Hallmark stockholders are looking forward to the nation celebrating another big holiday, Mother’s Day. Like myself with my two children, my mother was, for the most part, both mother and father to me.
Unexpectedly losing my father six days after my first birthday until my mother remarried when I was nine, she was the hub around which my wheel turned. A beautiful woman, the third oldest of four children, with one brother and sister ahead of her and the youngest girl three years behind. Mother is imbued with an innate sense of style, a devilish wit, and a penchant for picking the one bad apple out of a bushel full of perfect specimens. A social bee then and now, as a child my images of her reflect a raven haired woman, lips enhanced with bright red color, leaving for an evening out wafting an enticing trail of Narcisse Noir perfume in her wake as she bent to kiss me goodnight. My room being across the hall from hers, I would sometimes sneak in and sit at her vanity. On the glass top sat her silver hair brush and mirror, and all around an array of tempting pots filled with rouge, eye shadow, and all manner of decoration. Emulating my mother, I would dip my chubby fingers in the containers and in my child’s way paint my eyes and my lips as I’d watched her do many times. Sometimes, feeling particularly brazen, I would venture into her vast closet with shelves piled high with colorful hat boxes with braided handles and shoe boxes, so many shoe boxes. Unable to resist I would slip on a pair of her lovely shoes or model a furry wrap around my shoulders always altogether avoiding the one with two fox heads dangling from one end. That one still gives me nightmares.
In truth, I suppose I was raised by a “village”. Alone with a small child, she moved in with my grandparents in their lovely home in Halifax not far from one sister and her family and her brother. All of them, I would suppose, contributed to making my early childhood one I choose to remember often and always with a smile tugging at the side of my mouth.
Mother, gifted in every sense as I mentioned with regards to choosing the appropriate shoes to complement her outfit, could not seem to pull together a suitable partner, until now, to complement her life. Consequently, once we moved to California with my new stepfather, who in three years, would be my old stepfather, we found ourselves often on our own. Being a single parent is a hard road. At night when your children are sick, there is only you to comfort them. Without a partner, homework, chauffeuring, comforting, and as they get older loves lost and new one’s found, all the little tragedies and heartbreaks of growing up fall on one person’s shoulders. There were times, exhausted, I would find myself folding laundry at 1:00 a.m. with my charges asleep upstairs and knowing the alarm would ring in four hours. It can seem a very lonely watch to be on.
I have to say, in spite of our ups and downs, my mother has always been there for me. Looking back I suppose there were occasions when I wished she wasn’t for a moment, but as I get older I find I’m awfully glad she was.
High school was a rough four years for me. At that time stepfather number 2 had entered the picture. Funny, I still think of him as Number 2, but that’s another therapy session. Another apple that looked quite nice on first examination but the core was rotten. Being of an age where I was impossible to live with simply because of my age, adding a new father to the equation made living with me like trying to pour hot gravy on mashed potatoes. A lot of work with few results and painful, very painful.
With each decade our relationship had shifted and changed as we have, but through it all she has been there with a kind word when I needed it and to hold my hand when I was sick. Family, as convoluted and difficult as interactions can be are times are, in the end, the tightest bonds we have.
Truthfully, I think the mother/daughter relationship is one of the most intricate of mine fields with regards to relationships. Perhaps that is why you can introduce a male cat into a house with a female cat, or have two male cats, but when you introduce a female cat into a house with a resident female the fur is going to fly. By the nature of the relationship, there will be competition, boundary issues, territorial problems and a myriad of other burrs in an otherwise nice walk in the park.
My mother and I have an excellent relationship and talk nearly every day. As she’s gotten older the roles have shifted, as they will, until I have actually become more the mentor and she the student as years have passed. Now, she’ll call me if she has what my other half refers to as “a culinary question”, which is nearly a daily occurrence. I help her sort and sift through paperwork, and am the go to gal for all technology issues, as computers make her sweat. In a way we have become becalmed with age, but this does not mean we didn’t ride some rough seas in the past.
Speaking for myself, I would find it difficult to live with my mom. In her eyes I still need my shoelaces tied, and to be reminded to wear a sweater if there’s a chill in the air. There have been lots of times where she’s wandered too far into my space and I’ve had to lovingly but firmly push her back into hers. Distance keeps us loving one another in a healthy way, and when I see her I am always glad to do so.
After all these years I’m still unraveling the do’s and don’ts of it all with my daughter, and now my daughter is doing the same. As for my son, as men do, he maintains a comfortable distance with love and runs his ship in a tidy manner bringing up good people. Lately my daughter calls from time to time and apologizes to me as she goes through with hers what I experienced with her at their age. A circle of love, I would guess.
Happy Mother’s Day. Give this chicken a try – it’s ridiculous. The bleu cheese sauce is good for both the meat and the vegetables and if any is left over, which is not usually the case, it’s delicious on sliced tomatoes or cucumbers.
When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.– Erma Bombeck
As a side note I noticed my garden beds had huge holes where something had been digging in them. Mouse suggested it might be a gopher, or possibly Boo our other cat. I feel there’s something sneaky afoot. 🙂
Grilled Chicken Breasts
6 Chicken breast fillets
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup Canola oil
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. parsley flakes
3-4 cloves garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder
Mix all ingredients but chicken together. Place in large resealable bag. Add chicken pieces and squish to distribute marinade. Place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours or preferably overnight.
Spring Vegetables with Bleu Cheese Sauce
2 large zucchini cut in 1/2″ chunks
2 yellow squash, cut in 1/2″ chunks
1 red onion, peeled halved
1 Tbsp. EV olive oil
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup EV Olive oil
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
4-6 Wooden skewers – soaked for 1 hr. in water
Make marinade. Prepare squash and place in resealable bag with marinade and refrigerate for 3-4 hrs.
Cut onion in half. Heat 1 Tbsp. of EV olive oil in small saucepan. Place cut side of onion halves face down and cook over med. heat until browned but not burned. Add 1 Tbsp. of water to pan and cover with tall lid or invert another skillet over top and continue to cook until onion is tender. Coarsely chop and set aside.
Remove squash from marinade. Place on skewers. Grill over high heat about 6 mins., turning twice. Remove from skewers and place in bowl. Add cooked onion and toss with salt and pepper to taste.
Bleu Cheese Sauce
1/4 cup crumbled Bleu Cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
3 Dashes of Tabasco (optional)
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for 1 hr. before serving. I often double this to have leftovers.