Mother: More Than Just Neosporin and Band-aids.

Have you ever looked into your mother’s eyes and seen past the woman who is caregiver, chef, and chauffeur? I have. It was 1986, the year I turned sixteen.

That year, my mother threw me a huge birthday party, Fifties style. She bought hoola-hoops and poodle skirts and drove me and my best friend all over downtown Fort Worth in search of records — old 45’s.

My best friend  and I fell into each other and giggled, while my mother danced around the record bins. When she lit up over a find of Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” and Sam Cooke’s “Only Sixteen” and bubbled over with stories about when she was a teenager, we gawked. She was more alive than I’d ever seen her. It was as if I’d discovered a window to a secret room; for that moment, she was my mother, but she was so much more.

As I thought about writing this post, I searched through a stack of old pictures and found this photo of her:

Betty Jo

My mother was a model. I forget that sometimes. Some days, it takes me a minute to remember that she was also an actress. And, an artist. That she painted a self portrait in secret when I was ten, and my sister and I weren’t supposed to see it. She was a mystery;  sometimes when she laughed too hard, she sounded as if she were crying.

At almost forty-one, I am neither young nor old but am almost the same age as my mother when I turned sixteen. When I look in the mirror, I see her neck, her freckled shoulders, her brown eyes. And, in those eyes, I see pieces of myself that amount to my whole.

My favorite sculpture of my mother's.

I am a mother. But, besides that, I am a knitter. A writer. Sometimes, I am an artist. Once in a while, I am a baker. I can bake a killer loaf of bread (and by that I mean a loaf dense and heavy enough to kill).

On the outside, I am crow’s feet and a soft, post-childbirth belly; but on the inside, I am 1986 and 1992 (another good year), spirited and mysterious in my own right. And, when I wrap my arms around my children and breathe in the scent of their freshly-shampooed hair or the essence of their good and hard play outside, I think my God, on top of everything, I am a mother!

Yesterday, I picked up Natalie Merchant’s CD, Leave Your Sleep, and her song “Bleezers Ice Cream,” reminded me of the many facets behind every mother. There was so  much more to mine than I knew; I wish I’d stood longer at the window and studied her more.


27 responses to “Mother: More Than Just Neosporin and Band-aids.

  1. Great post Christi! Our moms do so much for us but it is easy to forget that they have their own dreams, aspirations and drives…well, of course they do, otherwise how would they teach us those same things 🙂

    Happy Mothers Day to you and all the other fantastic mom’s!

  2. My mother will be 87 next month, and has pretty much forgotten much of what she was. Her dementia makes it difficult for the rest of us to see beyond the disconnection, and distressing for my Dad to try. My generation, and those following, have so many more options for recording our lives than they did. Perhaps it will be less easy to forget the person behind the familiar role, in future. Great post, Christi.

    • Oh, Suzanne, My heart goes out to you.

      Yes. We take today’s technology for granted sometimes (or, at least I know I do), and you’re right. It’s so important — we should record as much as we can!

      I’m so glad you stopped by here.

  3. Pingback: Mother: More Than Just Neosporin and Band-aids. (via Writing Under Pressure) « Suzanne Conboy-Hill – finding fiction

  4. Such a lovely post, Christi. I wish I had stood longer at my mother’s window when I was younger, but I’m trying to do it more now. I ask questions in the pauses, and she’s started to share more of her past.

    I love the story of your 16th birthday, and of your mom dancing around — makes me wonder which moments my children will remember of me.
    Happy Mother’s Day!

  5. Wow, Christi! Another terrific post, and, a lovely, lovely tribute. Thanks!

  6. Enjoyed this post a lot, Christi. The stuff about your mother is fascinating. Beautiful tribute to her, too. I agree with you that motherhood is precious. Blessings to you on Mother’s Day.

  7. Christi, this is good. Really, really good. What a portrait you’ve painted – of both your mom and of you. You are, indeed, a writer. xoxo

  8. Pingback: Writing Motherhood | Writing Life

  9. Christi, you made me cry. This is a sensational post. Happy Mothers Day to you.

  10. CameSawShopped

    Lovely post…lovely Mom! And, lucky too for seeing your Mom in many
    hats…not just the Mom hat!

  11. So much of this beautiful post resonates with me and my experience, Christi. We have a lot to talk about on Wednesday. 🙂

  12. This has me in tears …

    It’s a wonderful post, Christi … absolutely wonderful.

  13. What a lovely tribute to your mother. Happy belated Mother’s Day.

  14. I am sure your mother would be very happy to know that you honoured her by writing this post. What a beauty she was! I think regret is part of the human condition, but she continues to live through you and your children. Thank you for sharing! Elizabeth.

  15. What a great story! I wish I had a mom like yours. Instead, I try to be a mom like yours, who would be a lot like the one I wanted to have.

    What a lovely woman she was and you are!

    Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

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