Another holiday is peeking over the horizon. Sigh. Mother’s Day is often tough for me. Being far apart, often my only connection with my children is via Skype or phone. Planning to visit my mother in June, I won’t be going down to the Bay Area to visit her either, so Rick and I and Miss Boo the Queen of Cats will be celebrating motherhood on our own. As usual, I went through the agonizing search for the right gift for my mother, a woman who has two or three of everything she needs already. A gift which expresses my undying appreciation for the seventy pounds she piled on to her small frame prior to my birth and the fifteen hours of agonizing labor required to produce all nine pounds nine ounces of me when the big day arrived. Mother always says I was the largest baby in the nursery asking to see the menu before they’d applied my first diaper.
I am here to tell you I was not an easy child to raise. My mother, though not sitting next to me, would be nodding her head if she could see me writing these words. Looking back my early childhood years passed relatively unblemished. Approaching my teens was where things went slightly awry. Once the sun set on my thirteenth birthday I became firmly convinced I was right 99% of the time regardless of the subject being discussed. Anything falling under the remaining 1% even if I wasn’t right, I was sure my parents were wrong. Little credit was given them by me during that period of my life for anything much beyond being able to dress themselves and brush their own teeth.
My mother remarried during the summer between my sophomore and junior year. This was not an occasion I celebrated with great fanfare. Already in the throes of hormonal changes and being a typical teen, all things not pertaining to my own fulfillment were at best mildly interesting at worst downright annoying.
Like a strong-willed colt, they kept pretty tight reins on me. Until I graduated from high school, really until the day I walked down the aisle and got married the year following, I had a curfew. At 12:00 my coach turned into a pumpkin, the horsemen ran back under the house and my mother turned into the evil queen. This particular rule became particularly chafing when I had a date, and I had a few. Boys at that age were infinitely more intriguing than geometry. I still prefer them to a trapezoid hands down. Had they been a sport I would have lettered.
Aware of my keen interest in the subject, my mother went to great lengths to ensure a lid was kept on my swirling hormones. Home after an evening at the movies, a sock hop, or a ball game if I lingered on the porch to let us say, say goodnight, the light would begin blinking within five minutes of my arrival. If the light was ignored, troops would be dispatched in the form of my stepfather wearing his red and white striped robe and matching slippers wielding a baseball bat and waving a martini. The embarrassment of this consequence served for the most part to keep me in line.
At sixteen when I obtained my driver’s license life for them, as it does for many parents trying to corral their teens, became a living hell. Having no car of my own I was often given permission to drive my mother’s car. Had she any idea what we did with her lovely little black convertible once we were out of sight I’m sure her hair would have turned silver long before it did. The only evidence I actually brought home of my carrying on was one time when I’d taken four friends to the drive-in. A drive in, for those of you too young to remember, was an outside movie theater. Speakers with adjustable volume knobs were attached to posts at each available parking spot. These were attached to your window during the show. Back then on the weekends you often got a double feature (yes, two movies), as well as cartoons (I know) for $1.75/carload. Since our allowances in those years wouldn’t buy kids today a burger and large fries, this form of entertainment had it’s decided advantages.
Gas was a valuable commodity, so we each took turns paying for it. It was my turn to drive. During intermission the concession area was packed. We piled out of the car, used the restrooms, bought an enormous cardboard pizza to share along with an armload of hot dogs wrapped in foil in case we got hungry later. Mega sodas and ice cream bon bons added to the mix provided enough sugar and carbs to produce a diabetic coma. As an aside here, I might mention I have rarely stayed awake through an entire movie shown late at night. Guinness World Records has me noted as probably the only human capable of sleeping through Star Wars. Essentially I am a creature of the dawn. This particular night I cruised through the first movie no problem. As the evening wore on, however, my uncooperative lids began to droop. By the end of the second movie I had achieved REM and was snoring like a nasal bulldog. Poked and prodded into action once the movie concluded, I turned the key and pulled out of the parking spot. Not at my best when rudely awakened, this possibly wasn’t the best course of action before achieving consciousness. Not because it wasn’t time to leave, it was. Had I removed the speaker from the window before moving forward all would have been fine. Instead, still firmly attached to the window and stretched to the end of its tether, the speaker yanked the window out like an abscessed tooth being pulled from the socket. This was not going to go well I felt. Home before the lights began to blink, I sneaked in to find my mother sleeping in her chair, baseball bat at her side. Weighing my options, I left her a note. I believe in self defense they gifted me my first car on my seventeenth birthday. It was a Plymouth Valiant. An uglier car has rarely rolled off the showroom floor. They paid $100 for it, and at that they were robbed. Looking back I feel the intent was so much had already been done to the vehicle the likelihood of me inflicting any more harm was minimal.
At any rate, with Mother’s Day on Sunday I look back and find myself most thankful to have taken this journey through my crazy life with my mother in my corner. Always she has been my greatest fan, and my staunchest ally. I hope you all have a great day with your families!
Spring Salad with Golden Beet Croutons
1 bunch of golden beets
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 head of red leaf lettuce, coarsely torn
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 English cucumber, sliced thin
6 radishes, sliced thin
6 large mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup diced prosciutto, cooked crisp
1 oz. crumbled feta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel beets and cube. Cover cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Toss beets with olive oil. Spread in single layer on cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 40 mins. until tender, turning several times. Cool.
Dice prosciutto. Cook in skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Mix remaining ingredients in large salad bowl. Add cooled beets. Toss with dressing.
Creamy Italian Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. dill
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup prepared red wine vinegar dressing
Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate for 1 hour.