Monday, May 14, 2012

Mothers Day Means Thank Yous

 Every year on Mother's Day, I am reminded of the many women in my life that helped mother me along the way. My mom was a part of my early childhood and a part of my early adulthood but in between those years were my Dad's five sisters, a cousin and a cousin-in-law and a theatre teacher in high school that changed the direction of my life. There were long car rides through downtown Los Angeles post-riots with my Aunt Gail as we talked about home life, soccer, and school, listening to Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey in the background. There was the shopping trip to buy me my first journal with Aunt Mary Kay. There was the lesson in feminine hygiene from Aunt Tricia. There was the dog training lessons from Aunt Jennifer and the smell of eucalyptus whenever you entered her home, a smell that reminded me of Christmas and happier times. Then there was the introduction to the hair salon, yoga, and chai tea with Aunt Rose. There was gossip and lunch at CPK with my cousin's girlfriend, Brandie, who later became his wife. There was horseback riding with sorority sisters with my cousin, Breanne. And there was an oasis of calm and meditation in Ms. Welden's little black box theatre in high school. The women in my life stepped up when my mother had to step out and every year I think of how lucky I am to have had such a unique experience. But no one stepped up more than my Aunt Gail who for many years was the recipient of my Mothers Day affections. During my parents' divorce, Gail scooped up me and my brother and adopted us into her already busy and crowded family (four athletic boys) and made sure we had homemade meals for dinner, clean and pressed uniforms for school, and a sense of responsibility when sharing someone's space. She made sure we had fun again, determined not to let our childhood become a swath of painful memories and most importantly, she treated us like normal kids, not kids that had been abandoned by their mother. She took no pause in scolding us when we were out of line, leaving no room for excuses if we acted out. My father used to joke about her house, calling it boot camp, and at times there was a healthy amount of fear when at Gail's house. While there was no crap allowed, there was discipline and structure, two things we desperately needed at that time. There was also a pool and a basketball hoop and cousins to play with, fight with, and laugh with. After two years, my dad got his life back, but just when he was ready to create that structure for us, he suffered a life-threatening illness that took two years to fully recover from. And just when he had regained his strength from that, he lost his business which Gail was a part of.

When I look back at all my family went through, I can't imagine having survived it all without Gail and "boot camp."  And although I may not always call her on Mother's Day, to me she will forever be the Mom that I called when I "became a woman" before my 8th grade Volleyball game.

This Mothers Day, I spent it with Mike's mother, again, another amazing woman I have been lucky to have become a part of my life. I never thought much about what kind of mother-in-law I might have one day. All I knew about them was that you weren't supposed to get along with them, or so the movies painted it that way. But for me, part of what makes this whole wedding thing so exciting is that I'm going to inherit a mother-in-law I could have never dreamed up!

I like Mother's Day. For me, it is a holiday that is always evolving and no matter where I am in my life, a day for me to reflect, appreciate and celebrate the many women in my life that have helped redefine the mother-daughter relationship in a way that is very special to me. It's a day for me to say Thank You.

1 comment:

daleboca said...

lovely.
make sure charlotte reads it.
so sweet.