Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Other Side of Mom

Recently I posted a rant about my Mom, stating that she was driving me crazy with her Drama Queen ways.  Of course, as soon as I had done that she found an opportunity to demonstrate all her best qualities to me, and I felt I had been a bit harsh.  AUGH THE GUILT!

(I have always preferred the Charlie Brown official spelling of "augh!" to "aaaaahhh!"  It has more character.)

So now I must redress the balance.  By no means do I retract anything that I wrote previously.  I am simply adding to the portrait to make it more whole.

Firstly, my mother has always fed me well.  It's not only that I never went hungry.  It's that she went to great pains to feed me the best food available.  For many years, store-bought cookies were not allowed in our house.  Soda was only permitted on special occasions.  Even when she was a single mother living on a shoe-string budget, she never brought home fast-food take-out (or any take-out for that matter) or frozen TV dinners.  I had a hot breakfast every winter morning, a homemade lunch pre-packed the night before, and a from-scratch dinner.  She got a lot of mileage out of the slow cooker.

Not only was her food nutritious, but it was and is very tasty.  She makes a mean beef brisket, and mighty tasty roast chicken.  She also makes the best birthday cakes on Earth.

Which brings me to parties: always the happiest time in our house.  She would cook up a big feast, and task me with setting the table with polished silver candlesticks and fancy napkins.  The whole family came over around once a month to eat and laugh together.  Of course sometimes there were tensions, but mostly everyone had a pretty good time.  You couldn't eat my mom's food and stay in a bad mood.

She also threw fantastic birthday parties for me when I was a kid.  She planned games for the kids to play, helped me to fill the loot bags, and made Hamburger Men for lunch: a burger patty head, mashed potato afro, pickle slice eyes, a ketchup smile, and carrot stick body, arms and legs.

My mom was a librarian, so she encouraged my love of reading, which has been lifelong.  We still lend each other books, since our tastes overlap.  As soon as I was old enough I loved to go to the library to pick out my own reading material, but she was always happy to supplement it with interesting fare. 

For instance, I was laid up with a bad cold when I was 12 years old.  She brought me a big old hardcover book called The Microbe Hunters.  This book is a history of the development of microbiology first published in 1926.  Just the kind of thing you'd expect a 12-year-old girl to be interested in.  I remember reading about the scientists who filled an arena with sheep and experimented on them by injecting them with viruses.  It was kind of disgusting but I did read the whole book and was glad in the end that I did.

More recently my mom loaned me a book on the history of glass.  Again I was somewhat nonplussed at the choice of subject, but I read that book too and now I know more than I ever thought there was to know about glass.  (Apparently the way that large plate glass windows are made is to float a wide, shallow river of molten glass over a river of molten metal, and at the end of the line the glass is cooled and the metal is recycled back into the river.  The production line can't be shut down at night or all the metal and glass would cool and solidify.  There, aren't you glad that you know that?)  I credit my mom with my endless interest for random knowledge.

Both of us also read books with more obvious interest.  Waiting on my shelf on loan from my mom is The Hare with the Amber Eyes.  I also know that she received a copy of The Immoratal Life of Henrietta Lacks for her birthday, and I'm angling to borrow that one a.s.a.p.

My Mom has the capacity for a deep appreciation of art and nature.  She is a romantic, and an idealist.  She is very intelligent, but also very modest.  She has a vast range of interests and is always studying, the better to be prepared for her volunteer position as a docent at the Royal Ontario Museum.  Our best times are when we go out exploring together, having mini-adventures at local historical sights or poking around in the shops in unfamiliar neighbourhoods.

I hope that my Mom and I have more time to spend together appreciating our better qualities.  There's definitely no one else quite like her.


DarcKnyt said...

I suspected this post would come on the heels of the other one. I find it fascinating how we, even as adult children, can be made to feel unfair about assessments of family and parents in particular.

For the record, I didn't form any full, irrevocable opinion based on your last post about your mom. I'm glad you're objective about everything concerning her. :)

LL Cool Joe said...

