Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thanks for Everything, Mom. In Return, I Wrote a Blog.

It's Flag Day! Also known as Mel's Mom's Birthday! Cute story: when Mom was little, she thought the neighbors all hung flags on June 14 to celebrate her. Reality: they do. Wave your flags for my mom, y'all!

Here's the thing about my mom. Well, a few things. She had her first baby in May of 1968. She had her fourth baby in October of 1972. Those were my brothers - my sister and I were in between. So, as you might guess if you do the math, she had a lot of years there of maternal blur. Happy years, if my memories serve. (They may not. I was a bit young.)

Part of what remains of our
collection from the 70s
I don't know what she thought of it all, while making sure we ate our vegetables (or pretending not to notice that I fed all my peas to the dog), went to bed on time (my sister and I shared a room until I was 8. I think they bought a bigger house so she wouldn't have to come threaten us into silence every night), played well together (best inventive punishment: sitting us under the dining table looking at each other until we stopped fighting), and generally had a good life. She bought each of us our own Han Solo action figures so we wouldn't fight as much during our many Star Wars games. She rewired the attic when my sister and I earned (by dint of being teenage girls, I believe) our own phone line. She eventually stopped trying to serve me peas.

So it was a good thing, growing up with my mom as the mom. But, you know, kids. I was pretty involved with negotiating complex alliances with my siblings, playing Little House, throwing tantrums, being The Best Student My Teacher Had Ever Met, checking out more library books than I could carry home, enjoying all of the early-adopted technology Mom got (BetaMax! Atari! Cable TV! Commodore 64! Walkman!), and being otherwise a self-absorbed kid to give my relationship with Mom much thought. I mean, except when periodically convincing myself that I was the favorite of her four children, but it was easy to reassure myself on that point, and then I could move on to adoring my cat (he also loved me best) and bartering with my brothers and sister over the chore chart.

So that was my first 18 years. Then I went off to California and England for college / grad school (oh, yeah, thanks Mom & Dad, for funding my education.) I got married. And at 23, I went to work for my family business. Well, I'd worked there off and on - that's the deal with family businesses. The kids end up answering phones or taking inventory or (if they're Mom's favorite) helping to layout the new catalog. I can't tell you how impressed I was watching Mom use the adding machine - her fingers flew over those keys. (I tried to impress my 12 year old with my own 10-key skills last week. He shrugged. I do believe kids who take keyboarding in 3rd grade and start texting in 6th ought to have more respect for the fleet fingers of their forebearers.)

But this was full time work. A job. As it turned out, a career. If you want to know how a woman with an MA in Creative Writing ends up VP of a multimillion dollar corporation, just check in with my mom. Because it's not like I knew a lot about AP, HR, or IFTA reports before I started working at Fixtures. I learned everything by helping her, then taking over some of what she did, and eventually taking over most of what she did. I love Dad and all, but was never very interested in the manufacturing side of our manufacturing company. (Sis was, and that's why she took over his side of things. Parents have to retire sometime.) (That was an instruction, not an observation. Parents, retire already!)

And it's surprisingly fun, how well I can rock a spreadsheet. I like my job. (Well, you'd hope, since I've been there full time for 19 years now.) But as awesome as time cards are, the best part of those 19 years has been working with Mom. Sharing office space, eating lunch together (okay, for a long time, eating whatever she brought for lunch. I feed myself now, usually, but I admit: grown up, and my parents make my lunch.) Bringing my sons to work when they were babies. Talking constantly about my kids, my husband (only good things! I promise! I mean, not promise, but....), remodeling our kitchens, and always having a sympathetic ear. We talk about books while doing the books, we laugh at ridiculous government reporting requirements together, and no one else in the world will roll her eyes with me if I just mention the name of that one vendor's AR person. Or that other one, either.

It has been so great, working this closely with Mom. (She should still retire.) So, happy birthday, Mom, and thanks for teaching me, well, everything. Except how to rewire the attic, but that's okay, I didn't really want to know. I love you.


  1. And I love you, Melanie. Sometimes best.

  2. What a lovely tribute to your mom!