Happy Mother’s Day!
One of the songs my mom used to sing around the house, perfect MUSICA for Mother’s Day. ♥
There she is now, darling little girl, in Iowa where she was born, with her Christmas doll, her two brothers, my Uncles Bob and Dick. Honestly that sweet face you see is the one I grew up with.
She adored dolls, the second she had the chance, she got herself a real baby all her own.
Me. Her own real live doll. Now she could dress the baby and feed the baby (and comb the baby’s hair) and it moved and drooled and cooed. She had her own Betsy Wetsy. She was 17 years old. And I was the lucky girl who got her for a mom.
That’s my Frank Sinatra-ish dad (the one you know so well, on his best behavior in this photo) holding my brother Jim — Jim came 13 months after me and became one of my very best friends, it’s his birthday tomorrow. My mom is 18, Uncle Dick is 17, and that’s my Grandma on the right.
By now I was my mom’s partner in crime, the “other mother.” These were “our” children. That’s Jim and our second boy Stephen with my Uncle Dick. The outfits, which I am sure Dick just loved, because what 21-year-old boy doesn’t want to dress like a four-year-old, were from my great-aunt Josephine. I thought Dick looked like Elvis Presley.
This is me and brother number three, Chuckie. I could knock on the wall of my bedroom and he would climb out of his crib and come and sleep with me. Terrible picture of him because he was truly the cutest of them all, as you will see in the next photo. He was over ten pounds when he was born and I think he got a little smashed.
Well, maybe not this picture, Stephen is the cutest of them all in this one, but for sure, the next one.
There he is, bottom left. Isn’t he darling, we called him Butterball. In addition, we now had Brad, the sweet baby at the bottom. The little girl on the right was my Uncle Bob’s little girl, Coral. Bob was in the Navy and was raising Coral alone, so she came to live with us while Bob was at sea. Hey, what’s one more. We needed a blonde.
The only time my mother could get us together (apparently) is when we were in our jammies.
Because that’s what we’re wearing in so many pictures. By the way, now my first sister is born, Paula. Finally a girl! And she’s a mom now, Happy Mother’s Day Paula!
That’s Chuck, Brad and Paula in our kitchen which, if a grilled cheese sandwich could turn into a kitchen, this is the kitchen it would be. My mom and I bathed the babies in a pink rubber basinet in this kitchen. I kissed her goodbye on my way to my Girl Scout meetings while she stood at that stove, sterilizing baby bottles. I learned my right hand from my left standing in front of the silverware drawer on the right of the sink in the back of this photo. And for the rest of my life, when I need to figure out which is which, I have to orient myself ”in front of the silverware drawer,” and then I know. When I was 16 and taking my driving test, the examiner asked me to turn on the right blinker and then the left. My mom was in the car, he was behind the car, and I panicked because I didn’t know which was which, couldn’t picture the silverware drawer and was too nervous and frantic to figure it out fast enough. I said, “Mom, which is my right?” She said, waaay too slowly, “Well, Sue, you know…” That’s as far as she got, I cut her off … “MOM!” I hissed. My eyes were on fire, “TELL ME.” She understood and told me and I passed my driver’s test. A person needs her silverware drawer. Is that really asking too much?
My parents would put us all in here with sleeping bags, pillows, corn flake boxes, the dog’s food, diapers, and playpen – and drive eight hours up to the High Sierras where we would camp in a musty smelling tent for a week in the forest, under the trees, cook our food over an open fire, hike and fish and try to lure squirrels all day. I still remember the smell of the sleeping bags, of hot dirt and pine needles, of bacon and coffee in the morning.
Now we have another baby, my second sister, Mary. I was lucky, for almost the whole time I lived at home, we had a new baby every two years. It was such baby world in our house, every day, every holiday. My sister Mary is a mom too, Happy Mother’s Day Mary!
And here is the baby-for-life, the last of the eight, my 3rd sister Shelly. I liked to arrange special hairstyles for the girls when I gave them a bath. She’s been my best friend from the beginning. She’s a mom too, she has twin 10-year-old boys. Happy Mother’s Day, Shell!
You notice there aren’t a lot of pictures of my mother so far. That’s because she was always on the other side of the camera, and we were too young to take it away from her. Here we are, looking at one of her dozens of photo albums. What I need to do one day is to scan all her photos so I have them on the computer. So many good pictures in her books!
The tables have turned and now we take pictures of her. This is us in Las Vegas three years ago for a family reunion and her eightieth birthday (I should really call that birthday what she called it — her seventy-tenth). Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
She taught us all how to dance . . . this is her with the baby-for-life.
And here we are out on a boat in Vineyard Haven Harbor — that’s Shelly, me, Mom, and Chuckie. Joe took the picture.
There was life after children. My mom actually wanted a baseball team when she began having children, not realizing that managing a baseball team isn’t quite the same as playing baseball. Anyway, she was an outdoor girl, and took up tennis, and those medals around her neck were just a few of the silvers and golds she won playing in the Senior Olympics. ♥
She ran out of places to put all her trophies! She gave me two of them, I have them here in my studio. I’m very proud of my little mommy.
For more reasons than one. When I grew up and could really see what all she did for us, the sacrifices she made, how non-judgemental and encouraging she was, I realized the role moms play in the world. How important they are. The most important job in the world. How they do it with the tiniest things that mean everything to children, a hug, a look, a pat on the head, a kiss goodnight. I thought it would be nice if Moms had more support. They did what they did with no gold stars, no raises, no one to say, “GOOD JOB.” Her gold stars were ← her children’s artwork.
I think I saw the loneliness in my mom’s face on some of the tough days when the house would fall into normal chaos, and it stayed with me. I tried to say thank you while writing my first book, not only to her, but to all moms, to help them know that what they do, and did, really does matter. My mom (and dad) gave me a stable childhood, something every child deserves — I think if they had it, the world would be a better place. That’s why moms are so important. And the more support moms everywhere get raising children, it just follows, the better our world would be. Because no matter what the circumstances, they are capable of being shelter in a storm, just by being there. I celebrate Mother’s Day deep in my heart, it’s another chance to tell my mom what a FABULOUS, WONDERFUL, HEAVENLY MOTHER she’s been to me. ♥
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you nurturing loving women! What a difference you have made. Have a wonderful weekend. XOXO