M.O.M.: Mind Over Matter

Photo MOM

“…Ay, Juanita, Are you sure you want to use those scissors on your wedding dress?..” The year was 1950 and JC’s* new Latina mother-in-law couldn’t seem to convince her to change her mind. She was dead set on creating the perfect hostess robe. Back then, you dreamed of greeting guests as the movie stars did; in a cross between an evening formal and a bathrobe (realizing that the tent like sleeves were a fire hazard in the kitchen, this creation soon met its demise). A few crooked cuts later, the plan was scrapped in favor of an ice skating outfit and then a handkerchief. After a good laugh together, JC immediately let go of her disappointment and moved on.

Her resiliency, determination and independent spirit came at an early age. Her parents’ divorce had prepared her well. The independent little girl would cheerfully bloom wherever she was planted, whether it was with her eccentric aunt or her doting grandmother.

As a young woman, she would head to the top Manhattan dance clubs, sometimes alone. She had inherited her moxie from her mom, whose advice she would remember when heading home back to New Jersey late at night: always walk near the street, not the buildings. On her 21stbirthday, she met the handsome Latin from Manhattan (my dad) who swept her off her feet, even though her mom did not approve. She rode the ups and downs of all his dreams and schemes as if on a bucking bronco, holding on and never willing to let go.

To this day, JC does not like to be told what to do. When a physical therapist recently suggested a certain exercise three times a day, she nodded attentively and then decided that once was sufficient. When we scold her for not drinking enough water, she listens politely and then continues to hydrate with a few sips from a water fountain. Now it seems that even her doctor has acquiesced and stated that if she has made it so healthy and happy thus far, she should just continue to do whatever she’s been doing.

But, this does not stop the perfectionist in me from trying to bring her over to the dark side and share my passion for organization. She probably does not refer to the Excel spreadsheet I made for her entitled “Travel Checklist” and encased in plastic, but I feel better just knowing it lurks somewhere in her bottom drawer. The last time we traveled together, I asked her where the  blow up travel neck pillow and eye mask I bought her were. Surprised by the question, she answered “…Home…,” as if it was the most logical answer. Both in travel and in life, she prefers the lighter approach.

In honor of Mother’s Day this year, I am going to try to limit my strong desire to rearrange her drawers when I visit (spice and desk will be the hardest). I will not straighten one picture on the wall or strongly suggest anything. In order to keep myself in check, I will institute a homemade  internal warning system (a hard pinch should work). What better gift than the one that keeps on giving?

The mother/daughter relationship can sometimes be a wobbly balance. Keeping in mind the yin and yang of it all, I realize that I need to let her stand on her own two feet and get out of her way, just as she did for me.

Arm in arm with curiosity and spunk, JC confidently continues to go her merry way, skipping through life and reminding me every day how important it is to follow your own path and to dance to your own music.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

Advertisements

Celebrating Mom, Moxie and Mother’s Day

Photo My Moxie Mom

When she was just 9 years old, she would awaken on her own, early Sunday mornings, dress in her best dress, grab the coins off the kitchen table that her mother had left for her and set out. Sometimes she would hop on 1 foot, hopscotch or skip all the way there. She’d attend church on her own and then stop at the local bakery to buy some buns for the family. The wonderful smell would propel her home and she’d run all the way, hoping to arrive while they were still warm and looking forward to the first bite and the jelly oozing down her chin.

One of the things that I love about JC* is her independent spirit. All her life, she’s never let the fact that she might have to venture out into the world solo stop her. It’s that sparkle in her eyes and that spring in her step that you first notice. This is probably the reason why the Austin bus drivers greet her by name as she boards and why she was selected out of the audience to be a part of the show at a Blue Man Group performance. When traveling alone on a group tour, she will tell you that at meal time, she first peruses the dining room and chooses the table with the most people laughing. This has led to wonderful friendships with women as far away as Australia.

Arm in arm with curiosity and spunk, she confidently heads into the unknown, the more unfamiliar, the better. She’s fun to be with and whether we are shopping for just the right earrings or exploring someplace new that she has discovered, she has the uncanny ability to make even the smallest experience exciting.

Her energy amazes me. It always makes me laugh when I ask her what she did on days that we aren’t together. She’ll start out by saying “…Not much…,” then rattle off a schedule that would warrant wheels being added to your daily planner. In recent years, thanks to her, I have mastered the flamenco, the Texas Two Step and line dancing. And just as I arrive home and am putting my dance shoes away, I can look forward to a text asking me if I want to join her on another adventure.

Her next foray is into the animal kingdom. She is now officially a volunteer at Austin Pets Alive. And while she is exerting her never-ending zest for life, there may be just enough time for me to take a nap before we’re off again together.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.