Last week for Throwback Thursday, I kind of threw my mom under the bus (only metaphorically) with a post highlighting how she had managed to make one little red dress of mine stretch across half my childhood, two states and multiple holiday celebrations.
This week for Throwback Thursday, I’m cheers’ing to my mom. Today is my birthday, and as all of us moms know, if anyone deserves a party, it’s the MOTHER of the person who’s having the birthday.
I love our old family pictures. I think part of the reason that they’re so precious is that there are so few of them (at least compared to today’s ’20 Instagram-filtered perfect photos of our kids per day’ standards). I used to spend hours looking through our photo boxes (yeah sure, some are in albums, but you know the boxes I’m talking about, shoved in a closet or under a bed somewhere at your parents’ house).
You would think by now I would have them memorized, but every time I look at them I seem to find something new, like:
- The frosting on the cake in the first picture was clearly manufactured before they started using artificial colors, (and just what flavor is ‘mustard/beige’?)
- There appears to be an ashtray in front of me in the 2nd picture despite the fact that no one in our family smoked (or did they?) Ah, the 70s, when you had to buy and display ashtrays, just so you could be a good host when your friends came over to stink up your home.
- Should I have pants on? (In the 2nd picture, I mean…..not now).
Whenever I look at these pictures I want to tell that little girl to a) love every minute she has with that gorgeous, silky blonde hair before puberty turns it into a pile of brown, curly, craziness, and b) always let her mother choose her outfits, and follow her lead in all things, because her mom has more class and style than she will ever know.
Case in point: I ran into an old friend from school years after graduation and when he asked about how my family was doing he said, “Our whole family always used to remark on how classy your mom is. Most of them only knew her from seeing her a few pews away in church on Sunday, but they could just tell.”
I don’t think any child or teenager really sees their parents they way that other people do, (and certainly not as classy), but now through the eyes of a 42 year old mother, I finally get it.
For most of my life my mom was a working, single mother. The 70s weren’t the days of 50/50 split custody, so when I say single mother, I mean the singular person with us every day and every night of every month, with very few breaks from the demands or two bickering kids.
She didn’t have Facebook or Twitter to vent on, she couldn’t just do a Facetime with all her family back in Chicago whenever she wanted. She didn’t even (visibly) break out the wine but a few times a year! But somehow she did it for all those years.
And she did it with class.
I don’t mean like expensive clothes and Kardashians “class”.
- Even though her days were 10x more complicated than mine are raising my kids, she always made it look easy and never complained. (Okay, at the end of Christmas break she used to ‘joke’ that “I need to go back to work so I can get a vacation”. I always thought she was joking, but now I totally get it.)
- In my entire childhood, (and even adulthood), I have only heard her curse a handful of times, and that was just ‘damn’ and there was usually an injury or broken glass involved.
- She never left the house without pantyhose, painted nails and lipstick to apply in the rearview mirror before heading into the grocery store.
- No matter if she was wearing a fancy dress or something she got off the Macy’s (‘The Bon’ to anyone in Idaho in the 70’s) clearance rack, she always looked like a million bucks.
As I sit here in my old maternity yoga pants (yes, my youngest is 5), not quite able to give an accurate account of when I last showered, with nails that haven’t seen polish since early 2012, I am in awe of how well she pulled this whole mothering thing off while still exuding a class that even strangers in church could feel.
Which brings me to this picture of mom’s birthday ‘celebration’. She is just about the same age that I am now, and I am just about the same age that my daughter is now. Today, on my 42nd birthday, I am using this photo as a reminder to aim to live life and parent with the same level of class and grace as she did, and still does today.
I love you, mom! Happy (my) Birthday!
Okay, I totally wanted to leave it with that nice final thought about my mom, but there’s just too much good stuff going on in this photo (and I’m not just talking about my mullet and coke-bottle glasses):
I got the poor woman a soap on a rope shaped like a phone for her birthday, for heaven’s sake! (Naturally it’s the perfect gift, since she worked for the phone company and all). And I can only assume that the Garfield pin she’s wearing is the gift that my brother gave her right before the big soap-phone reveal.
And I dare you to show this picture to anyone under 10 and ask them what that orange thing on the wall is.