“YOUR MOTHER was an excellent role model!” my friend says.
I’ve never heard those words before.
And now our conversation comes to a grinding halt.
She sees my face, my confused look.
“Well, think about it,” she says.
* * *
I have driven 1-1/2 hours to spend the day,
to see her new house,
to see her babies,
to let our kids play together.
Look at us now! We are all grown-up ladies of twenty-something.
We sit and chat like the old days,
instead of talking about
boys and what to do with our hair,
we talk about childrearing
and what to do with our hair.
The topic has turned to kids and food – how to get children to eat what’s good for them and how to help them develop a taste for those things.
My friend feels overwhelmed by the challenge.
That’s when she make her incredible statement:
“At least you had a good example.
Your mother was an excellent role model!“
* * *
“THINK ABOUT IT,” she said. “I don’t remember ever going into your house when your mother didn’t have vegetables or fruit sitting out, right there for the taking.”
“Oh, that.” True, yes.
Celery on a bed of ice,
sitting at counter’s edge.
Carrot sticks, apple slices, orange wedges.
And, at breakfast, sectioned grapefruit
when it was in season –
(well, it was never in season in New Jersey,
but it was in season somewhere)
– a maraschino cherry in the center, if you liked. I didn’t. But a little honey would be nice, thank you very much.
You would come downstairs and find the table set round with halved grapefruits in small bowls. After eating the sections, you could squeeze out the juice and drink it right from the bowl. On a weekday!
I assumed everyone’s house was like this when their mothers were sober.
* * *
I never knew. Truth was, I didn’t go to everyone else’s house because I didn’t want them coming to mine, not knowing what a day might turn out to be, celery-on-ice or the coat closet.
* * *
“AND SEE WHAT I MEAN?” she asks, pointing to the veggie tray I brought with me. “This is lovely, but it wouldn’t have crossed my mind to bring it.”
“It was all I could think to bring,” I say.
“My point exactly. You learned that from your mother. And that’s what I hope will pop to my kids’ minds when they are grown.”
There I was, a young mother, trying not to be my mother, and now this was thrown into the mix, that maybe I don’t want to be completely unlike her. Not completely.
* * *