Sunday, May 9, 2010

Finding Common Ground - A Tribute to Mom

Mom doesn’t like wine—never has, never will. She doesn’t like much really; her diet consists of coffee, bread, chocolate, steak, potatoes, cantaloupe and Pepsi (in that order). When I was growing up, cigarettes were really first on that list, but somehow the fear of walking around with oxygen tankfully motivated her to kick her pack-and-a-half-day habit.

Mom’s an amazing woman whom I admired while growing up for her strength and presence and then somehow tried my hardest to avoid becoming as an adult. When I recognize her mannerisms within me, rather than appreciating them, I turn and run from them like a champion sprinter—please don’t let me be like her. Does every girl fear becoming her mother?

On the rare and stupid occasions I compared Mom to Grandma, I was met with one of the most evil glares I’ve ever seen my mother wear. She does this death stare where you can feel her eyes flashing daggers that dig deep into you, searing your raw flesh. Ouch.

Mom’s mom was not a pleasant woman. She was a Polish-Jewish immigrant who married a poor man she didn’t really love and who never gave her the life she wanted. I hate to speak badly of the dead, but truthfully, she was a mean, bitter woman who was jealous of her own daughters and intent on punishing everyone and making anyone around her miserable—please don’t let me be like her. Even Grandma’s kindest words were backhanded compliments, like “With a punim (face) like that, you think you’d have found yourself a rich husband by now.” Thanks Grandma. While I guess the mother/daughter jealousy thing’s not unusual, perhaps I’m lucky I have two sons (though I did so want that daughter, why exactly again?).

Mom’s defense was and still is humor and it’s served her well over the years, both to protect her from her mother’s quick jabs and evil tongue, and also in areas beyond mere protection. One of her claims to fame is making my father belly laugh—almost daily—even after 50 years of marriage. Those deep, silent laughs that leave his stomach jiggling like a big bowl of Jello, his eyes streaming wet with tears and his lungs screaming for breath. And if you knew my dad, who’s a serious and very reserved man, you’ll know it’s not an easy feat. And it’s not just Dad, I watch her when we’re out in public; she derives immense pleasure, as if it’s her meaning in life, to make others around her laugh.

I love this about her. As a child, I also hated this about her since what I really wanted was to just slip by unnoticed most of the time, and there she was drawing attention to us.

Lucky me, I did receive her gift of sarcasm, and hopefully a tiny bit of her wit lives on in me too, but I’ve found myself completely entranced with things she’s never been remotely interested in. She tried to keep me sheltered in her world of burned barbequed steak and french fries, brainwashing me against haute cuisine, but I’ve uncovered something that’s touched the very depth of my soul, and sadly, no matter how hard I try, I'll never be able to share it with her.

She doesn’t understand my passion for food and wine. She says, “Will you stop swirling that glass already.” She turns her nose up when I mention the foods I'm enjoying. She has no patience or comprehension of wine tasting, my project, articles I’ve written or this blog for that matter. I’d be willing to wager a guess she’s never even looked at my blog or even knows what a blog is (if you ever do look Mom, I love you!). Though her mind is open in most areas, she’s more finicky than a child when it comes to food and drink. It’s one of our greatest differences and I’m perfectly at peace with that. So, while Mom may not like wine and I’ll never like coffee, at least we can always agree on chocolate.

Happy Mother’s Day to inspiring and loving moms everywhere! Until we sip again…



6512 and growing said...

Oh that cracked me up. Your mom is certainly a character with a sharp wit.

An amazing thing she did was give you tremendously generous childcare when Devon was young.

Does she really not read your blog?

Sip with Me! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sip with Me! said...

Rachel, my mom is hilarious and generous beyond belief; she is very good to me but no, she (nor any other family member) reads my blog :( Thank you for commenting and I'm glad I made you laugh!

Portland Charcuterie Project said...

Wow.. now I know where you got those legs from.

thanks mom!!

Sip with Me! said...

Ha ha, thanks Todd! My mom was/still is quite a dish :)