So what is the deal behind my mother and her sayings? A lot of it had to do with what was going on at the time. Some were surely rooted from the past – passed down from her mother. This a slice of the edited stories that prompted her to say some of these things to me. Longer versions of the stories will be compiled and made into a book; at least that is the goal. I’ll keep you posted on when it will be available. For now, enjoy.
The Choice is Yours. I Can Not Make It For You.”
A few years back I was thinking of moving to Florida to take a job. By all accounts it was a pretty good job. It looked very impressive, housed on a production lot. I was shown around, wined and dined as they say. I even looked at potential apartment complexes where I could live very nicely, with views of a golf course, tennis courts or man-made lakes. Yet, I was having cold feet. I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. I had feelings of ambivalence because my mother wasn’t in the best of health yet she wasn’t an invalid. There was a push pull kind of scenario—me wanting to spread my wings and the responsibility and obligation of being close to a not so healthy family member. I contacted a local moving company, John’s Moving, to get an estimate for transporting my things to Florida. I started to get really nervous about making this step. My mother told me to relax and to take my time about the decision. When I asked her what I should do, there is was again, the choice is yours, I cannot make it for you. She also said not to worry about her. The idea was that maybe she would move to Florida as well.
Ultimately I turned the job down, and it was a lucky thing I did. A few months later after I said no, the company hit financial trouble. The owner owed millions of dollars to people and employees working at the company lost their jobs. I dodged what would have been a freakin’ mess.
Despite my nervousness of taking the risk to move or not, I made the decision not to go. The choice really was mine and mine alone. My mother was right and I think of this often when grappling with big decisions. Isn’t it interesting that when you need to make life-changing decisions, that the only person who can make them is you?
I don’t remember if my mother said I love you, not if she loved me. I know my mother loved me. She showed me instead of telling me.
Growing up I went to parochial school and wore a dull brown plaid uniform. Brown plaid does not look good in the middle of the summer let me tell you. Honestly, it doesn’t look all that great during the other seasons either. I could never understand if you attended Catholic grade school why students were forced to wear the ugliest clothes. I don’t know anyone who attended Catholic grade school who thought wearing the hideous combinations of plaid looked stylish.
I was about to enter the, I think the fifth grade, and it was time for a new uniform. Instead of the brown plaid jumper, I was about to graduate to a separates. I was only required to endure plaid on one-half of my body — a skirt. Thank Goodness.
Those ugly uniforms were expensive. Back in the 70’s and without the ease of the Internet, you could only buy school uniforms from a specialty shop or thru special order.
To buy my uniform, plus shirts for school, my mother withdrew the interest and dividends accumulated from her life insurance policy.
Now that’s love. Instead of spending the money on a new outfit for herself, my mother spent it on me to make sure I had the proper clothes to attend school. Before the beginning of the new school year, mom and I trotted up the block to the store where I picked out a new uniform; a plaid skirt and yellow peplum collar short-sleeve shirt.
That incident was nearly 30 years ago and I still remembered it as if was, for lack of a better term, yesterday. It’s often the little things that mothers and yes, fathers do for their children that are remembered and cherished.
Sometimes it’s hard to see it when you are in the middle of it, you think the worst, get mad, think it’s a punishment, and once it’s gone, then you remember. So yeah, my mother said I love you, many, many times over.
“The Only Person You’re Foolin’ Is Yourself”
At 5’2 and shaped like a butterball, my mother could whip out phrases sprinkled with plenty of attitude. So when my mother said, “the only person you’re foolin is yourself,” it rang in my ears.
She’d shoot me a look–you know, one that embodied part disgust, love and patience all rolled up together. So, after sucking my teeth in annoyance, I came to the conclusion that I better reevaluate the current situation, whatever it was.
Growing up, my dilemmas grew and I would readily discuss them with my mother. Even as an adult, she would set me straight. A few years ago, I had moved into a new apartment. It was great. It was big, bright, new amenities, double the space I had in my previous apartment. The only problem was I had no idea until I moved in that I was living next to neighbors from hell. I thought eventually the noise, loud music, yelling, screaming and garbage left in the hallway would miraculously go away once I expressed my displeasure. I was naïve and really thought they would stop. When my mother asked me if I had any idea how long the neighbors had lived there I said I didn’t know but guessed a long, long time. She looked at me and said, “If they have lived there for so long what makes you think that all of a sudden because a new neighbor arrives, they’re going to stop? The only person you’re foolin’ is yourself.” And there it was; the truth coming out of the mouth of a pint-size elderly woman with salt and pepper hair, staring me straight in my face. Damn.
What did I say about mothers? Yep, they’re right.
After about three painful years and paying a hefty amount of rent, I moved, grudgingly, happily and angrily.
“Your Nerves Are In Your Mouth”
I loved my sweets growing up, and frankly, I still do. Honestly, who doesn’t. However, the phrase wasn’t said because I gorged on too many sweets. On the contrary, it was said because for me, food was used as a way to deal with my feelings. If something happened—from the mundane to the more challenging—I would reach for food. Even as I write this, I really had to go back and think about my childhood and what was I so conflicted about to suck down food when I wasn’t hungry, and in doing so the events seemed so trivial to my adult mind. As a kid, my issues were important—arguing with a friend, not getting an A on a test, feeling guilty about what ever.
Let me tell you, I did not always appreciate my mother saying, “your nerves are in your mouth.” I later understood the essence of the meaning behind it—don’t reach for food to dilute your feelings, confront the problem, no matter what it is and move on. That’s it. End of story.
In the past, things would fester, yet one thing is clear: not dealing with a problem does not make it go away. The opposite happens. It magnifies and expands left unchecked. So wouldn’t now be the time to deal with your stuff?
I don’t have as many your nerves in your mouth days. I have a few.