Friday, May 9, 2008

"If You Don't Mess Around, You Won't Have to Say 'I'm Sorry' "

On Friday morning I thought to do a post about my mother this weekend, in honor of Mother's Day.

A few minutes later my mom called me with a "short speech". She gives it every year. At least I think it's every year. I hardly pay attention. It's something about how she doesn't want us doing anything, she's fine, I gave her a mother's ring and she loves it and then this thing, and blah, blah, blah, she wants for nothing more than to have me for a daughter....

She ended her spiel with, "You may want something different for yourself on Mother's Day, and you should have it. If you want your children to kneel at your feet, that's how you can have it..."

I interrupted, "Funny you should say that--right now Bo is kneeling at my feet as I wipe his bum."

He really truly was. I am invoking the don't-ask don't-tell policy on my blog with why I am still wiping my almost 5 year old boy's bottom. (Just so you know, I have given the edict that I will not be doing such things once he turns 5---yesterday I tried to encourage him to "practice" and he yelled, "I'M NOT FIVE, I AM ONLY FOUR AND ELEVEN MONTHS!")

Anyone who knows me IRL knows that I am a huge fan of my mom. I feel like I scored a million times over in the mom department. She is wise. She is witty. She is smart. She is savvy. She is talented. She is practical. She loves pink. She is faithful. She is compassionate. She is many things to many people, but her kids are mostly just glad she's our mom.

My mom is 72 years old. At a carnival one of those age-guessers guessed her at 63. I'm not sure what 72 really looks or acts like, but I am certain that number doesn't reflect the energy and youthful looks of my mom. I had hopes of inheriting those attributes, but it's not looking so good for me already.

A little over 3 years ago my mom had some important decisions to make regarding her health and everyone was telling her what to do. After hearing about everyone trying to boss her around, J said to me, "Ang, your mom is 70 years old, she can do whatever she wants." When I repeated that to my mom, hoping to make her feel empowered by J's comment, there was a long pause. Then I heard her voice, slow and deliberate, "Tell that brat he's being taken out of my will. I am not 70."

When my brother Daniel was in elementary school she stitched on the back of his off-brand jeans "Danache" to compete with the rage of "Jordache". He was a hit in the 6th grade.

She will tell you if you are wearing the "wrong" colors. If you don't know what that means, you've never met my mom.

In my family, we pride ourselves on being funny. Being the funniest, is all we ever want in life. We can be disgusting, illiterate, slobs, but if we are funny---we have achieved. We had a rule growing up, "It's funny the first time, the second time it's stupid, and the third time, you get slapped." We learned early that being funny was a talent not to be abused.

It wasn't until I was about 19 that I realized it was my MOM that was the funny one. I had spent so much time demanding things from her, thinking she was totally unhip, wishing she wasn't out to ruin my life, that I never stopped to realize how completely hilarious she is.

She is the master of joking with a completely straight face. Sometimes it gets her in trouble. Once at church she approached my friend and her husband and said, "This isn't your pew, what are you doing sitting here, you're going to throw everyone off!" She was mortified when she turned back a minute later and saw them moving to another pew.

My mom always assumed I was faking when I was a little kid. I probably was. However, when I was about 10, after feeling sick all day , she came home and asked, "Did you practice the piano today?" I moaned about how sick I was and she started to comment on how convenient it was that I was sick when it came time to practice the piano or do my chores. I promptly yakked in her rose bushes. I remember feeling vindicated that I could do it on cue like that. (First time I had ever thrown up in my life!)

I went inside to sulk on the couch and got sick again. I ran to the bathroom, but being an inexperienced yakker, I missed. I left it all over her bathroom floor and returned to the couch to sulk. I showed her!

A few minutes later I heard my mom yelling, "What on earth!? You're no kid of mine! MY children don't MISS!" Looking back, I think that is so dang funny. At the time, I was so mad. Of all the times to finally agree that I WAS adopted...

I never thought twice about the mess I had just left all over the bathroom. She silently cleaned it up and let me sulk in peace. I never realized the work she did to keep our house running, to mend our clothes, to soothe our hearts and minds, to teach us to read, to be respectful, to say our prayers, to mind our manners, to love God, to be kind, to work hard, to be a good person, to change our underwear, in case we're ever in a car accident, to clean our rooms, to feed us healthy meals, to keep us in clean and fitting clothes, to work hard, to memorize scriptures, to do a hundred other things that mothers do that don't get put on resumes or certificates of achievement.

