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She could have been a doctor, but she’s just my mom

It’s my mom’s birthday today. She is 73. Sorry mom. I suppose divulging your age is the first rule of lady code I just broke.

Well, I say wear your age proudly. Because when you’ve lived 73 years and seen what my mom has seen, I think you just throw your hangups about age out the window.

My mom is my compass. She’s my lighthouse in the dark. She is my mom and that’s my everything.

I am probably one of the luckiest humans to have such a woman in their life that breathes into her hope, inspiration and security.

My mom doesn’t have it easy. She takes care of my sister, who is disabled. Mom has had her own bout of hardships. Three joint replacement surgeries, a life saving surgery when her intestine was blocked and she could have died. OH, and she’s a cancer survivor. So, there’s that.

Also, when you’re born in Frankfurt in 1941 you are surrounded by a world at war. To think this little being and many others like her, came in to this world under Germany’s darkest years. But if there’s a light one can not extinguish even during this dark period, it was my mom coming forth. Little Uta. I think she was born speaking and solving problems, but that’s just my admiration for her. I know she was a regular little girl, a person with her own hopes and dreams before she was my mom. It’s hard for us as children to picture our parents as people. I mean, you’re telling me they had lives before they devoted it all to us? Indeed. This is a hard fact for my own children to accept sometimes. When you wear the badge of ‘MOM’ it’s hard to be seen as anything else.

Sure like other children, I have fond memories of the way my mom smelled (Chanel No 5 during the 70s) and the smells of her kitchen too. We would have her homemade pizza every Saturday night. We watched the Muppet Show from our kitchen table my dad built. Kermit was smaller then on the 18 inch color television that wasn’t even remote control yet.

But I also have memories of my mom when I was in high school and college. The morning after a late night out, she would sit on my bed while I would sip a cup of tea she brought me. I’d share details of the night like I would share to a girl friend. I would preface certain stories with, “Okay, you’re not my mom right now, what I’m going to tell you.” And she would listen without raising an eyebrow. She didn’t judge or scoff. Let’s be real though. I was a pretty square kid. I didn’t really drink, I never did drugs, I was usually home by midnight, and my male conquests were theater boys I would crush on from afar only to find out they were gay. Translation- I didn’t get much action in college!

So there really wasn’t a whole lot for her to judge me on anyway. BUT, I still felt comfortable sharing all my funny stories, crazy happenings when there were some, and girl to girl details only other women get.

I remember one time either in my early adult years or when I was still in high school, my mom and I were having a heart to heart. In one of her somewhat bleak moments, she said to me with tears in her eyes, “You know, I could have been a lot of things. Maybe a doctor. Maybe a scientist. But I’m just a mom.”

It broke my heart. How could this woman not be satisfied with anything more than being my mom?! Had she been a career woman and not stayed home with her kids, what would life have been like? Selfishly, I was glad this was all she was. My mom. Our mom.

But I told her that she is more than ‘Just a Mom’. She is patience, and trust, nurture and light. She helps the downtrodden, she advocates for the helpless. She friends the homeless and the addicts. She counsels the stranger she strikes up conversation with.

She is an amazing woman that is more than just a mom. But a person who betters this world just by living in it. She raised me and my brother and sister. She looks after my dad and is his partner of 55 years. She reads and swallows up information by the libraries. She is one of the smartest people I know. She can cook up a pie crust and help you with your 401(k) paperwork. I don’t know how this woman does it.

Did I mention she moved here from Germany when she was 17 after marrying my dad? They had my brother a few years later and within less than 10 years had their own two children and fostered troubled children. Mixed race children in the 60s! They took a road trip with their black foster daughter and their own two children down to Atlanta. The guts they had. This is how my parents live. By example.

So yeah. You turn 73 with 3 grown kids of your own, 4 grandchildren, a husband you’ve been married to for 55 years; you wear that age proudly.

And mom,  if you ever think you’re ‘just a mom’ and there was something else you could have been, think for a minute the lives you’ve touched. The ripple effect of what your living has created. How there should be more people like you that are as selfless, reliable and loving. I have never been more proud of you to just be my mom.

Happy birthday.

 

She could have been a doctory but she's just my mom by Frugalista Blog

My mom in the 1950s.

Work at Home Moms- WAHM. Not to be confused with 80s pop sensation WHAM.

Everything needs a label these days and it’s driving me nuts. Do you work at home? Do you stay at home? Do you work away from home?

