My Mom is the best.
I really lucked out on having her as a parent. She's cool. She's very liberal, she's the ultimate "Yeah I'm single and I'm 52, but shit damn, I'm going to the Smokey Mountains and I'm gonna hike for three weeks and probably skinny dip in Lake Solitude while howling at the full moon."
She's a recovering Catholic and has reveled in her womanhood for as long as I can remember.
She helped me name one of my first pets (a guppy) Gloria Steinem. I remember when the fish died and I came into the kitchen looking all sad and said, "Mom- Gloria Steinem died." She went pale. Had to sit on the kitchen counter to make sure she wouldn't collapse and cried. I was touched that she was so upset about my guppy dying. Five minutes later I found out that she thought that her adulthood hero had passed away and really didn't give a flying flip about my dead guppy.
When my sister or I would injure ourselves, we would come up to her, moaning or whining, bloody/bruised/burnt appendage extended from our bodies toward her face, asking for pitty and sympathy. Instead, Mom would reply in a very straight-forward manner, "Well do you want me to cut it off and send it to Grandma?"
No matter how many times we heard this (and there were many times) my sister and I would stop whatever whimpers we were using and stand in stupified silence contimplating if the pain would subside if our appendage was cut off and sent to Grandma. I remember once that she actually went to the kitchen drawer and got some scissors out because I had said, "Yes. Send it to Grandma.." just to test her seriousness. As soon as the scissors were brandished, I ran for my room, partly amused that my Mother could carry (what I thought was) a joke so far, yet at the sametime a little frightened about her dedication.
When she would tuck me in at night she would give me a kiss, and then say, "Good night. Hand to your heart. You know you're my favorite daughter." I would then hear her enter my sister's room, would acknowledge the sound of a kiss being administered, and then would hear, "Good night. Hand to your heart. You know you're my favorite daughter."
To this day, the sister and I still sign cards or send presents noting that they are from "Her favorite daughter."
From a very early age, Mom taught us about sex. I can remember being in Kindergarten, reading the fabulous book Where Did I Come From, examining the cartoon drawings of genitalia and sperms with top hats, etc., Mom explaining the different aspects of 'sexual intercourse.'"You know, this book is really good at explaining an orgasm. It is like a sneeze. Except with not as much snot. But if you really think about it..... oh, nevermind. Let's turn the page."
By the time I had hit middle school, I ran into the pre-puberty phase of being embarrased by all things related to sex. I would hug my father with my ass sticking so far out as not to remotely come in contact with his crotch area. I remember my Mom always reminding me that, when I got my period, she would throw me a huge period party. This idea mortified me. I pictured having party favors in the shapes of fallopian tubes and eating grapes that had been soaked in pink food coloring to resemble ovaries- all to make sure the menstrual celebration theme was carried out. This is why I hid the fact that I got my period from my Mother for close to a year. Finally, about two months after my 16th birthday celebration my Mom came into my room, very concerned. "Ladeeleroy, I don't want to frighten you, but you really should have gotten your period by now. I was a late bloomer as well, but Jesus Christ, you're 16 now and should have gotten it. You haven't been participating in Russian gymnastics behind my back have you?"
I asked her what she meant.
"Because that's the only logical explanation I can come up with. Those girls don't get their periods until they're 30. It's weird. If you're participating in Russian gymnastics, you can tell me."
I was so enthralled with her humorous approach to the topic that I told her my full story: my fear of the period party, the idea of writing thank you notes to her fellow Goddess lovers thanking them for the vagina crystals, etc., all came pouring out. She took it extremely well although I think she was a little hurt that her daughter, that had been so open with her about everything before, wasn't open about the one thing every daughter and mother should celebrate.
I to this day regret not telling her sooner. Oh well.
On road trips, she would do voices for the cows and other various animals we would pass on our travels. One particular instance that is burned in my brain; a large white cow is standing in the field, tail stiff in the air, ready to add another member to the cow patty families that had created their own suburbia. Mom takes on her cow voice and starts in with "Oh Jeez. Oh Jeez-us. The tail is up again. That can only mean one thing. Time to take a dump. Oh Jeez-us." My sister and I start giggling and then she said, "Hey you kids. Hey you. What the hell? What the hell are you laughing at? What you've never seen a cow take a dump before?" And then she starts making the heaving/pushing sounds of the cow extracting her bowels. My sister and I are dying. About to piss our pants. And then the cow does its business and my Mom says, "Now that's some Bull Shit right there." I loose control of my bladder. My sister is doubled over. It was funny.
I guess you had to be there. My Mom does a really good cow impression.
But now I am out in the real world, gone from her apron strings for the last 5 years. My sister is in college, doing her college thing and Mom is all alone in the house.
And she loves it.
"I am making the kitchen look so funky. You would not believe how funky the kitchen is now. When I say funky, I really mean Funk. Eee."
"Me and the Ya-Ya's (close female friends) had a pot-luck and we howled at the moon. I think we pissed Doyle (the neighbor) off because he kept turning on and off his lights. I was saying to myself, 'Whatever. Flickering lights aren't going to make the Ya-Ya's stop howling.' Especially when we just finished a box of wine."
"I tell you what. I may be 52-years-old, but I know a fine ass when I see one. And that boy had a fine ass. So what if I could be his mother. He still had a fine ass."
"I was watching Oprah today and I tell you what, that Dr. Phil's kind of a jerk. I don't like him. I don't think Oprah should either."
I got this message on my answering machine the other night:
"Hey there sweety. I just wanted to let you know how much I love you and what a blessing it is to hve you in my life. I am so proud of you and you're growing into a beautiful, smart, and funny woman. I am so glad I had you..... I also wanted to let you know that tonight is the anniversary of your conception. Yep, 23 years ago today, your Dad and I were getting it on. And you know what? I'd do it all over again....Have a glass of wine and relive being a zygote for the evening...Love you much. You're my favorite daughter. Hand to your heart."
It's just shit like that that makes me hope that someday I'll be able to pass on the excellent parental skills that she used with us.
I'm already sharpening my scissors.