Mother’s Day is the perfect occasion on which to reflect on how completely our mothers shape us into the flawed and wonderful creatures we are. My mother, for example, has been doling out advice (note to self: do not say nagging) since the day I was born.
Most of her little gems are unorthodox; many of them aren’t suitable for polite company; all of them remind me how ridiculously charmed my life is, that I was begotten by such an exceptional woman. So, for your edification, a few words she’s given me to live by during the past 23 years:
“Girls can do everything boys can do. Plus, they can have babies.” My mother repeated this so stridently, in fact, that one of my earliest memories is being three years old and feeling profound pity for my father for having to live in what was obviously a woman’s world. Now I realize the advice was rosy-colored, but, thanks to my mom, I understand that being a feminist means making your own choices. Even if that choice is the unpopular decision to stay home and rear a family full-time.
“A good boy shows up on your doorstep, carrying bagels.” Sure, you can cry over the bad boys while you’re waiting for your future bagel-bearer, but the guy you should ultimately end up with? He’s going to be all over you like a cheap suit. And woe to him if he underestimates the bagel-lust that runs in my bloodline.
“Always test the merchandise.” Bless her heart, my mother demands her children’s lives be well-rounded in every aspect. Which generally translates to lengthy phone chats filled with salacious sex advice. I’m not saying she actually went so far as to sign me up for couples’ pole-dancing classes with my college boyfriend, but…
“Dull women keep immaculate houses.” Take the dining room table in my childhood home, for example. Used for: impromptu arts and crafts, school science projects, tax audits, sewing lessons, weird decorative candle exhibits. Not used for: dining in any form.
“You don’t stop flirting ‘til you’re dead.” Sure, she and my dad have been happily married for more years than she’d like me to publicly admit, but every time she picks up the phone or walks into a store, she spackles on the charm with a dang spatula. I have her example to thank for a lifetime of reversed overdraft charges, same-day service calls, and free baked goods.
When I have a daughter of my own, I look forward to repeating all the instructive bon mots my mother has passed on to me over the years. Especially the off-color ones, ‘cause what’s the point of having kids if you can’t occasionally embarrass them? And if I can live up to one half of the extraordinary example set by my amazing mother, I’ll count myself a success.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. And I promise — every nagging email is a blessing.
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