Are you a SAHM, WAHM, or WAFHM? What? I know! I’m confused too!!

When I chose to have kids, all I wanted to do was just not go back to the job I was currently at. My husband and I saved up my income so that after the baby was born, I could be home with her.

Then it worked out that the company I was employed with went out of business. There wasn’t a job for me to return to. I loved staying home with Emma. I couldn’t imagine having to arrange my lifestyle to go back to an office and leave her with someone. It just never occurred to me.

HOWEVER, I never did mind anyone that did make that choice to go back to work after maternity leave. We all have different reasons why we want to. So who cares?

But it seems lately if you are a mom, you need a label as to what you do with your time. Here’s my rundown of the latest.

Do you work at home doing a job for a client or a boss and check in remotely? That’s a WAHM. Work At Home Mom. This is tricky. Then you have to keep the kiddos occupied while you get your job done. Maybe you have someone come and help with the kids or you take the kids to day care. This might save you from commuting to an office, but still allow you to get some work done. Maybe the kids are off to school while you work.

Or do you work at an office? This is a WAFHM. Work Away From Home Mom. Then you have the same situation of dealing with childcare, commuting, and even if the kids are at school, someone has to be there for them when they come home.

Finally, there’s the moms who stay at home with their kids and don’t get paid anything from anyone. That’s a SAHM. Stay At Home Mom. We know what she does. Wipes up spills all day and poo and puke,  entertains, is a concierge, laundress, cook, nurse, craft adviser.

Then there’s the SITMVAD. Stay In The Mini Van All Day mom. She can be a combination of some of the above and this at the same time. Some may call this a Soccer Mom. I just call it a mom who is busy and needs to drive all over creation for her kids.

Don’t forget the mom we all went to be- SAHWWM. Stay At Home With Wine Mom. This needs no explanation.

Not only is this a handy guide to some of the acronyms you’ve been seeing lately, it’s also a good reminder that ALL MOMS WORK FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

And I respect each and every one for the jobs they do.

The next time someone asks what I do, I will say, “I’m a mom”. And that should be enough.

 

 

Mom on Strike

Dear Family,

This is not the NFL. No replacement refs here. No SCABS.

When you wake up in the morning, get your own damn waffle. You can reach the toaster.

Pack your lunch.

When you can’t find your socks, look in the drawer. Or the dryer, or the hamper. Have you ran the washing machine? It’s not magic, it doesn’t run on its own. Oh and don’t just load the blasted thing, put that shit in the dryer, then FOLD. IT. Yep. Guess what? Folding and putting the laundry away is THE BORING part. Uh huh. You may think ‘you’re all that’, putting them dirty clothes in the machine. But that don’t make you a hero.
The battle is in the taking those socks, making them into sock balls. Taking t-shirts that are inside out and putting them right side in.  Or out. Whatever. Oh dear GOD how does every motha fuckin’ shirt get inside out in the wash??? I don’t take off my shirts and put them over my head like that. Is that necessary?

Okay, moving on.

Garbage on the floor. Throw away your own furkin’ wrappers, kleenexes, band-aids, used ones especially, popsicle sticks, gogurt tubes…. oh my gads, is this a frat house??? Throw away all toe nail clippings. I shouldn’t have to ask you twice.

After dinner, if I’m at a PTA meeting, you know one of the many things I do for free, don’t just pile up the dishes on the counter over the dishwasher. Put them IN it. Put the pans in the sink. Put away any leftover food in the refrigerator. Oh, and this is big, WIPE. OFF. THE. COUNTERS. I know it’s hard. It can be yucky. What, all those crumbs and spills. Yeah, disgusting.

If I make the danged dinner, least you can do is clean up after it.

All your clothes and random belongings need to go up to your room. That means all of you. I’m tired of looking at your thermals, hoodies and soccer shoes. Why are there always socks in the family room? Hair accessories are the same. Do they multiply like bunnies? Why are there always bobby pins and hair elastics in every room of the house?

If you have a dish in a room of the house, other than the kitchen, put it away. I don’t want to find your milk glass in your bedroom two weeks later.

Toilet paper needs to be replaced on the roll. How many times do I have to say this? If you are using the last roll, go get several more from the bathroom cupboard.

If you use the last milk, go into the garage fridge, and get the next carton.

All tools need to be returned to their proper place. That means a roll of tape goes back in the office. A hammer goes back in the garage.

