I am blessed to have a mom that I also consider a friend. I know not everyone can say that, so I truly mean that I am grateful. We have always had a good relationship; even through my small rough patch as a high school junior I didn’t have those typical teenage feelings of angst and embarrassment against my mother. I was proud that she was so chic, and fun. I have a specific memory of her rolling up to my softball game sophomore year in a black bodysuit, tan trousers, and black pumps. She may or may not have had a perm at that time. My heart says yes, she probably did, which only makes the visual better.
I have always enjoyed my mom’s presence; I enjoy talking to her, being with her. I caught up to her in height when I was in 7th grade, and I used to try to hold her hostage in my room. I wanted to be with her. It was a compliment. She understood my humor well. There was a time when I was 14ish that I called her work to notify her co-workers that although she was too embarrassed to admit it, after all these years she had decided to change her name to Reba. She was tired of being a Becky. She laughed with me when she returned from work, having had to set everyone straight that she did not, in fact, have a desire to be called Reba. She used to make me laugh too. She had an inability to order at a drive-through fast food restaurant. She would pull up to the speaker, start to place an order and burst into giggles. I would lean over and shout our order, as she usually couldn’t contain it. I’m proud to say that she has overcome this ailment in her golden years. Sometimes funny things would happen to us. Over Spring Break senior year mom drove my best friend and I to Pismo Beach for a day trip. We had just lain our blankets down in the sand when a teenage boy came out of nowhere and threw himself down onto our blanket. With lotion in hand he asked, “Can one of you rub this on my back?” He turned around, pleased with himself, and realized that my mom was standing with us. His horror was palpable. “You’re a mom!” he exclaimed as he got up and ran away. We didn’t see him the rest of the day. My best friend is now my sister-in-law, and we still laugh about that day.
Most importantly, my Maja is not only fun, she is wise. She leads by example in commitment, faith and generosity. She has a set of life rules that are very specific to her; some were spoken aloud over and over as I grew up, and some were demonstrated by habit. The very clear knowledge that the following rules are completely her make me wonder what rules, spoken or non, that I am imparting to my children.
What I have learned from my mom is:
One – Pray: It’s no secret that Gramma Becky is a praying machine. She was no joke when I was growing up either. When in doubt, pray it out. She went to God in all matters. She still does. When I have a prayer request she is the first person I contact, because I know she is serious and committed to her time with God. This demonstration of faith was crucial to my development as an adult. My prayer life is a direct reflection of her modeling. I know to go to Him in all things. Similarly, she would wake us up with praise songs, or encourage us to sing them as we worked together weeding the bank, or pruning the Crepe Myrtles. It is hard to be upset when you are worshipping God.
Two – Floss: I hate to admit this…. but I just don’t. Sorry mom! I have to apologize to my dentist twice a year as well. He always looks at me in disbelief when I openly admit that I am an educated individual who doesn’t floss. I’m not sure why I can’t figure out how to add this to my daily routine. I bought the floss. I set it out on the counter. I dust off the floss when I’m cleaning; but I rarely open the floss and pull it through my teeth. Oops.
Three – Wear Sunscreen: This was probably mom’s most repeated verbal mantra, and one I have been pretty good about following, once I got past age 20 where I tanned myself regularly in a tanning bed. The classy stickers I would apply to my hip bone for a trendy tan line is almost as helpful as sunscreen would have been. “Wear sunscreen everyday!” What an ironic twist that she was the one to get skin cancer on her nose. When I point this out to her she admits that there was a time in her youth that she wasn’t a fanatic. I guess she really learned her lesson.
Four- Create Tradition: When I was growing up in the Central Valley, we had a wonderful week to look forward to each summer on the coast in Cambria, Morro Bay, and Cayucos. We spent hours on the beach, digging in the sand. My siblings boogie boarded. We ate ice cream. We perused the shops. We ate shrimp and chips and clam chowder. We made s’mores. We talked about Bigfoot at each felled tree. Now, decades later, my sister and I and all of our kids go back to that beach with mom every summer. We spend hours at the beach, digging and boogie boarding. We eat ice cream. We take a day trip to San Luis to see a movie and visit Bubble Gum Alley and the candy shop. We go kayaking. We play cards, and Yahtzee and eat s’mores. We soak each other in. It is the highlight of my year. Every year I hope that when I become the grandma, I will be there with the crew; reliving our traditions and creating new ones.
Five – Don’t Litter: This was one crime that mom just couldn’t tolerate. Driving and witnessing the tossing of a wrapper out the window would always lead to a rant. Just. Don’t. Litter. I am proud to admit that I am batting 100 in this category.
Six – Wash your Linens: This woman believes in clean sheets and towels. I mean it. She washes her towels every single day. How dirty can they be after one use? You get into the shower and come out as clean as you’ll ever be. Certainly they can handle a couple of uses before being washed??? Not in her eyes. She washes her sheets every week, the lazy bum. She also makes her bed every single day. I make mine when someone is coming over, or if I’m cleaning house. She deserves some sort of extra credit for her commitment to cleanliness. Note: I submitted this draft for approval to my mother, and she admits that she has relaxed in her washing, and only does towels every other day now. So I take it back; she is not meticulous, but a real pig.
I’m sure that the minute I hit post I will remember a whole other slew of “Becky-isms” to share. I have learned a lot from being my mother’s daughter. I am so curious to find out what my “Amber-isms” are to my children. I hope they will look back on their childhoods as fondly as I do mine. As a mom I am constantly reflecting on how to improve our lives. Thinking about my mother’s legacy has left me planning for my own. I want to impart love, faith in God, generosity, a love of books, cultivation of tradition, and the importance of family to my children. Like my mom, I hope I am on the right track.
Happy birthday, mom. I love you.