Today marks my 10th Mother’s Day as a mom, and my 9th without mine. She was a Navy brat, a baby boomer, a feminist, a teacher, a mentor, a community organizer, a brilliant mind, a kind heart, an incredibly precise bullshit detector, a loyal friend with a sarcastic wit; but for me and only me she was Mom.
One of the most difficult things to manage since she’s been gone is the reflex to call her; to get her advice or take on an issue. I may not be able to hear what she’d have to say today, but I can often rely on a “Mom-ism” to make a pretty good educated guess.
“You don’t have to like it.”
Mom taught me early and often that there would be many things I wouldn’t like, but that my dislike wouldn’t change anything.
“How is that working for you?”
She also taught me that just because I like something, doesn’t make it the right thing. She taught me to look at my choices objectively. She’d hoped, I’m sure, this would help instill in me her pragmatism. Sorry Mom, still working on that one.
“I’m not your shit fairy.”
Typically said in frustration while picking up after me. She taught me to recognize my messes; to think about how my actions affect others, and to respect others’ time and energy.
“I’m the mother, you’re the child.”
I was most definitely taught to question authority. However, I’d do better to remember my rank and use a tactful line of questioning.
“I wish you wouldn’t…”
Delivered with a certain look this worked like a charm when I was a child to get me to stop whatever I was doing. I think it worked so well because it acknowledged I have autonomy and ultimately control my behavior, yet let me know I was being obnoxious as hell.
“Let’s not and say we did.”
Often said just before heading to a social event we’d rather skip. Always made me smile. And somehow made whatever event more enjoyable because we had this little inside joke.
“If you want an answer now, it’ll be no.”
Patience is a virtue, but not one of mine and instant gratification is almost never an option. This taught me to be more patient when given a maybe.
“Now, let’s go back to living in denial.”
These would be some of her last words to me, but it wasn’t the first time I’d heard them. My mom was best known for her tenacity, her fearlessness in speaking truth to power, and her ability to create meaningful change in her community. But, when certain immutable realities were just too harsh she advocated living in denial as a way of protecting oneself. Being fully grounded in reality and understanding she didn’t have the power to change it, she chose to deny certain parts sometimes in order to get on with things and enjoy living.
Looking over these quotes I realize I’ve yelled a few of these at my TV screen lately. I guess that’s the great thing about moms and the things they say; they’re timeless classics. Whether they are from a Grandmother, or Aunt, or Sister, or whoever was “Mom” to you; please share with me your “Mom-isms”!
My name is Erin Kegley. My mom, Michele Erickson, raised me in Redding, CA, but I now live in Loveland, CO, with my husband, Jake, and our daughter, Micah. Oh, and our cat Pinkman.
Be kind. Stay home. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Take care of each other.