I don’t come from one of those Hallmark-y families. When Mother’s Day comes around each year, there are no sappy cards exchanged. In fact, when my brother’s kindergarten class made a “What Moms Do For Us” book, my brother’s page didn’t read “Moms bake us cookies” or “Moms take care of us when we’re sick” like all the other kids’ pages did. Oh no. His page read “Moms go on diets then eat chocolate and go off their diets.” Yep. Kids say the darndest things…right?!
Thinking back, nothing about my mom was typical. She was, and is, a free spirit who marches to her own drum. My childhood was quirky and fun and not like anyone else’s. She didn’t drive a minivan, she hated baking cupcakes, and we never once had matchy-matchy mother-daughter dresses. But here are some of the much cooler things I did have as childhood memories with my mom…
- My mom took us all on an “Owl Prowl” in the dark once when I was in middle school where we all tip-toed through the woods calling screech owls and listening for responses. I’m still pretty convinced the “response calls” we got weren’t from owls…but other weirdos on an owl prowl on the other side of the woods.
- Speaking of owls, my mom once drove off the road and got her Volvo wagon stuck in a LOT of mud on the side of the road because she thought she saw an owl. My brother was with her (I think he was about seven at the time), and they flagged down a school bus for a ride home so he wouldn’t miss his piano lesson. My dad dug her car out later as if it was a totally normal thing to have happen.
- My mom loved to can jams and jellies. It consumed a lot of hours in the summer and yielded some delicious results, including some wild grape jam that won best in show at the Durham Fair. However, she once picked some “mystery berries” and canned them immediately so they wouldn’t spoil. She wasn’t sure what they were, but was worried the fruit wouldn’t keep, so she left the jam on the counter with a note to warn our family NOT to eat the jam until she’d taken the berries to her naturalist friend to confirm that they weren’t poisonous.
- In her never-ending quest for the next best wild berry for jam, my mom made my brother and I pick roadside berries with her more than a few times, including elderberries, autumn olives, wild grapes, and pin cherries.
- When I was four, my mom taught me the planets in order. Why? I have no idea, but I still remember it to this day (and I still include Pluto in there, just because).
- My mom made up elaborate stories about my teddy bears. These stories were really, really involved, and included the bears having huge wild parties in my room when I was at school and hitching rides on the back of a crow named Madeline who lived in our backyard.
- When I was in upper elementary school, my mom went through a phase where she made us eat dinner by candlelight, in silence, while listening to chanting monks on the radio.
- We often drove to Florida and stopped in North Carolina to see my dad’s parents on the way down. My mom, a night person through and through, always took the late shift of the drive. She’d fly down I-95 while listening to ABBA and singing along.
- When I left for college as a naive 17-year-old, my mother gave me her best piece of advice as I headed into life on my own: “The world is full of a$sholes.” Mom…you were correct. 🙂
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!