Heather and I were e-mailing today about parents and such, and it has inspired me to blog. I have titled it Mama said, because I want to talk about things my mama (and my dad) taught me that might run outside the gamut of don’t touch hot things sort or talk to strangers type of thing. Here we go:
Rule #1: My mother is a very faithful potlucker and is “that person” who makes those fun shaped cookies or that dip that no one’s ever heard of. One day she had been very excited about a work potluck, but then ran out of time to make anything. I was fairly young (under 10) and my mom was throwing a lunch of sorts together for the next day. I had said something along the lines of why don’t you just eat at the potluck anyways? My mother looked at me very seriously and said “now you listen to me Jess. If you don’t make something for a potluck, you should NEVER eat at one. Do you understand?” I do now. It’s strange, but to this day when there is a work potluck, if I don’t bring anything, I don’t eat. Even when all of my co-workers are pushing me to eat, I can feel my mother’s loving death glare even from Sumner.
Rule #2: I was trying to find a friend to see “Indian in the Cupboard” with me when I was about 8 or 9 and wasn’t having much luck. I called what seemed like hundreds of people and no one could come… Well I was finally able to find someone who could go and I was elated. I told her that I had called tons of people and no one could go, so I was so glad she could come. My parents gave each other a look and continued doing what they were doing. It’s amazing how much my parents could communicate with a single second stare. It conveyed “we’ll take care of this later.” Well after the cinematic masterpiece was over and we dropped my friend off my parents gave each other that same look and my dad started in. “Jess… you should NEVER tell someone that you called lots and lots of people before you called them because it makes them feel unimportant and that’s just not cool.” (Whenever my dad would try and relate to us, “cool” was his favorite word to use.) I remember feeling very ambushed at the time, but needless to say I never said it again.
Rule #3: My mom and us four kids were at the grocery store and Hank and I were sitting in the cart. This was a very common scene, Hank would be at one end and I would be at the other and we would be chest deep in groceries. Sometimes it was rather uncomfortable with spaghetti boxes jabbing into my ribs or sitting on some double A batteries. Anyways, we were passing the canned dog food and Hank thought it looked delicious. Well, I said something along the lines of “Hank, you’re a dog!” My mother stopped the cart and gave me that famous stare. It’s the kind of stare that is so powerful you literally feel helpless and somewhat stripped of any protection. She walked towards me and in a very firm voice explained that you NEVER ever call anyone a dog. That’s like calling them a bad name. I didn’t want to tell her at the time that I had been appointed to give Hank his X-Men mutant name and named him after Comet, the dog from Full House. It still rubs me the wrong way when I hear what up, dog?
Rule #4: After anything horrific or traumatic has happened, the first thing you should do is wash your face. When we were kids, if someone fell off their bike or had their feelings hurt, it was always “well, go wash your face, it’ll make you feel better.” In college, I would call my mom in tears over what some boy had said or a less than perfect grade and my mom in a very loving tone would say Jess, have you washed your face yet? Or it would be Jess, everything will be fine. Now, when you get off the phone with me, go wash your face, ok? This has been one of the best rules my mom has ever given me. In the face of disaster, step one: wash your face.
I could literally go on and on, but I’ll stop here. Such simple lessons, yet they have carried me through my life. I loved the way my parents raised us. They just needed to say it once (well for me at least 0:) ) and I was sure to never do it again. Mom, dad, if you guys are reading this, you’re the best. Thanks for making me the crazy, clean faced, compassionate person I am today.