I was raised by a near perfect mother. Our well decorated home was immaculately clean. Her checkbook was balanced the day the statement arrived, every single month. We ate home-cooked dinners FAR more often than not. She was Room Mother Extraordinaire and her banana bread could win awards.
We had homemade, expertly decorated birthday cakes in designs that reflected our personalities and interests – a Barbie cake for me, a pizza cake for my brother, even a brown sugar sand trap complimented the fresh from scratch buttercream icing rough, fairway and green on the golf course cake she made for my lady golfer 4th grade teacher. Our lunch bags were lovingly branded each morning with our names…in calligraphy. My dresses were smocked with care by my own mother’s hands. In fact, I even had a smocked nightgown with matching smocked barrettes.
We were well mannered, well behaved children growing up. We knew to say “ma’am” and “sir” to adults. When called upon, we were trained to reply not with a “Huh?” or “What?”, but a “Ma’am?” or “Sir?” We did not run in people’s living rooms or put our feet on their furniture; and if we did, we immediately stopped when corrected – sans sass talk.
We wrote thank you notes. Our table was properly set with placemats and cloth napkins for each meal. After dinner, as we cleared our own places, we thanked my mother for the delicious fare. My older brother and I attended Cotillion when we were ten, where we practiced introductions and dancing.
My mother was not a “stay at home” mom. She was a “work at home” mom. In addition to flawlessly running the household and raising children, she ran the family home building business from her desk - keeping books, helping Daddy manage contractors, and selecting flooring, wallpaper, lighting, and more. She taxied us to dance, Blue Birds, Boy Scouts, soccer, T-ball and more. She volunteered at the local hospital, served in the Junior League and occasionally worked in a friend’s gift shop.
This was my mother.
And today, as I sit in my pajamas, lazily letting my baby girlies sleep in on this summer morning, sipping a canned Diet Coke for breakfast, I marvel at the fact that she left dishes in her sink today when she left for work.
I remember sitting in my mother’s closet, in awe of her clothes. She had so many clothes. Clothes she’d hung onto for what, to my young mind, seemed like decades. In reality, most of them were only a few years or perhaps A decade, I suppose. She had a Real Wardrobe, not just a bunch of clothes. I remember wanting to one day have a closet like that. I remember wanting my closet to be organized and tidy like hers; everything in its own place with room to breathe.
I remember her long skirts, scarves, and jewelry. She had earrings upon earrings and all sorts of zippered silky bags tucked away with gold and jewels inside. Her shoes and her slips were so feminine and adult.
I would sit on the little stool and help her decide which outfit to wear and how to accessorize it. She asked my opinion and listened to my suggestions, almost as much then as she still does now. She would show me shiny treasures - some hers and some mine – and tell me their stories, surrounded by the quiet in her closet.
I am not my mother. And, I will never be her. My home will never be as clean as hers. My cakes will never be as good, my sewing never as perfect, and my daughters’ school lunches will never wear their names in calligraphy. My checkbook will forever envy the loving care hers receives, and my budget will never be so carefully balanced. My closet is a shameful mess right now, and my baby doggie is much more at home in there than my girlies.
The older I get, though, the more I am OK with this. I am me. This is me.
I love and treasure my mother. Her home is a comfort to me, as is my own. My mother gave me love and safety everyday, just as I do for my girlies. My mother was with me everyday; everyday she gave me herself. I am with my girlies everyday; everyday I give them myself. I kiss. I hug. I love. I laugh and fuss and teach. Just like Mama.