Just because my mom is not the type to drive over with a pot of home-made chicken soup when I am sick does not mean she is a bad mother. She certainly is a different, independent type of mother, but make no mistake, she is a mother who loves me and my sister very much. We grew up in the fifties and probably watched too many Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best episodes to think that baking cookies and meatloaf was the only thing a mother should do. She hated cooking and I inherited that except for my famous banana bread recipe, amazing guacamole and funny enough, my chicken soup and my pea soup. Once, when I was 4 or 5, she tried to make a pineapple upside down cake but it came out right side up. I remember her frustration and our laughter. It is one of my favorite young memories.
My mom had no role models to learn from, no one. How COULD she know? Both her parents died when she was very young, her mother died when she was 5 and her father when she was 14. She had only a wicked stepmother and a horrendous stepbrother. She thought she was loved by her step-mother but she wasn’t. She just clung on to the hope, I could see through that wicked old woman at the age of eight. My mom needed to cling on to the only source of love she had known.
She is exceedingly charming, people fall in love continuously. Strangers flock to her, people adore her for her intelligence and wit. When she was younger she traveled the world as an interpreter (French, German, Hebrew, English) with important people and saw many incredible sights in different countries. She once took me to what was known as the former Yugoslavia on a tour. We walked around and heard noises from a big open garden, we heard the words “kicki-ricki” over and over again. I wanted to run and hide, my mother? She followed the noises determined to find out what “kicki ricki” was. I was sure it was heroin or crack cocaine, something illegal. I never was a hero but my mother was and she linked arms with me and said “we are going to find out what this is.” I begged her to drop it but I knew I had no chance. We entered the garden and started hearing the noise again, “kicki ricki.” My mother marched up to the man and directly asked him what kivki ricki was: he smiled, held out his hand and showed us the bag of peanuts he was selling. Of course we bought a pack, my mother triumphant and incredibly pleased with herself. If I could sum up my mom in one example that would be it.
She may have not been the stereotypical mother who made chocolate chip cookies while I was at school but she taught me so many more important things: to be independent, to keep a little money for myself aside from my husband, to be strong. Mother-Daughter relationships have never been easy, entire books have been written about them, songs have been sung, movies filmed, feelings hurt but the bond is undeniably strong, one of the closest bonds you will probably ever know. I’m sorry my mother never knew that bond, that bond of safety and love with her own mother. I have that bond with my children, I would do anything for them, at any time. They are my life.
I love you mama with all my heart, even though you don’t bring chicken soup. I know you love us deeply and would do anything to help us or make us happy. Your love, mama bear, is protective and I know you love both of us with every fiber of your being and with all your heart. I love you the same and more. This song is for you, it’s our song, it always has been.