She was not a cook. Didn’t care about it, had no interest in it. If it was in a box or a can, and she had a coupon for it, Mom bought it. Duncan Hines. Betty Crocker. Mrs. Paul. Uncle Ben.
Wooden spoons were not for stirring. We kids knew what they were REALLY for.
I think of her in the middle of suburbia, stuck in those days of a single family car. Her escape was the sewing machine and the television. I can remember how Watergate invaded her afternoons, disrupting her schedule of cutting out Simplicity patterns while keeping up with The Guiding Light.
She loved cities and movie stars and fashion. But her world was one of kids and laundry, casseroles and the odd night out at Christian Mothers. Which wasn’t very Christian to her. She quit after being told she was in charge of table set up and another woman complained loudly about how my mother failed to meet expectations.
I suppose my mother could have been forgiven, being eight months pregnant at the time.
A second car came along, a second chance in a new city as we were growing up. Travel. A career in nursing that paid for trips. People magazine. Movies.
She did her best.
I called her to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and to let her know I was thinking of her experiences as a mother as I could see them better from my adult perspective. The sewing machine kept her sane, she said.
Had to tell me all about Sunday mass and how the “pro-lifers are taking it too far”, setting up a crib in the church for donations of baby clothes, diapers, infant supplies to support unwed mothers.
“I felt like tossing a box of condoms in there!” was her opinion of all the outpouring of kindness from the parishioners. “Back in the day when I was raising kids, we didn’t have all this stuff and we sure didn’t support unwed mothers!”
It was tough enough being a married mother back then, I suppose. No nursery “theme”. Rubber pants. Bottles. And then we shared a laugh- the humiliation of being shaved for delivery. How women fought to have that indignity changed.
And now…it’s a world of bikini waxes and Brazilians!