I don’t have a specific “earliest” memory of my mother. But here are some things I remember from my childhood. Posting a day earlier than usual in order to honor her on Mother’s Day.
Hair. My Mother had a weekly appointment to get her hair done every Saturday morning. As a one-car family, most Saturdays Dad would drop her off while he ran errands like taking the garbage to the dump or going to the bank with his three youngest in the back seat waiting for their lollipops from the teller.
When I was in elementary school, she would come home from working 3rd shift and do my hair before taking me to school. She would pull my long hair back into a ribbon, or braid ponytails. I think she secretly enjoyed doing hair. At the end of the school year, she would have all my hair cut off into a pixie-style cut. In the summer her children were wild, swimming, running, playing ball, building forts. There was no time for keeping an elegant hairstyle and I would get it all matted and snarled. She didn’t want that ordeal.
When I started getting rebellious, I got a shag haircut. Just once. It was awful, just like she told me it would be. You can see the mess it was while I was growing it out in the photo below. Then in high school, I started having my hair permed. She hated it. Hated it so much that when she got the proofs for my senior photos, she refused any of them and selected to have them retaken. She then scheduled a hair appointment for me and a photo session right after. My senior picture looks nothing like what I looked like in high school.
Surprisingly, though, it is one of the haircuts that I currently cycle through. And that’s my hair, even in my 60s, I go from a pixie cut to my senior year high school picture hair, to long hair that I usually pull back.
Fashion Rules. My Mother was famous for her fashion rules. Especially not wearing white after Labor Day and before Memorial Day. It’s not a rule anymore but back in the 60s it was enforced. I remember getting a beautiful pale yellow Easter outfit. Dress and coat. And my Mother insisted that I wear black patent leather shoes. I cried because I couldn’t get the white ones.
My Mother’s fashion rules were wide and well-known in her family. So well known that I have a specific post, Don’t Wear White After Labor Day, dedicated to them.
Mad Men/Women. No, my parents weren’t into advertising. But they did like to party. At least once a month, my parents had some kind of to-do. Sometimes just card parties. But other times it would be a full-blown cocktail party that went late into the early morning hours. When my husband heard those stories, all he could think of was the TV show Mad Men.
We would know what was going to happen by how much cleaning my Mother made us do on Saturday. If it was just the normal, laundry, clutter pick up, dust, and vacuum then it was just a normal Saturday. But if we were cleaning silver and taking out the cocktail glasses and making them sparkle, then we knew. Sometimes, people would come over right after dinner. But sometimes, my parents would be out at an Amaranth or Masonic event and the after-hours party was our house.
Before we went to bed, we were supposed to put out the chips, nuts, and vegetable platters—without eating any of them! Then we went to bed in our best pajamas because, at some point, Mother would call us out to be paraded around. It wasn’t so bad, because someone would always slip us a few dollars for being “good kids.” And then off we’d go to bed again while the party “raged” on below.
If you’re interested in other stories of my Mother’s escapades, then please read Mommyisms.
PS. If you wonder why I called her Mother and my Dad, Dad, it was her preference. But I didn’t know that at first, I used to call her Mom. It was until my husband Chris called her Mother one day, that she made a big deal about how that was her preference over Mom and only her son-in-law addressed her the proper way. Too bad we didn’t know until she was in her late 80s.