My mom is my person. She knows me better than anyone else, probably better than I know myself. She is the only person in the world I want to hug the entire time we’re together (I’m not much of a hugger). She’s the only one I can always look in the eye (not much for eye contact either). I think we feel things the same way. We know the same truths. We are not the same, but we are part of each other in a way that I am grateful for every single day.
We talk every day even if neither of us really has anything to talk about, but if I’m being honest it’s usually about me and what I’m dealing with and how I feel. I was home last weekend for an early Mother’s Day/Birthday celebration and made sure to squeeze in some time to talk to her about what she thinks and how she feels for this piece.
Who was your role model as a kid?
My role models were always my sisters. I always thought they were cool and I loved their clothes and I wanted to be just like them. And then as I got older I realized that my mother was someone I should have paid more attention to. I should have asked her more questions like this, I should have asked her more about her life: who she was, what she thought about things, what she was like when she was a teenager.
What did you admire most about your parents?
They were always together. Looking back, they were each other’s support system and I realize now that’s so important in marriage. That’s why they lasted so long.
Were you ever involved in anything that you and your parents didn’t see eye to eye on?
Oh gosh, a lot of things. My parents were very socially liberal, but defined by their age group. I think my dad didn’t know what to do with me. Being a girl and being so hard-headed and opinionated and self-assured, being one of five daughters, he really did not know what to do with me. I don’t think he had any clue. He never tried to squash it either, he just didn’t know how to handle it. He wasn’t ready for it, but he let me do what I wanted.
When did you realize you were a woman?
When I had to get my first bra in 4th grade. It was horrible, the worst thing that had ever happened. The uniform at Queen of the Rosary was a white shirt so you couldn’t go without one, but everyone could see your bra lines. I can’t remember the boy, but he told everyone he could see it and made fun of me. Everyone laughed and it made me cry.
What do you think you inherited from your parents?
My good skin and how important my family is to me. It’s like my compass. Everything is about my family.
Did you ever have second thoughts about getting married?
No, but that’s because it worked and I love my husband. But I really don’t believe a woman should marry before 30 because you don’t really know who you are until then. From when you get out of college to when you’re thirty, you’re gonna be a completely different person and your husband is going to have to appreciate those changes.
I think there’s something in men, they have a certain confidence. I don’t know why, but I think it’s important for women to know who they are before they get married.
What was it like being pregnant with me?
I had the same experience with both of you. My hair was great, my skin was great, I loved being pregnant. I felt healthy. I was more nervous with you because you were my first, but I remember when I went into labor with Aaron, I started crying and I had a panic attack because I remembered what it was like with you. After you have a baby you just forget how much it hurts.
But I remember being lonely after your brother was born. Everyone is all excited when your first baby is born, but not as much for the second one. I remember being worried that I would hurt your feelings if I paid too much attention to Aaron.
What is your proudest moment as a mother?
I loved when you were in first grade and you could read. I always knew you were a reader, but when someone acknowledged it, it was cute. It was so hard for me to read so I was really glad you loved it so much. I love when people acknowledge what I already know about my kids.
When do you feel your best or most beautiful?
After being in the sun – I love being in the sun. I know I’m not supposed to say it, but I love being tan. I love being in the ocean and coming back and taking a shower and feeling everything wash off. You feel really pretty.
Do you feel like as a woman, you’ve made compromises in life to get where you are?
Sort of everything. I wish I would have started working out before I was in my thirties. I was putting my family before myself and taking care of myself just wasn’t a priority. I should have started taking care of myself earlier – just to feel better.
At my job that I had for 23 years, I never really pursued more than I needed to because the kids came first. Even though I was a working mom, I made sure I was home for the kids. I knew my husband was out working so everything was easier, but kids were my priority. Maybe I should have tried different things or moved around a bit.
In what ways do you think I’m like you?
The worst way you’re like me – do you want to hear it? You’re hard on people. And I’m hard on people. I’m hard on people who disappoint me; people who hurt me or the people I love. It’s hard for me to trust people once I’ve been betrayed. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a good thing.
I think you’re a lot like me. I think you worry too much about other people and it gives you anxiety. I don’t think that’s good. I try not to let other people worry about what I’m worrying about so I won’t say it out loud. I keep it to myself. And I think it’s because your dad’s a worrier, so I’ve had to be the not-worrier. I think you’re like that too.
We’re very empathetic. Our experiences with our family and issues that we’ve had have taught us. You pick up on something in other people who have dealt with things like that. You pick up on that right away.
What do you think makes us different?
You’re a lot like your father. You worry way too much. You worry about things you cannot control and it is so frustrating. You need to worry about what’s in front of you, not like ten steps in front of you. You should probably take up some kind of yoga or something.
You are a control person like your father. You can control what you eat, you can control what you drink, you can control what you say. It takes you a lot longer to warm up to people than it does for me. You’re more cautious than I am.
Is there anything you’ve always wanted to tell me but never have?
I wish you had a little more spirituality in your life, and you don’t. I think that’s important. I wish you would trust people more and be more open to people. Until you do, you’re not going to find more people to be open with you. I think that’s about it, those are big ones. I think you know everything.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Of course I am. I don’t see how I could be anything else. I think even my mother was a feminist in her own way. Going on the birth control pill in 1967 when it came out. She’d had enough after seven kids. It was just how we were brought up.
So what does being a feminist mean to you?
Standing up for myself. Not having to be like my mother or my grandmother. They didn’t have choices. And I think that’s the worst thing is for women not to have choices – with everything about their lives.