My 11 Mothers

Who are the Mothers in your life? Here’s a short tribute to mine on this totally made up holiday……

Those who are now gone
I had two Great Grandmothers who lived for a good chunk of my life. My first Great Grandmother (my mom’s dad’s mom) passed away right before I turned 18. She taught me to speak up for what I wanted in life. She never let us eat in her living room, though she ate most of her meals there. She always had cookies in tupperware on the table or counter when we came in. She was kind and had the softest skin I can remember. Education was very important to her and she paid for me to go to summer camp one year where I would have the opportunity to visit a college campus for a week. I didn’t learn, until after she had passed, that she was a school teacher.

My other Great Grandmother (my mom’s mom’s mom) passed right after I turned 24 and graduated college. She taught me to be loving. She used to make us lemonade by squeezing lemons on a small juicer….by hand! She would give us HUGE bear hugs that made you feel as though this 5′ nothing woman was going to snap your spine. She was strong and opinionated, but always had the most cheerful smile. She forced my cousin and I to write letters to each other as we were growing up and we are still friends today. She had the most beautiful penmanship of any person I’ve ever met in my life.

Those I’m cherishing before they go
I am very lucky to still have both of my Grandmothers still alive. They both still live in Iowa, so it stinks that I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like and my boys only see them once or twice a year. I grew up with two Great Grandmothers that I saw on the regular and wished the same for them.

My dad’s mom is the one I vacationed with in summers growing up. She baked cakes and huge boxes of cookies at Christmas time. She made lots of interesting foods including pickle rolls and Russian meat pies, and cooked Greek food for my Grandfather even though she wasn’t Greek. She wore rings on every finger and some of her toes and always had short hair. She made a lot of her own clothes and my aunt’s wedding dress, plus the bridesmaids’ dresses, my flower girl dress, and her own mother of the bride dress. She is a female jack of all trades and her voice reminds me of Piglet.

My mom’s mom still lives on the farm that my family spends and has spent most of its holidays. She is a member of the red hot society and worked for as long as I can remember for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. She served tea to every president from JFK to Clinton before she retired. She has a stern look to her when she wants to and loves to play cards. She’s always been very involved in her church and is a hard worker.

Those of my mom’s generation
My parents each have a sister and my mom has a sister in law. My three aunts are very different and have all been there for me in differing ways. My dad’s sister is not my biological aunt as he is adopted. However, I always thought that we looked alike when I was growing up and I idolized her sense of fashion. She is also my Godmother and the aunt who recently had a stroke. She is young (still at the start of her 50’s) and was my first influence in the world of fitness. I have an entire post that I am currently searching or photos to complete to honor her place in my life.

My mom’s sister is a quieter and more book worm version of my mom. She’s political and well read and so independent. She lives in a house that she bought herself and for some reason that seems like one of the most amazing accomplishments to me. Maybe it makes me proud as a feminist to know a woman who just did her own thing with her life. She is consumed by her job and often works so much that she forgets to cash her checks or pay her phone bill. She has helped me in so many different ways to achieve my educational goals in life and I truly cherish the times when we take vacations with her, my mom, and my sister.

My mom’s sister in law was at first my secret nemesis. She didn’t seem to fit as she came into our lives kind of quickly and I was young enough to feel jaded by change. However, as the years went on, my aunt turned into “the cool aunt”. She has a tattoo on her back….a large one. She does her own thing and kept her youngest daughter at home instead of sending her to preschool. She taught her to read and write and a whole lot more. She set the standard for many of the ways I look at parenting myself. She and I have never been close in the way my other two aunts and I are, but I miss her just the same when I don’t see her for long stretches.

The one who left the door open….in case I need it
There are some mom’s in your life who aren’t even a part of your “family”. When I was in high school and my parents were splitting during my senior year, I found my other mom. She was my high school swim coach. She gave me a job babysitting her son when I needed to quit my other job and still have a way to make money. She told me that her door was always open in case I needed a place to get away…..literally, the back door was never locked and I was welcome to go there any time. When I was dating my high school boyfriend she told me not to fall too deep in love with someone unless I knew I could really trust that person. For me she knew that that meant really open myself up and let someone else do for me things that I normally would only do myself. When I got married the first time and I was sure I could depend on someone that much, she told me to make sure I truly knew the person so that I didn’t wake up one day and roll over to look eye to eye with a stranger. That’s a bit of advice I still wish I’d taken more seriously. Coach (as she’s called in my family) will always be my second mom and not just mine, but all three of my siblings. She’s been there for so many of our major life events and is full of life and curse words that I could never bring myself to say. It’s hard to describe a love like that.

The feminist past
I seriously thought about cutting this portion of my post for today, but I think it’s an important part. Like I said, I’ve been married before. I don’t want to get into the this and that of why I am no longer married to that person, but his mom was my first mother in law. We butted heads a lot in the 8 years she was in my life. Mostly because my ex-husband was an only child of a very strong willed, opinionated, educated, and feminist woman. He then married someone just like his mom and I proceeded to take her place in his life……and that took some adjusting on both our parts. However, this woman pushed me to be more than I was when I first met her. She did her entire undergrad in 3 years and graduated at the top of her class. That way she and her husband graduated at the same time and could move forward with their lives as planned. She got a masters and then a PhD while raising my ex. She worked and worked and worked to get tenured at her job and ran almost every day. She set a high standard for me to meet and one of the greatest regrets of my divorce is that I lost that role model in my life.

The southern belle
My mother in law now is a polar opposite to the first. Both hailed from the south, but are very different in their upbringing. My mother in law now is very affectionate and hugs and kisses us every time we see her. She tells me she loves me every time I talk to her. She wears matching everything and is never seen in public without her hair done and make up on. She goes to have her nails done on the regular and watches TLC. She has 3 true loves in her life: my niece and two sons. I couldn’t imagine a woman who is not me or my mom to love my children more. They are the light of her life and that makes me happy to share them with her. She is sensitive and caring and hates to have her picture taken. She loves chocolate and if you watch the Goldbergs….she’s the original yenta. I look forward to many more years of watching her with my children and seeing them snuggle up to her with the same love that she exudes back at them. I know she’ll always be there for me if I need her.

The one and only
So, then there’s my mom. The one and only who gets that title forever. There are not enough words to express the love I have for this woman. She has been my supporter, my enemy, my friend, my shoulder, my defender, my jailer, my guiding light. My mom and I have had an up and down relationship over the years. I think I was a little more than she expected. But, throughout it all she’s always been proud of me and behind me. I could go on and on about all of her many wonderful qualities (she’s hardworking, loving, sweet, funny, smart, inventive….) but the pages would be endless. So, I’ll just say this:

God could not be everywhere; so he created Mothers.
That sentiment hangs on a sign in my mother’s kitchen and it doesn’t belong anywhere more perfect than there.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women out there!

L-R: Mom, me, Mom’s Mom, Mom’s Mom’s Mom c.1980