All of My Favourite Parts

In case you missed it, I defamed my mother terribly in my last post, I poked fun at her vanity and her constant need to feel and be perceived as young. But my mother is more than just her foibles. Although my Mom’s peccadillos are what make her into an interesting story, it’s her strengths like her ability to laugh at herself which make her so much fun to write about. And in this post, whether she likes it or not, I’m going to expound upon all of her strengths, and the qualities I love most about my Mom.

What I admire most about my mother is her willingness to be outside of the box. When I was younger, my mother was a hippie with a compost barrel before environmentalism was cool. My Mom always wore these unique, artsy jackets and dresses that made her stick out. But best of all, she was herself, this slightly nerdy lady who loved science and would let the whole world know it by covering our dining room table in overheads of organ systems. It was through watching this person who just delighted in who she was that I gained the confidence to be myself as well.

This sounds trivial but it isn’t – my mother is good at math. It was only after I entered university that I learned about the stereotype that girls struggle with math. After watching my mother, it never occurred to me that I would experience anything but success when faced with numbers. By the same token, my mother demonstrated to me that if I worked hard enough, I was capable of anything.

Earlier, I mentioned my Mom’s ability to make fun of herself. There is nothing which is more likely to elicit a huge laugh from my mother than a story lampooning either an action or a trait of hers. I always try to emulate this, to never take myself too seriously. In that same vein, my mother is always up for an adventure. Traveling or attempting new sports with her is a riot, because to my Mom, every mishap or fall is a story and a story is something to smile about.

Lastly, the quality that most often makes my mother a model to others is her level of fitness. Upon meeting my Mom for the first time, once her back is turned, people will say to me “Your mother is jacked” which is both true and false at the same time. For a person in their late fifties, my mother is probably in the ninety-ninth percentile in terms of physical fitness. However, throughout my teens and early twenties, my mother was actually jacked, with biceps that made boyfriends contemplate picking me up down the street to avoid facing her. She used to wear crop tops every day of the week to show off her rockin’ six pack. My mother viewed every chin up bar that she met as a challenge to be conquered, which, had video games not been invented by then and thus gobbled up the neighbourhood children, would have made walks to the local playground exceptionally awkward. Regardless of whether or not she can still bench press the neighbour’s sedan, my mother lives the adage “use it or lose it”, and has passed on this commitment of personal fitness to me.

While I take great pleasure in teasing my mother for her weaknesses, I love her most for her strengths because they’re what she’s passed on to me. These unique qualities are the ones that I hope my own children will possess. I’m doing my best to be an equally good model as my own mom was and is, but I must confess, those are some big (and jacked) shoes to fill.

All Hail Cookie Owl

Appearances are very important to my mother. Whether it’s appearing to be a good hostess, mother or much younger than her years, my mother’s vanity has always been an entertaining part of my life. If only because in every instance, I often end up dashing these dreams of competency and youth upon the rocks.

Once upon a time, when I thought My Little Pony was the answer to all the world’s problems, I was in Brownies. It was a horrible, weekly event that I was forced into under the guise of “making friends”, “appearing normal” and “trying new things”. I resisted the group at every turn. In an effort to support my participation, my mother agreed to become one of the leaders. The first week that she joined, everyone sat in a circle and we were asked to give our new leader a name. All the leader’s names ended with “Owl”, there was probably justification for this but as I spent the majority of the meetings calculating how many seconds were left until my parents picked me up, I don’t remember it.

Anyway, so my mother sat there, next to Sleepy Owl, Happy Owl and Sneezy Owl. These weren’t actually the women’s “Brownie Names” but I don’t remember either the women or the names, so they very well could have been small bearded men for all I know.

Sneezy Owl asked the group whether anyone had any suggestions for the new Owl’s name. Ever the helpful child, I raised my hand. “You should call her Thunder Owl because she yells a lot” I suggested. My mother was mortified and gave me the kind of look that said that the car ride wasn’t going to be fun so perhaps I shouldn’t count the seconds this evening. She ended up being Cookie Owl, only the second most boring name after Happy Owl. Regardless, she could pretend to maintain the facade of being a perfect parent.

Although my mother denies that she yells, more often, she denies her age. The most recent example of this would be the name she demanded Mini-Tex call her. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, it’s not Cookie Owl. Even though her own mother became a grandma at fifty and willingly took on the moniker “Gran”, at fifty-eight, my mother decided she was to young to be a grandma and refused to be called any incarnation of the title, not granny, not buba, not grams. Instead she invented her own name – Gemma. She took the “g” and “m” from grandma and made a hip title so no one would dare offer her a discount on the early bird special.

One would think that denying the existence of a grandchild would be the pinnacle in narcissistic acts, but this week, my mother took it one step further. She chose to deny that she was a parent. No, she wasn’t parading around claiming that we were sisters, she chose to instead deny her role as a step parent.

Gary, a family friend and trusted contractor, made the jump last year to boyfriend status. My mother even upped the ante by having him move in with her. Since then, they have attended each other’s family functions, she routinely makes meals for his children and Gary’s sons often sleep over. Which led to the following conversation.

Unwashed – “So as their step parent”

Mom – “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on. No one is anyone’s step parent.”

Unwashed – “I’m sorry, do they regularly sleep at your house?”

Mom – “Yes”

Unwashed – “Do you often make them meals?”

Mom – “Yes, but”

Unwashed rudely cutting her mother off – “Do you worry about how they’re doing in school and whether they’re attending.”

Mom in an obvious state of discomfort – “Yes, it’s different”

Unwashed obnoxiously talking loudly over her mother – “STEP PARENT!”

I’m not actually sure why my mother is denying her step children’s existence, they’re even teenagers so it would totally feed into her love of being mistaken for being much younger than she is. I think it’s one of those times where I just have to shake my head and smirk inwardly as everyone calls my mother “Cookie Owl” to soothe her ego. For the record, “Thunder Owl” is much more bad ass. It’s what a Hell’s Angel’s member would demand to be called if they weren’t too busy dealing cocaine to attend their children’s extra-curricular activities.