Maybe your mom read your blog post and thought she'd show you her more loving side? :D

I feel like this sometimes, I slag my mother off on-line, and then she's nice to me and I feel guilty. No one is all bad.

Your mother sounds like a fascinating person.

Jenski said...

If your mother wasn't so wonderful, it wouldn't be so frustrating when she is being ridiculous! :-)

My sister tucked The Life of Henrietta Lacks in my bag last time I was at her house. I am definitely looking forward to reading it!

kenju said...

My mom and I had a sort of love-hate relationship, but she had many good qualities and was able to hide her weirdness from everyone except me and my dad. I'm glad yours isn't a total loss

Warped Mind of Ron said...

We are all a grab bag of qualities and quirks. The ones that drive you crazy are the easiest to remember right now, but the ones that matter are what you remember for the rest of your life.

Jameil said...

"By no means do I retract anything that I wrote previously. I am simply adding to the portrait to make it more whole." LOL We get it. We all have infuriating relatives who can still be wonderful people. My mom wasn't a proponent of soda, anything frozen (except veggies), food in cans or boxes or fast food either. I grew up obsessed with fast food. I famously ate a whopper a day in h.s. once I had my own money. LOL Could you post one or two of your mom's best recipes? What about you guys' favorite books? I would love those! I read Henrietta Lacks' but only really enjoyed the personal parts. The more scientific parts lost me.

ileana said...

Your mom sounds like she has some wonderful qualities...and of couse, no one is perfect, not even our mothers, yet we love them you've demonstrated with this sweet and loving post.

Hope you and your mom share many more good times together!

G said...

I'm like that with my mom as well.

Nice post about the positive things that your mom does.

Lynn said...

Your mother sounds as if she made things fun.

I understand the guilt - my mother and I always had a rocky relationship. She has Alzheimers now and of course, that changed everything.

Claire said...

Loved this post. It's always good to see both sides of the coin. :)


Sparkling Red said...

DarcKnyt: You are an astute judge of human nature. Only one thing I must clarify: I am objective about NOTHING concerning my mother. ;-)

LL Cool Joe: She is fascinating. She has always underestimated her own intelligence. I think she could easily have been a professor of almost anything, if she had more confidence.

Jenski: Exactly! My mom is so clever that it drives me crazy when she acts without using her common sense.

Kenju: Recently someone I know and trust met my mom for the 1st time. She said "Oh, she has such a calm and peaceful aura!" I was like, are we talking about the same person? It's funny what people outside the family see vs. those of us on the inside.

Ron: I can't imagine forgetting anything about my mother. She is a memorable woman.

Jameil: I must admit that I don't have my mom's recipes. I am such a lazy cook. Someday I should sit down with her and copy all her favourites. They are scattered amongst her dozens of cookbooks, with little notes pencilled into the margins.

Ileana: Thank you! I think we will do fine in the long run. At least, I'm confident that I've done my best as a daughter, so I don't plan to have any regrets in the end.

G: Thanks! I guess all mom-kid relationships have some element of this push-pull of emotions.

Lynn: She really can make things fun when she puts her mind to it. When I was very little she made up a character called "Jerry Drip" to stop me from crying when water got in my eyes in the bath.

Claire: There are two sides to every argument, especially the ones that take place inside one's head!

DarcsFalcon said...

Like Darc, I figured you'd have a post up like this sooner or later. Our Spark is nothing if not balanced. :)

Your mom seems like a nice lady, interesting and with her own brokenness that all of us have. Some brokenness can be dealt with and it sounds like you can mostly deal with hers, just as I'm sure she deals with yours. :)

You are fortunate Spark. Really. And I'm sure you know that. :)

Pixiebaby said...

This is a lovely post. It's obvious even when you are ranting that you love your mom dearly. She sounds really interesting, with such a broad range of interests. Hope you don't feel guilty about getting it off your chest at times. We all need an outlet and sometimes our relatives make us crazy!