Mother's Day is right around the corner, so it's only appropriate to share some thoughts on moms. While I consider myself a mom to the Bitches, one could make the argument that my human childless existence makes me unqualified to write about motherhood. I always felt like I became a mother in the moment when Joey was still evidence in the animal cruelty case (she was rescued from a puppy mill) and I realized I would do anything to keep her safe. It was instinctual, my job to protect her.
One’s relationship, or lack of relationship, with his/her mom has a profound impact on his/her life. I have always considered myself one of the lucky ones, even when my mom drove me nuts. And, in her defense, I am sure I drive her more nuts. Like when I was in middle school and would slam my bedroom door and crank up Pearl Jam’s “Daughter” or giving my blog a name that Facebook forbids boosting posts due to creating a hostile environment with profanity. FOR THE LAST TIME, I AM THE ONLY ONE USING THE WORD CORRECTLY. Suck it, Zuckerberg.
Nuts or no nuts, the lady has taught me many things, from the practical such as cooking and a bit of sewing, to personal values, like the importance of hard work, education, and finding the humor in every situation. I take that last lesson a bit farther than she does, to the point of survival, but let's just call it social evolution. As I was out running, I started a highlight list of the most important things Marilyn has taught me.
First, sometimes your profession chooses you. My mom was a high school teacher for nearly 40 years, but also studied journalism. She excelled in writing and photography. She could have taught for a few years, then continued her education and pursued a news-related career. Well, a blind date to the movie, “Shaft,” a marriage, and three kids later, she was a teacher for life. A damned good one. I used to harbor a bit of guilt in thinking that I played a part in the death of my mom’s dreams. I imagined her as a little girl, running around the farm, interviewing cows or something, and pretending to be a reporter. But her reassurance coupled with a life filled with accomplishments and lives affected made me realized that teaching was meant to be a huge part of her life’s journey.
She also taught me that a parent never forgets how you treated his/her child. Once, when I was out of high school, she said that she had run into the parent of someone who was in my class. That parent told her how much she appreciated my kindness to her child. Apparently, her child was struggling a lot, something that I didn’t realize at the time, but told her mom that I was nice to her. I didn’t remember doing anything out of the ordinary and I have to say that Marilyn seemed more proud of me in that moment than when I won an election or hit the winning shot.
You may or may not know that I haven’t had a drink in years. The reason I mention that is because another Marilyn lesson was that the worst pain in the entire world is to see one of your children hurting. She said she would take any physical pain over that. I know I must have put her through some pain over the years with my bullshit. For that, I am sorry, but I am also hopeful that I keep growing into a person of whom she can be proud.
One of the ultimate lessons of Marilyn is that homemade is better. You could be talking food, clothes, or in the 1980s, Cabbage Patch Dolls and denim slacks. She used to make me jeans and call them denim slacks to torture me. The Cabbage Patch dolls were pretty boss, though. My little bro had one named Pete that went on a variety of trips all over the country. The current favorite homemade item is a Marilyn quilt. I have a few at my house to curl up in and cuddle with the bitches. Bitches and Marilyn quilts, that is prayer shawl-level safety.
I’ll end with my favorite Marilyn lesson. I should preface this by saying that I never had a boyfriend until I was out of college and barely had anything considered a date prior to that, so advice about dudes wasn’t solicited often. When I actually did date, I didn't pick the best dudes. When things would inevitably not work, Marilyn’s sage advice, “Sometimes you gotta kiss a lot of frogs before one turns into a prince.”
Permission to be a slut?*
I was blessed to have a rad mom who deserves love and praise everyday of the year, not just on some Sunday in May. So kudos and hugs to Marilyn. I try to be a good mom to the Bitches--I sure had a hell of a role model.
*Marilyn doesn’t want anyone to be called a slut. She wants everyone to be comfortable and make well-informed choices about sex and dating. She probably will read this so the potential mom guilt forced me to add this disclaimer. Find the humor. Find the humor.