Over the last few months, Obvi, We’re the Ladies has given me a place to challenge myself as a writer and let myself be more vulnerable to those around me as I share parts of my life I wouldn’t necessarily share with them otherwise. When the opportunity arose to interview my mom, I took it. I knew that writing this would not only make my mom happy and serve as a great Mother’s Day gift but it would also be a challenge for myself. I will be the first to admit that my mom and I are not the shining example of a mother-daughter friendship as exemplified in our beloved Gilmore Girls (We were addicted for a few months last spring).
As I’ve grown older, our opinions on not only clothes but politics and life in general have altered and contradicted one another. I am the dirty liberal daughter they always feared and my mom is sort of the Southern conservative mother, in other words, we occupy very different social circles. I also believed that this interview would give me a chance to see my mom beyond our difference in opinions but also beyond her role as my mother.
What were you like as a child?
Being the baby of the family, I was a people pleaser. Tried to keep the peace. We had a lot of outside animals and I loved playing with the kittens. I loved when they momma cat had her kittens and we had to go and search for them. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we didn’t go without. I didn’t like doing outside chores.
Is there anything in your childhood you wish you could have changed? Why?
I wish I didn’t have such a serious boyfriend in high school. When you have a boyfriend in high school, you miss out on fun times with your friends. Most of the time you are worrying if he is happy or mad or sad. I missed out on a lot of fun times with my friends because I thought I had to be with him 24-7.
When did you realize you were a woman?
When I moved in my own apartment and paid my own bills and didn’t rely on anyone but me.
What dreams and aspirations for the future did you have beyond making a family?
I really wanted to be an English teacher and not live on a farm.
What is your first memory of Dad? What kind of a person was he when trying to date you?
Mark and I had been working together for the same company, but didn’t know each other. Back in my younger days, happy hours were a big deal and I couldn’t wait until I turned 21. My birthday fell during one of these happy hours. Unexpectedly, a guy co-worker came up to me. He gave me a quick peck on my cheek and said that was from Mark Nobbe in engineering! I said “WHO?” The guy said that I should come up to engineering and find out.
I was intrigued! The next Monday, I did just that! Mark was definitely not like the country boys I normally dated. He was a full-fledged city guy through and through and from Chicago. We began talking and dating and after a few months, I started going to church with him. I’m going to be honest and tell you it wasn’t to work on my relationship with God! I went to church to impress Mark. Your dad loved going to the farm and spending time with my brothers since he didn’t have any brothers and he grew up in the city. I remember him telling papa that he thought cows were the same size as german shepherds.
Why did you choose to be with my father?
He is a hard worker and great provider. His parents were still married and I knew he valued marriage. And he put up with me.
What’s the best thing that Dad has ever done for you?
He moved me to Houston, although it took me a long time to realize it. He also had a surprise birthday party when I turned 40. I love how he never gripes that I don’t cook a lot or if the house was messy or if he has to eat soup or cereal. He’s very content.
That you’ve done for him?
I gave him two great kids. I also had 2 surprise birthday parties for his 30th and 50th birthdays.
What was it like being pregnant with me?
You were an easy pregnancy. I worked full-time and taught step aerobics. We were so excited for you. We didn’t know we were having a girl. We were going to name you Justine Elizabeth – I craved chocolate milk and Kit Kats.
Was it different with my siblings?
Well, I had a spunky 2 year old and we moved 6 months into my pregnancy.
What is your proudest moment as a mother?
There were many. I guess some of my favorites were when you were on stage. I was proud when people would tell me what a great girl you were.
Tell me about one day or event that you wish I could relive with you.
I wish I could relive all your lasts with me – the last time I nursed you, the last time I gave you a bath, the last time I read a book to you, the last time I drove you to school.
What are some of your favorite smells, sights, sounds, places… do they remind you of a place or time or person?
I love to smell lilac bushes. I love looking out the window of airplanes. I love when you and Matthew are upstairs and you are both laughing together. I love going to Disney. I miss all four of us being under one roof.
Do you feel like as a woman, you’ve made compromises in life to get where you are?
No, I always hoped I would be able to stay home and raise my kids. I haven’t made compromises, I have made chosen sacrifices.
Do you or have you ever identified strongly with any movements?
Breastfeeding in public. I think people should be able to feed their children wherever and however they want.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I don’t think so. I’m ok with a man making more than me. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinions and relationships. What works for one relationship may not work for another. It’s not our place to tell others what is good for them.
If so, what defines your feminist viewpoints? What makes you a feminist?
I do believe women are capable of running companies. I don’t like when people say “she’s only a housewife.” Running a household is running a company. I hated filling out applications and having to put my occupation – I started writing domestic engineer because I thought it sounded cooler.
This interview has given me a chance to see my mom beyond our differences and beyond our social roles. I have learned so much more about her and was able to see her as more of a person. I am very grateful for the sacrifices my parents have made for me, especially in regard to my college education and support of my dreams of the future. I hope she enjoys reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this piece. I love you and you have a wonderful Mother’s Day even though we are over 1,000 miles apart.