Tuesday evening my mother excitedly called me before leaving
work. She's kind enough to come to our house on Tuesday and Thursday evenings
to watch the boys while I work. She mock complains that Nana has a life too, you know and sometimes proclaims how much they
tire her while holding her hand to her forehead in a dramatic manner. I know
she enjoys herself most rolling around in the floor with the boys, shooting
plastic guns at bad guys, and shouting along with them from the top of her
lungs. She doesn't know this, but I've crept up the dark staircase to the third
floor playroom and watched as she quite literally forgot her age and skipped
about the room with them.
She's always been that sort of parent. I remember she used
to sit with me on our big porch swing, at our little shotgun shanty in a
forgotten rural town, and sing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" in her husky alto.
She told me stories and was a walking encyclopedia of nursery rhymes and old
southern spirituals. She babied me when I was sick and defended me when I was
persecuted - like the time in the mall shoe store when, as a pre-teen, two
teenage girls laughed at my skinny frame and knocked-knees and I cried and
begged Mom to leave. To put it simply, she went ghetto on those girls and confronted them
with a level of intimidation that they'd never before seen. (Despite growing up
poor in the Ozarks, Mom was the varsity cheerleading captain of her high
school, voted most athletic, and most popular. She has always enjoyed the
higher level in the social pecking order.)
I'm an adult now and her nurturing attitude hasn't changed.
She called me that Tuesday and girl-shrieked into the phone how, when she was
out shopping for evening attire to wear to my 30 Under 30 awards next Thursday,
she found a cocktail dress for me. My mother lives to dress me and I know that
the greatest gift I could ever give her would be to allow her into my closet to
do with as she pleased. She gushed about the dress and said she was bringing
it over and lo, she brought it and made me try it on right there in my kitchen.
"IT IS SO FIGURE FLATTERING," she chirped. "Would you LOOK
at that CUT?!" After I got over my "'Pretty in Pink' prom dress shopping scene
feeling" I teased that the designer probably paid her to say flattering things. When Chris came home from work she made me try it on again,
this time allowing me to change in the kitchen bathroom. Then my husband and my
mother went over all the black heels in my closet attempting to match a pair to
the dress. Chris, who despite wearing only black, is a straight Tim Gunn, was in his
element alongside my mother. They commented on every pair of shoes that I own.
"I don't like this pair, I don't like the stitching in the
back," Chris would remark.
"Are you kidding me?" I protested.
"HEY. I am a MAN. I know better than any chick WHAT LOOKS
HOT on a girl's body." My mother nodded her head in enthusiastic agreement.
My mother nodded her head in enthusiastic agreement.
I kid them but really, it was sort of cool, this demonstration of their pride and excitement for me. I never sought academic superstardom, aside from winning writing scholarships, and when I went to awards banquets or won medals in track my mother wasn't able to join me in celebration because she was slaving away at her job. My mother worked hard to support me; it was a trade-off and Chris knows it. This is a rare occasion that she is able to share this with me and I'm happy for it.