My mom is my adorable and tbh, I don’t know a kinder, gentler, more humble, or more sincere woman. She texts me things like: She saves all her Loft coupons, including the ones that expired a year ago, for when I come home so that I can help her shop and tell her what she looks good in, (everything). And yet, I’ve never seen a woman internally struggle over the idea of spending money on clothes or material items for herself. I call her multiple times a week, usually with nothing to say that couldn’t have been answered in a text, just because I like to hear her voice. This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, I got to call her with a little more purpose.
This is the question I was most excited to ask: If there was one day or event you could relive with me, what would it be?
It wouldn’t be one day; It would be my time in college at Lakeland. When I was in school I always wondered, if my mom was my age in college with me, would we have been friends? So I’d like to relive it with you as friends.
Why? What about college?
I was always the responsible Pastor’s daughter, I cooked, cleaned, and took care of my brothers and sisters. But socially….I was really backwards. I never even talked to a boy when I went to college. Then I got to Lakeland and all of a sudden I talked to boys and they liked me. I had a fantastic time, wonderful friends and we’d sit together in my dorm at night – they all wanted to be in my dorm- and tell stories and laugh and dance. It was the most fun I’ve had in my life and it was all about the people. I grew up there and I figured out who I was as an adult. So I would like to have shared that with you. I think you might have enjoyed it. I always hoped you’d have that experience in college but I’m not sure you did.
Note: No, I did not.
What do you admire about your parents?
Everything! Everyone admired my parents. They were always there but they didn’t hover. They were never old; They were very accepting and non-judgemental. On the other hand if my dad said “No,” you never asked Emma. If Emma said “No,” you never asked Papa. My mom is someone I always wanted to be around. She was always fun and she’s always known how to get joy out of her life no matter what phase of life she’s in. That’s a real gift. I don’t know if I have that in me. We very easily transitioned from being mother-daughter to being good friends. I love that, I absolutely loved that. I’m counting on that with you and me.
But I still need my mom for ~mom things~ sometimes, (ahem, “Help me, I’m poor.”)
I still need my mom sometimes! But there’s a lot of ways to need a mother.
What is one thing you wish you could have done but never did?
Live in an apartment. I went from living at home to marrying and living with dad. I never lived in an apartment- just a dorm and an apartment in Germany.
[Yeah, but you lived in an apartment in Germany, so…]
What was it like being pregnant with me?
I loved being pregnant. I LOVED being pregnant. I absolutely loved being pregnant every time. I didn’t have to hold my belly in. I never had any sickness, any issues, and I loved. But with you, I needed you to be a girl. I love my boys with all my heart but you just had to be a girl.
[She then repeated, “I loved being pregnant,” -no joke- a dozen more times.]
What about your decision to have me (and my siblings) at home? Why did you choose to do a home birth?
I never looked at giving birth as an illness, I knew my body was meant to do that and I wanted to let it. I never wanted to be unsafe, but I wanted to do it the way I wanted: naturally. I had a doctor present and I was close to a hospital. But I didn’t want anybody to manage me or interfere. Everyone I love could be there — the whole family — and we all had a glass of champagne after. And you know these doctors would only allow it if you were low-risk and I was.
Did you ever feel judged or like anyone else in the family disagreed with your decision?
Nope. If anybody thought something they kept it to themselves.
What about dad?
Dad wanted what I wanted and he let me decide.
What about grandma and grandpa (Dad’s side)?
They never said a word and they were there for the birth.
…I can show you the video! I have it!
What were your dreams and aspirations aside from having a family?
I always assumed I’d go to college even though none of my relatives did. I’d always assumed I’d go to college but never thought I’d have a career. My dad told me that you get part of your identity from your career and I didn’t believe him at the time. After college, my dad didn’t like that I worked at Church’s Fried Chicken so he gave my resume to his friend who worked at United. My other dream was to travel so I wanted to work at United so bad I would have cleaned their toilets for work. Initially, my dream was to work a few years, to “beat” the job, then I would quit so I could stay home to raise the family. That was my dream but it changed. What I wanted changed and I loved my career. I always felt a conflict from being away from my kids and working so much, but I stayed at United because I wanted to. My dreams changed.
Do you feel like you’ve ever had to make compromises as a woman?
I felt more of the pressure and responsibility to work and also to take care of the kids and to cook and clean. I think in part that’s because I took that on myself. It’s not that Dad wouldn’t have helped, but I sort of assumed I should do it all. I was part of that in-between generation where you’re supposed to manage it all – the career, family, and household duties. I felt pressure to do it all, but I also wanted it all. Maybe I robbed Dad of some of those responsibilities that he would have liked. I think, maybe, in this next generation there will be more focus on splitting things evenly.
When do you feel the best? Most Beautiful?
Dad makes me feel that way. He’s always said nice things and made me feel good. I also think in the summer you tend to feel better. For me, after I’ve been out working in the yard all day and carrying bags of manure, and then going inside to clean up and drink a beer, that makes me feel good.
I was eager to ask you this because I’ve never heard you talk about feeling beautiful.
I’m not stupid – I’m 62 and I know I don’t look bad. I work hard and I work out to look and feel my best. But, you know what, you help me feel beautiful, too. You compliment me and say nice things about us looking alike and that makes me feel good.
I’m going to tell you that you look beautiful everyday, then!
Well don’t because then I won’t believe you. Someone complimented my shoes at my guitar lesson and I said “Oh it’s my daughter. She made me buy them. She keeps me from buying old lady shoes.”
What about when I felt the most luckiest?
The few years after you were born. Erik was 8, Brett was 4, and you were my baby and I felt like the luckiest person on the earth. I got to spend a few years just with my kids when they were little. That picture in Hawaii of me holding you, I can remember sitting there, holding you, thinking “How could I be so lucky?”
I have been very lucky.
At this point I said “thank you” and “I love you” and told her I would probably call her again to chat tomorrow. I thought we were done talking for the night. But my mom had one more sage thought to pass on to me…
Do you want to know what I HATE more than anything?
I hate dressing room mirrors. Every time I think I should never be naked again.
Don’t say that. We need to be body-positive.
You’ll be 61 one day and you’ll look in dressing room mirror and say “My mom told me about these.”
Haha, okay, mom.
I have been very lucky.