Quilting is one of the few places in my life where all the corners meet and stay put. On this blog I plan to ruminate about quilting and life, the quilted life, cat and quilts, and any old thing that falls in and out of my brain. I'd be pleased to hear from you on all of this or any topic of interest!
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Friday, November 23, 2012
A Toast to my Mother (on the occasion of her 80th birthday, November 11, 2012)
On the occasion of my mother’s 80th birthday, I spent some time thinking about all the things my mother taught me and wanted to share a few of them with you tonight. I have entitled this little reverie:
A Toast to my Mother (or how to clean a house well with some regularity)
1. Make your bed as soon as you get out of it.
2. Shake rugs vigorously every morning.
3. Bring in the milk (remember Baker’s Dairy home delivery?).
4. Take Muffie out to pee.
1. Bev washes and Ginnie dries the dinner dishes OR Ginnie washes and Bev dries. We fought about this constantly. Denise….Denise just looks cute.
Cleaning tasks on a Weekly basis:
1. Clean your bedroom closet floor and top shelf.
2. Clean and straighten your dresser drawers.
3. Scrub the oven racks OR scrub the inside of the refrigerator (take turns with your sister Bev on these tasks).
4. Do the ironing: Dad’s hankies, pillow cases, dish towel. Dish towels?
On a Quarterly basis:
1. Take the four white vinyl and chrome kitchen chairs down to the basement and scrub them with Comet (or when Mom is not looking, put them in the shower, get them wet and have done with it).
2. Give Muffie a bath (ditto on the shower routine)
Fortunately for us, there was only one annual household task bit it was a whopper: Tear the entire house apart and clean everything (even the walls – we were already attacking the mopboards with some regularity).
As you can imagine, this was quite a lot of work for a kid and I haven’t even listed the yard work DAD had us doing so, being an inventive child, I came up with my own coping strategies and I call these:
HINTS FOR VARIOUS TASKS AND GENERAL HOUSEHOLD ORDER
1. While scrubbing the floor (on your hands and knees, of course), pretending you are Cinderella, that is to say, a REAL princess, can help you get through the task. DO NOT DEIGN to speak when spoken to while performing this job, an action that will lead your mother to utter the constant lament, “talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.” (No, mother dear, it is like talking to a princess.)
2. While putting away the folded laundry, fool your baby sister into helping you by pretending your house is a hotel and she must accept delivery of the clean laundry at every room door and put it away. WORKED EVERY TIME.
3. Be constantly prepared to act cool, calm and collected when discovering changes in the organization of household items, such a dishes. When in the process of washing, drying and putting away plates, bowls and glassware, DO NOT exclaim: “Jeez! You changed everything around again!” to which your mother will reply: “the dishes have been in the same place for years now.” UNTRUE.
All kidding aside, I must confess it was WONDERFUL to grow up in such a clean and well ordered house. Here then is the list of things, I actually DID learn from my mother:
1. Homework before TV.
2. Going outside “blows the stink” off of me.
3. Yes, I have eaten this before and I loved it so much, I asked for seconds.
4. If you see a mess, clean it up. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.
5. Household budgets are helpful and necessary tools and yes, we are having chipped beef on toast for dinner tonight because tomorrow is grocery day (read: payday).
6. It is a good idea not to get pregnant whiles still a teen-ager because it costs lots of money to have a baby.
7. Skin cancer is a myth. Sunbathing using baby oil and iodine is actually good for your skin.
8. Bed slats will fall out with a loud crashing noise when too much vigorous activity occurs on the bed.
9. It is very important to be there for your children.
10. In order to save time and energy, refer to your children in the plural – the girls!
11. No dancing on the living room carpet.
12. No sitting on the “nice furniture” if you are wearing jeans.
13. Curlers in your hair and fuzzy bathrobes are REQUIRED attire for Christmas morning pictures.
14. No wearing jeans to school.
15. Attendance at church and Sunday school is required every week.
16. No switching coats with your best friend on the playground at recess.
17. Clean your plate – there are starving children in China and India.
18. No lounging around in your bedroom – that’s what the basement is for.
19. The church family with the most kids will bring the smallest contribution to the potluck.
20. Get up, get it done, and quit complaining about it.
The reason humans repeat the same old cliques is because within each lies great truths so I am going to use one now: I did not truly appreciate my mother until I had children of my own.
Without a great many words, my mother taught me hard work, patience, discipline, and order out of chaos. She showed me that having a successful marriage and raising children, while running a home, all at the same time, took management and organizational skills a Fortune 500 CEO would admire.
You know, when you are a kid, things happen in your life over which you have no control. As you all know, Marian Louise Taylor Long did not give birth to me and my sister Bev. We were part and parcel of a marriage deal she signed on for with the man she met and fell in love with in the late 1950’s. As my dad was fond of saying, it was, “love me, love my dog,” or pups in this case. And Dad, I take some exception to the dog reference but we will save that for YOUR 80th birthday party.
So here is Marian, 26 years young, married and an instant mother of two. I can only imagine the huge breath she took before beginning that first day of married life after the honeymoon trip was over, face with the task of raising two daughters, loving a man who had been very hurt in the past, and creating a home.
I imagine she put us right to work… cleaning.
But seriously, I credit my mother with bringing order into what must have been a potentially disordered family, giving us routine and stability, the core values of church attendance, good grades and cleanliness, GREAT basketball skills (the woman can whoop your ass at HORSE), and quiet courage and determination. She and my father also gave me the best (and blondest) baby sister a girl could ever ask for, although we were understandably jealous and yes, we did try to kill her once or twice, but I will save those stories for Denise’s 80th birthday dinner.
My mother. I suspect she is a Republican but I can forgive her for that. I suspect she knows I love her. I don’t think she knows how much. This I absolutely know is true: I am a good mother because she was a good mother. Mom, as I watch my daughter Jamie raising my grandson, Wyatt, I acknowledge that Jamie is a good mother because of you being my mother. And my daughter Becky is a great teacher to 10 year olds for the same reason.
I am all grown up now. There are still things in my world that I cannot control but I can control this. I can tell you, Mom, how much I appreciate you coming into my life at a very young age (both of us), making the disorderly orderly, creating a home that was a safe (and clean!) haven to grow up in, loving me even though I wasn’t your own, making me your own.
Helping to make me the person I am today, a Democrat!
So, on behalf of my entire side of the “famn damily:” Jamie, Jeff and Wyatt in California, Becky and Todd in Texas, all who wish they could have been here tonight, and my husband George and I, please join me in raising a glass to my mother:
Happy 80th birthday, Mom, with love and appreciation for all you have done to make us strong and productive, out there making a positive impact on the world.
You kept us busy, you taught us well, but I guarantee, none of us are keeping our houses as clean as you do!
Tons of ideas about quilts in my pointy little head and never enough time, I am married to my sweetheart, have two beautiful daughters, two fantastic son-in-laws, one precious grandson, two crazy, lazy cats AND a full time job. When, you ask, does she find time to quilt? I sleep very little. Not by choice, mind you. Just the facts, ma'am.