Please don’t leave Nerf weapons randomly on the stairs. Someone will trip over them. Okay, I will trip over them.

Now that we have that established, I think I’ll go to the spa, and then eat bonbons watching an entire season of Boardwalk Empire on DVD from the library.

Someone call for pizza.

German cooking is more than Schnitzel.

What is it with food reaching into our souls?

I’m not a food blogger, and I don’t have beautiful pictures of food to go with my words that compare to a Bon Appetit spread.

But I wanted to share my mom’s talent for bringing us around the table in gastronimic harmony. My brother flies in from Chicago to have roast goose and Yorkshire pudding. My kids want to stay the night at her house just so they can eat ‘Oma’s food’. She’s the pied piper of her kin.

Mom was taught the old fashioned way. Put in the kitchen as a young girl in post World War 2 Germany with her Tante and her Oma. She watched, stirred, sliced and learned. She watched her Oma snap a chicken’s head off for Sunday’s dinner. This chicken was her pet at some point. But hey- this is post war, you’ve got to eat.

My early memories of food also consist of porridge. Porridge is what we called it growing up and what my parents call it. My dad is English, maybe this is why. I always felt like Goldilocks, but I never thought it was ‘just right’. I didn’t like porridge as a kid. But that’s what we had Monday through Friday and you ate it. No question. I couldn’t wait for the weekend when we could have cold cereal. But now I realize as an adult. My parents make really good porridge. It’s funny what you think is gross as a kid. But get used to. Then go off to eat it somewhere else and then realize, ‘hey, this is really gross, they don’t know what they’re doing.” So now I appreciate my parent’s porridge. A pinch of salt. That’s their trick. Not everyone knows this.

The majority of my memories of my mom’s cooking are good (minus the zucchini or cream of mushroom crepes she made when I was 5). Her cooking is the kind of cooking you come home for. The kind of cooking holidays center around. My German mother would make a pizza every Saturday night. She would start with making the dough. There would always be sausage on it and sometimes mushrooms, which I would only appreciate when I was about 15. I picked them off when I was 6. We would eat pizza and watch the Muppet Show every Saturday night. It didn’t need to be Italian, it was just damn good crust made by a German. She’s mastered pie crust, tart crust and bread crust. We like crusts.

Christmas was roast goose that she would flame with a splash of brandy before my dad would carve it. Oh, and my dad can carve better than Chuck Norris. I’m certain. If there was an Iron Chef carving contest- my dad would win.

Red cabbage simmered with apples and vinegar. So German. So good with goose gravy. Goose gravy that she would make for days before with all the giblets and whatnot that comes inside the carcass in that little paper baggy that 80% of Americans throw away, I’m sure. Mashed potatoes mashed only to the brink of fluffy. Not too much so they get gluey. Another mistake of most cooks. Cream, butter, onions. The trifecta of all good things made in the kitchen. Julia Child style.

What’s strange is my mom can cook really good Thai food too. How funny is that? She rarely makes (make that never) speatzle, she says it’s too much work to make. She doesn’t do schnitzle much either. But everything she does has her signature. The signature of decades in the kitchen and knowing what the heck you’re doing. She can make gravy that is rich and dark and poultry that is tender and not cooked a minute passed to the point of dryness. White meat that doesn’t need the gravy. But to not pour it over everything would be a crime because the gravy is so good.

Making Christmas dinner at my house this year, I was searing the prime rib to put in the oven; and I felt confident in my abilities. I thought, everything I do in the kitchen is because I watched my mom, ate her food, asked her questions and now I can do the same for my family. It’s really a bonus when I teach her something she didn’t know. Maybe she just pretends she doesn’t know to make me feel good. I stepped aside though for her to make the Yorkshire pudding and the gravy. Why try to paint Monet when Monet is standing there with a paint brush?

I think people who can cook well,  have an intuition, an instinct that can’t be learned from books or classes. I think they are people in day to day life that listen, care and are compassionate to humanity (except Gordon Ramsey, he blows this theory wide). How else would they know to fluff a meringue to perfection, slice plums for a cake, season green beans like summer in a bowl? There’s a nuance that is captured between the food, the cook and who they cook for. It might be love. Yes, it’s love for sure when it comes from mom.

Yep, that's mom and me slaving over the dinner. WIth Champagne.

Ahh, the sublime Yorkshire pudding. An English staple perfected by a German. It's not really a pudding, more like a pancake. Leftovers taste good in the morning with syrup. Who am I kidding? What leftovers?