHop. Generation Fabulous is a new website for and about women who are rocking middle-age and beyond. Please click here to see more.

A daughter-in-law dedication

My Saturday in SoCal has not been nearly as eventful as this. My son sent these pics from New Haven where he went cross country skiing in thirty-eight inches of snow. I hope everyone is OK and hasn’t lost power or anything!

This is my 200th post–what a milestone! It seems only right that I dedicate this to S, my DIL. She badgered encouraged me to blog, to share my thoughts and snarky commentary (and not bug her and my son so much??) and it was my son who set up the WP account. (I’ll save those accolades for his March birthday post-plenty of time to get your hankies washed, ironed, and perfumed–they’ll be drenched with tears. A mommy’s love is fierce, y’all. Just a warning.) 

miljokeI hope I’m not a bad MIL. I had two of the worst mothers-in-law you could imagine-three if you count my tugboat man’s evil stepmother. The first one wasn’t really that bad; she suffered from a lot of medical problems so I’ll give her a pass for that reason-but she was just a precursor, a forerunner to a doozy of a bitch. Hub’s mom; a laconic thrower of backhanded one-liners–a future post’ll share some of my most memorable experiences.

MIL noteHopefully, that’s taught me not to be SO terrible, but as mom of an only child who happens to be a son whose nickname is Angel Boy and on whom the sun rises and sets, you can bet there needs to be a bit of benevolence, compassion, understanding, and sensitivity on both sides. There’s a def learning curve.

(I’m sure she fondly remembers our house rule of “no cohabitation without documentation” before they were married.)

S has a great sense of humor and a highly developed wit–a great way to deal with a MIL! Right, S?

Although she did recommend I watch “Monster-in-Law”…do you think she was subtly trying to tell me something?

Is my DIL trying to tell me something?

Is my DIL trying to tell me something?

S is London-born with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Brown. She’s opened up my world to lots of cool things like Absolutely Fabulous, Gossip Girl, and Downton Abbey. She’s a girly girl in addition to all that brain power. We’ve had a lot of fun together: shopping, getting manis, and making candles. I never had a girl child so it’s been a lot of fun doing things that my mom and I did. As a family, we’ve all gone hiking and camping together–it was DIL who taught me how to “pop a squat”–a skill that’s come in handy more times than I care to mention!

I can’t share what she does-YET-but as soon as I can, you can be sure I’ll shout it to the heavens with PRIDE!

DIL earned a special title.

Isn't she totes adorbs?

Isn’t she totes adorbs?

When she calls (which she should do more often), I’m alerted by the screen telling me it’s Angel Girl.

Thank you, DIL!

“Mom, I’m hungry!”

That’s the rallying cry from the moment my son and daughter-in-law’s plane touched down (an hour late at 12:20 a.m.) until the moment they left Sunday on the red-eye.

And I had such a great story to tell until my words disappeared. I thought WordPress automatically saved drafts, but not this time. All the pithy, witty, funny, poignant commentary is gone-vanished-poof-a chimera that was. How could a draft be deleted? I went through…Oh well, it was an overview of my weekend in which I went back in time to when mom and maid were synonymous, they both start with“m” and who can tell the diff?

I cooked and cleaned, and cooked some more.  Our tradition is to bring a snack for the long (thirty-five minutes) drive home from the airport. Being late meant they were super hungry, not just hungry hungry. They gobbled up the cheese and crackers and grapes and ginger tea like they hadn’t eaten in days. My mom-ESP was on high alert so I had made a Zucchini Pie earlier in the day, as well as Zucchini Cupcakes and Brownies. This hot weather we’re having caused all the zukes to ripen at the same time, so I had to find recipes to accommodate the harvest.  After a 1am feeding, they went to bed. That was just the beginning…the next morning I drove them down to the beach to go surfing and waited and watched-it was a gorgeous day–after a couple hours we came home and while they were showering, I made Breakfast Burritos and a fruit salad. An hour or so after that, it was time for lunch of Tuna Melts and then a mid-afternoon snack of guacamole and chips, and then dinner (we went out for sushi), and an after dinner snack. Sunday was a repeat of Saturday except I washed, dried, and folded all of their clothes and removed a stubborn stain from a pair of my daughter-in-law’s white jeans. I’m the go-to gal for stain removal.  It’s a gift, what can I say. I used hydrogen peroxide and bleach and enzyme release and baking soda with an old toothbrush, and we were able to salvage the $200 jeans.

And just to be clear, they are 31 and 29 and both have their Ph.D.s in Germanic Languages and Literatures (my son) and Neuroscience(DIL) so it’s not like they’re totally helpless. It’s just a mom thing. And what can I say; it gives me great pleasure. I’ve observed that there are two types of Jewish moms: the ones who have maids and cooks and travel a lot and are removed from the daily deets of their childrens’ lives, and my kind of mom who lives and breathes for every breath and word that radiates from their being. Talk about unconditional maternal love! I take it to that uber-level. I still like to hear him say, “Mom, mom, did you see that wave I caught?” or “Mom, I’m hungry”, or “Mom, sew up the hole in my pants, (shirt, sweater, jacket…)” So, it’s just an extension of that uber-Jewish-momness to include his wife under my wings. It’s still nice to feel needed, no matter how old they are.

It was 3:00 Sunday afternoon when I had a moment to check my email. The kids were on the deck enjoying smoothies and cut-up fruit. I’m not exaggerating when I say my son eats from the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep. He’s a little over six-feet and weighs about 150. He’s not hypoglycemic or anything-no medical problems, just a highly functional metabolism  I’d hate him if I hadn’t given birth to him. He eats anything that 1. isn’t nailed down, and 2. isn’t breathing.

My eyes can’t believe what I’m reading, travel arrangements for the next day–MONDAY–for my captain. Are you kidding me? Tomorrow? Not only was he going to miss seeing the kids, but I was absolutely not at all prepared for a proper homecoming!!! He wasn’t supposed to be back until October, but when we finally talked a bit later,  he was coming home because there was another assignment they wanted him to take, so everything happened fast. Right.  There would be no perfumed and ironed sheets this time. I had loads and loads of sandy towels to wash, the house was a mess, and so was I.

After I returned from yet another drive to the airport, I was so exhausted I fell asleep on the sofa with a glass of proseco in my hand. I woke up around 1:00 a.m. without having spilled a drop (!) and went to bed, setting my alarm for 6:00 a.m. It was going to be a long, long day until my husband’s arrival at midnight…