Friday, May 13, 2011

What My Mother Told Me

In honor of Mother's Day this past Sunday, here are the
Top Nine Things My Mother Has Told Me Over The Years.



1. "No one is looking at you. They are all too concerned about themselves." That thought has helped me countless times over the years. About a stain. About my tripping. About wearing the "wrong" outfit to a party. Her message: Be yourself.

2. From nine years old onward: "Go outside and play. There's nothing to do inside. But be home when the street lights come on." Growing up, our neighborhood was filled with kids. We loved to play Kick the Can, Capture the Flag - in a 12 block by 13 block area - Baseball, Kickball, and Football, among other games. (Carlos hears my stories about the games we played in the streets as a kid and pictures us growing up poor.) Thanks to our older friend Doris who organized them, we even put on three full-production plays (including building the stage) in her back yard.

3. When my sister Christine and I were both young kids (each under seven), my Dad would hang out at Robert's Bar after work. Most nights, after a couple of hours, my Mom and us two kids would drive to the bar. Mom would coach Christine and I with the exact words, and send us in: "Daddy. When are you coming home?" Tears in our eyes were encouraged by Mom. I didn't understand the concept at the time, but my Dad certainly did. He came right home.

4. To me at 11 years old: "Don't tell your swim coach you have an upset stomach. This will be the only time you'll be able to go to Disney World for $100 [via the JCC Swim Team]." Three hours into the bus trip, I vomited all over myself, my clothes, and my seat mate. My swim coach called my mom and was PISSED - but the rest of my first trip to Disney World was fantastic.

5. When I graduated from college, after having worked for Kinko's for almost five years and having turned down a post-graduation job offer from them, I went to work for a Marketing company - my major. After the first day, I came home crestfallen: It was cold call selling of direct mail advertising. I hated it and felt like a failure. Still living at home right after graduation, the morning of my second day, I was ironing my pants getting ready for work - with tears in my eyes. Mom said: "You don't want to go? Don't go. Call them now so you'll get their answering machine. Then don't look back. Call Kinko's. Tell them that you feel bad that you left them in the lurch about the position they offered you and that you have changed your mind. Don't beg for your job. Spin it that you're doing them a favor." I took her advice and was working for Kinko's again that afternoon. I stayed for 10 years.

5. "Do what you love. The money will follow." I have followed that advice since I have started working. My Freshman year in college, I loved music and radio, and wanted to be a DJ on my college radio station - and auditioned to be a DJ. I got a shitty shift, but worked my way up to create The Birdman and Poker Show in Prime Time Tuesday nights. I was also picked by the Station Manager my Sophomore year to be the Program Director of the station. By my Junior year, the Media Council elected me Station Manager - complete with a full college scholarship (room, board, tuition and books!).

6. "I'm shy." My mother has always claimed to be an introvert, though having practiced for many years appearing as an extrovert. Most people who know her don't believe it. I always have - because I understand the base of what she means and that's what I aspire to also. She has always reminded me of Carol Burnett. Carlos says that this video clip is a perfect representation of her personality.

Carol Burnett from "Once Upon A Mattress"...



or Carol Burnett's version from 1964...



7. "Of course you are my favorite. Don't tell your sisters." Growing up, my two sisters and I all felt that we were the favorite child. We know now that there is no Sophie's Choice. Each child is the favorite. Each child is special. Each child is different. Each child is his/her own person - and was rewarded and encouraged toward his/her own path. And all three of us realize how hard that is to pull off by a parent.

8. "You're gay? Oh. Okay." I came out to her around July 2008 - when I was 41. I know. I know. I was old. [A long post on all that soon.] As you know, the opening line is crucial. Mine was, "You like Carlos, right? Well...He and I are more than friends." She was as cool about it as all my friends said for years she would be about it. I should have told her when I was 10.

9. "Carlos wants to buy a house? I'll be his real estate agent." For a year. The two of them - only, without me - traveled the city in search of the perfect house for Carlos. In the meantime, my boyfriend and my Mom bonded. Without me. Invaluable.