When I was in the 5th grade I got nailed in the face with a whiffle ball. Don't judge man, those things are brutal. My face sort of exploded with blood. I had blood all over me. I was quickly rushed to the nurse's office, which was through the main office where my mom happened to be passing through at the same time. The gym teacher stopped abruptly, I'm certain anticipating a freak out from my mom. With my head tipped back, peering through eyes blurred with involuntary tears and past all the blood, I looked to my mom. My 8th born self fantasized she would sob and wave her arms frantically yelling, "Mah baby, whatevah happened to mah baby!" She looked me up and down with her usual straight face, turned to the gym teacher and said, "Is it a tooth?" The teacher said no.  "Good," said my mom and she walked away. I laughed. I knew better than to expect anything more than practical or necessary.

When my mom reads this, she'll say this never happened. She thinks I embellish. If I were to embellish, it SO would not be a whiffle ball that made me bleed like a stuck pig. I'm just sayin'.

When I was in the 6th grade I won a speech writing contest and had to give the speech in front of my whole school and the Mayor of my town. My mom made me dress in a horrific outfit that I knew would make me the laughing stock among children and grown-ups alike. I'm not sure how she persuaded me but I showed up with the ruffly shirt and vest and velvet skirt, and somehow survived. All the adults complimented my outfit--a lot. It was then, at the tender age of 11 that I realized, perhaps my mom wasn't completely clueless.

Whenever we saw an accident or ambulances at a scene, she taught us to look away. "If you were the one hurt, you wouldn't want people staring at you in that condition." Now, as an adult, I wish more people had moms who told them that.

When I was about 14 I had a few friends over one night to hang out. We were sitting around the coffee table playing a game. My mom was pounding out a song on the piano, background music of my childhood. My mom shouted above the notes she was playing loudly, "I want this played at my funeral, but I want to change the words to the 3rd verse." I heard phrases like this my entire life. It hardly registered in my brain. I looked up from whatever I was doing and saw the horrified looks of my friends. That was fun.

When I was 16 my mom trusted me to make good choices. Her trust in me compelled me to make good choices.

When I was 21 I served a mission for my church. I was gone for 18 months. My mom wrote me every single week of my mission without fail. My friends came to love the letters from my mom. They were always filled with scuttlebutt, completely irrelevant to me. But very funny. She had helped a friend "pound out the final draft" of a paper. She commented, "It was a lot of bump and grind near the end." I remember gasping and then practically convulsing with laughter when I read that. My childhood is fraught with her misusing phrases like that. This one however, she got "educated" on by my sister, but didn't feel it warranted a true edit.  At the end of the letter, a small arrow pointing to the "bump and grind" phrase, she wrote, "Sara says this doesn't mean what I think it means---I thought it referred to the polishing of rocks. I guess not."

When I finished my mission, my mom came to meet me and travel home with me. She wanted me to show her around and give her a guided tour, like I had been doing for the last year and a half for perfect strangers. I was too embarrassed and wouldn't do it. I regret that immensely now, but as much as my mom may have wanted it, she didn't pressure me and let me make my adult decision. Even if it was dumb.

3 years ago my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. She had come to Utah to help me with the birth of Avee. Even though my mom was 69 and I was 29, the woman could do circles around me with productivity. Her visits are coveted, vied for, schemed for, pled for, dreamed about, and truly cherished.

Two weeks after she came to Utah and 9 days before Avee was born she was in the hospital scheduled for surgery. In one short afternoon after Storytime with Bo, we had an urgent care visit, ER visit, and hospital admission. I'm sure she was scared, but she encouraged me to take my 22 month old home so he wouldn't miss his nap and so I could get a break.

She was in the hospital recovering from surgery when I was one floor below delivering Avee. Two days later J drove home all three nigh-helpless girls. We had a grand time "recovering" together. I was fine, but I'm a hypochondriac, so I alternately acted like a newborn or like I was recovering from major surgery.

All of J's and my goals in life are geared toward one end, "How can we get Grandma Cheryl to come and live with us?"

When I make mistakes in parenting, which I rarely do, my mom kindly and non-judgmentally explains why what I'm doing might not be the most effective. She has helped me become a better parent in so many ways.

I can call her for no reason and we can talk for an hour about nothing.

She doesn't get offended when I am bratty or tell her how it is with all my infinite wisdom. Sometimes she thinks I'm insightful, and sometimes she tells me to go jump in a lake.

When I gripe about one of my siblings, she changes the subject.

She gets excited with me when Avee gets potty-trained.

She taught Bo to read.

She tells me the truth.

She knows who my friends are and loves them too.

She can dress entirely in pink and not look ridiculous.

