My mom likes to play in dirt. I don’t think she ever got past the mud pies stage of life (in fact I think she said she ate mud pies when she was a wee tot, but that’s a story for another day). To be fair, her brothers are the same way; all three of them can stare at the earth, and leaves erupt from the ground, vying for green thumbs, sunshine, and a watering can. My uncles were/are more the Victory Garden type – vegetables and good things to eat tend to be their specialties. Mom, though, leans more towards flowers. She has these window boxes on her deck that are so colorful, they look like a Crayola box crapped all over some stems. It’s far, far prettier than the imagery suggests, I promise.
Another thing Mom likes? Dogs – hounds in particular – which she’s had since I was just a sprout. Long ago she had dachshunds (my grandmother bred them) but the first dog I really remember was a surly basset named Rosie. The picture is probably long lost, but once upon a time there was a photo of Rosie in the front seat of a bright blue pickup truck wearing my mother’s sunglasses and peering at the camera. She was a diva. My mother is a diva. They had this hivemind human/dog thing going on in which one tried to out-style the other. My mother won on the principle of smelling better, I think, but I swear if a person could have a familiar, Rosie was it for Mom. RIP you angsty, wonderful thing.
The dog, by the way, not Mom. She’s fine. I talked to her, like, an hour ago.
Mom likes antiques and cars, though I don’t think it extends to antique cars, and cooking good food and Cape Cod. She likes decorating and art, guitar-god southern rock and Timothy Olyphant. Purely for his acting chops, I’m sure. She loves westerns – books and movies – shrimp scampi, and Maine. She’s forgotten more about Oriental Rugs than most people will ever know, and she screams at the TV during hockey games. The rest, though, is a study in contradiction. She goes to the salon religiously, and yet has no problem rolling around in manure or working up a sweat. She has a closet of clothes to die for, and yet she’s the one who introduced me to the glory of thick woolen socks. She’s contemporary and stuck somewhere back in time: see her convertible, see Fredlocke the toy horse she’s held onto since childhood. She’s well-mannered and yet biting at the same time, which means she’s riotously funny but there’s just enough snark there to make you think “whoa, I bet she could be mean if she wanted to.” She’s patient with some things, and ridiculously impatient with others.
All in all? Mom’s a pretty complex person, and holy shit, I am not my mother.
This is not a bad thing, just a statement of fact. I don’t understand Mom and I doubt I ever will, which is totally okay, because she’s way better as this Terminator/Steel Magnolia/Pseudo-Bumpkin hybrid thing. She’s surprising in all the right ways. We have our similarities, of course. We’re both smart, I got my sarcasm from her, and I definitely got my love of food from her (though unlike me, Mom doesn’t resemble the Death Star in shape, but whatevs). I read a lot because she introduced me to books early on, and of course we have the hound fan club bond, but beyond that, we’re completely different people. Where I’m more the type to lock myself inside and rue the day that sunshine dared look upon me, she’s outside rolling in grass and giving bugs the finger. Where I mope and feel sorry for myself before charging into action, Mom grabs life by the balls and squeezes until it screams. Point: life usually gives first. I love video games, nerdy books by Gaiman, and Lord of the Rings, Mom’s computer anything extends to Facebook and eBaying for other people’s old stuff. Nice old stuff, mind you, but it’s still old stuff. Have I mentioned I don’t get the antiquing thing, nor do I get the gardening thing? It’s cool, though. I don’t have to.
I know some people say that all women turn into their mothers at some point in time. I’m not sure if that’s the case with me, mainly because my mother’s a true individual, and I don’t think there are many cut from her mold. If you separated all her parts, you wouldn’t make much sense of the orderly mess in front of you. Sure, some people might relate to certain pieces (she does have a husband and friends, after all) but I don’t think anyone really gets her. Not one hundred percent, anyway. She’s got this secret little Heather world that we can all peek at from time to time, but it’s just a glimpse before she closes it off to go do her own thing, happiest to be left inside her own head.
My mom’s weird, but it’s a great weird – not the “sniff your trash and hoard cats” weird. It’s the “I have a housekeeper that comes on Friday but I’m going to clean house this weekend again because I should” weird. Complex and simple, elegant yet covered in dog snoogers. Opposing qualities merging inside of one human body. And really, I may not be much like her, and I may not get how the cogs and gizmos work inside of her head, but I know I’m lucky to know her, and luckier still to call her my mum.
The crux of the post then: Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you, even though I have no fucking idea what to do with you.