My mother has always been my Go-To Girl. My Chief Advisor. My One-Tell. For as long as I can remember, almost everything I’ve ever experienced in my life was viewed and evaluated through the prism of my mother’s perspective.
Remember those elastic bracelets people wore years ago that said “WWJD?” (What would Jesus do?) I wondered what Jesus would do, but I’ve also spent a lifetime wondering “WWMD?” What would Mom do? Or think? Or say?
This might be a good time to admit to my closest friends that every time they told me a secret and I promised to keep it, “cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” I never actually stuck that needle in my eye, even though I always went straight to my mom with their confidence.
Any time anything happened, no matter how minor or mundane, I always began a running narrative in my head telling mom all about it. And that’s assuming I didn’t call and fill her in immediately.
-Whether I bought something on sale (“Remember that blouse we saw in Nordstrom…”)
-Whether I ran into someone (“You’ll never believe who I saw today…”)
-Anything and everything her grandchildren said or did (“Tommy said the cutest thing, we were sitting at the dinner table and…”)
Nothing was too insignificant to mention:
“I ordered the chicken!”
“The hotel was gorgeous!”
“I had the worst headache!”
Our mothers are our very first listeners.
And I was blessed to tell mine so many wonderful things like, “We’re engaged!” “I’m pregnant!” “We bought a house!” “I’m published!” and a few not-so-good things, the most awful was, “He said you’ve got Leukemia” and a few months later, “They said there’s nothing left they can do…”
Like all matriarchs, my Mama loves our family lore:
“Remember the time Dad parked the Winnebago on the beach at Padre Island and the tide came in while we were asleep? We woke up the next morning to the serene sounds of waves lapping tires and realized we were surrounded by ocean…”
“Remember traveling back to the U.S. from the Army base in Germany, after Dad had his heart attack and we couldn’t get a taxi to make our connection in Philadelphia? (No one seemed excited to transport an Army Wife traveling alone with her 3 “Brats.”) As you tossed our luggage on top of an unsuspecting cab, you shouted at us kids to jump in, leaving the cabbie no choice but to take us!”
“What about the time I threw a paper airplane in class which my teacher intercepted, unfolded and wrote a note on – requesting your signature? You took my plane, unfolded it again, inserted it in your IBM Selectric and proceeded to type your own note informing the teacher how proud you were that I was preparing for a career in Aeronautical Engineering!”
My mom was a sassy one, but she had it a little bit wrong that time. The paper airplane episode didn’t indicate that I was destined to become an Aeronautical Engineer, just that I was destined to be a bit of a mischief-maker who acted up, talked too much and would stop at nothing to make people laugh.
I did, however, follow in her footsteps to become a sassy mother.
These days my mother and I have entered a new phase of talking, listening, laughing and crying. Her tiny body is indeed spent from the fight, yet still she yearns for a few more significant insignificant days to give her children her undivided attention.
And we will fill this time with tales of hilarity courage and that inexplicable force called mother-love. The wonderful and trivial, peppered here and there with a story about someone else’s drama or something fabulous we found on sale.
It is, after all, what Mom would do.
— Leslie Blanchard
Leslie Blanchard is a wife of one and mother of five, who writes the blog, A Ginger Snapped: Facing The Music of Marriage And Motherhood. After she received a journalism degree, she became the “Wind Beneath My Husband’s Wings” and didn’t write anything for 27 years, except her family’s Christmas letter. All that changed with the invention of the iPad with a waterproof cover. Now, she lays in the bathtub all day, neglecting her other responsibilities, and writes about life outside the tub. Her essays are titled after songs because, as she and her hubby puzzle through a marriage or child-rearing problem, they sing the song that particular issue reminds them of (with a pertinent lyric change here or there).