When she laughs really hard, you can't help laughing too. Even if you don't know what you are laughing about.

She is passionate about thrift store shopping. And she's really good at it.

She is the guardian of a mentally retarded woman who is just a few years younger than her. She makes sure she is well cared for, clean, dressed well, has a good birthday, spends time with people, and is loved. Most people don't even know she does this.

If we say we need her (even if it's more want than need), she comes. Even if it isn't convenient.

She adores her grandchildren and they adore her.

She is the single most wonderful woman that I know. If there is one blessing I couldn't live without, it is the blessing of having her as my mother.

Happy Mother's Day Mom. I promise I didn't embellish.


Beckie said...

Nobody, you must be God's very own angel. You're mom is lucky to have you as her "favorite", sorry S but a truth is a truth (LOL), and you are lucky to have such a wonderful woman for your mom. What a great tribute!

glittersmama said...

Happy Mother's Day!

Traci said...

I've been spending the last 13 or 14 years scheming about how I could steal your mom. Seriously. (The truck ride to Wichita/Topeka was part of that scheme, you just didn't work out...) She is a true gem. And this post captured it all. (Love you, Cheryl.)


Camille said...

This is beautiful. Your mom is amazing. She is always thinking about how to be helping someone. I remember one time Fanua and I were out visiting you, and while we were out there your mom sent us over to some older man's apartment to clean it up for him. I love the way she never lets an opportunity to help pass her by.

I have to say, I was dying laughing out loud at your dad's joke.

Leslie said...

she sounds positively wonderful. what a lovely post, happy mother's day, angela!

Mamarazzi said...

this is a beautiful post! i seriously want our mom to be my new BFF...she sounds awesome and we both heart the color pink, i think that is a good foundation for lasting friendship!

Happy Mother's Day

Coordination Queen said...

What a wonderful woman. Happy Mother's Day!

Cyndi said...

This post made me cry big drops. Your mom is all that you say and more. I am honored to call her my mother-in-law.

Cindy said...

Happy Mother's Day!! You sound a lot like your mom. Thank you for sharing stories from your childhood, your mom sounds like a wonderful woman!!

Again, you made me laugh!!

Sketchy said...

Happy Mother's day to you and your gem of a mom!

MommyJ said...

loved this post nobody... nothing is better than having a good Mom. I know that cause I got one too.

Hope you had a great mothers day!

Barnecked Lady said...

love the title!

S said...

Becki so better be quite!!! :) LOL Today she came to my aid after short notice with her breakfast in a plastic veggie bag n cottage cheese container.
I am pretty sure I can kick you and J's a@$ if you even TRY to get my momma. If you don't mess around you won't have to say your sorry.

S said...

BTW beautiful post. Right on sista. She makes me laugh every. single. day. Sometimes its just wrong.

S said...

If you don't talk about people behind their back you won't have to say your sorry.

Suzanne said...

I think nobody may have a Mom as awesome as Nobody! What a wonderful tribute. She sounds like a fantastic lady and now I now where you got your sense of humor from! :)

swampbaby said...

This is such a beautiful tribute to your mom, I just had to comment. It got me all misty-eyed. If someday one of my kids writes something even half as heartfelt as this about me, I will know I have succeeded as a mother. You are blessed to have her, and she is blessed to have you as her daughter.

Rebecca said...

happy mothers day to you... you are lucky to have a great mom, and to be one too!!!

Tori :) said...

I LOVED this post! Do I comment that everytime??

Will you write a post about me??? You can absolutely embellish all you want.

Brei tMama said...

Oh my gosh! I have tears! You did not embellish. Can she come and stay with me though. I am pretty sure I need her!

No Cool Story said...

The only thing I regret about my trip to MO was not spending more time with yo mama and S (I had some extra people with me).
You mom is a great lady and she's hilarious! I se where you get your witty funny bone.

No Cool Story said...

And she's truly classy lady :)
YAY for Nobody's mom.

RING LEADER #2 said...

I love your mom, she is a great lady. We just spent Mother's Day with some friends from our ward and their mother reminded me of Cheryl...glasses, hair cut and her made me miss home.

I loved the times when we would go over to your house and spend the night. We would sneak out and I remember asking if your mom would get upset. "She sleeps with ear plugs." you would say. Yet we would still roll the car to the end of the street as not to wake her.
She is a person without guile and one that truly cares for others. You didn't's all true. And I think I remember the incident with the piano and if I wasn't there then it just feels like I was.

Booo said...


Epsi said...

I don't think I should recount the first time I met Cheryl. It's too funny for this blog.

S said...

ps mom and glenna are same age:) lol