In my tweens and teens, there was no worse insult than telling me I looked just like my mom. Or that I had her same personality. (Yes, being a jerk to the woman who sacrificed so much for me did seal my fate of having sassy-mouthed kids.)
But, you can’t fight reality forever. She and I do look alike. And yes, I have some of her same quirks. We’re fun at parties. What I really hope though, is that I can some day be a mom just like her.
You think your mom does birthdays and holidays really well? Pshaw. My mom rocks birthdays and holidays. You get your favorite meal cooked at home and served on the ‘I Am Special’ plate. (Mine was always hot dogs and my mom’s famous fried potatoes.) Birthday cards are displayed on the mantle for at least a week, as is the ‘Happy Birthday’ banner. In college she sent me a birthday box when she thought my friends were not going to live up to her standards. It literally had all you needed to have a very Suzanne Karmann (my mom) birthday. There were plates, napkins, noise makers, a crown, and confetti. (Keep in mind I was in my early 20’s.) I already had the banner, so she knew that was covered.
Nana has a banner for EVERY holiday, and when we were living at home, we got cards and small gifts at our place at the breakfast table for every holiday as well. If Hallmark makes a card for it, Suzanne Karmann celebrates it. Christmas was invented so my mom could have a whole month (or two) to decorate, cook, and generally plan hoopla and festive outings. Seriously, it’s her thing, and she takes it very seriously. The woman has an attic full of decorations for this holiday. One year, my husband and I were helping with the annual ‘get all the boxes down so Nana can take a trip down memory lane over every item’ event. My husband looked at the garage filled with Christmas and said, “I think I’m seeing my future.” To which my dad replied, “Yeah, probably with a lot of this same crap.”
My mom lives to feed her family. She has been known to rent a second refrigerator for major holidays. When her kids and grandkids are staying with her, every meal is a labor of love. You are not expected to grab a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Oh no, not with Suzanne Karmann around. You’ll get eggs! And bagels! And fruit! And Star Wars-shaped pancakes! It amuses me to no end to see my husband try to do for himself in her kitchen. He loves her and all she does for us but is just used to being independent, and she just wants him to give in and become another mouth to feed something special.
One of the best things about my mom is how much she cheers for her kids and grandkids. I danced a lot when I was growing up, and she always told me I was the best one. And I always believed her; I danced like I owned the place, and it showed. (I never believed her that I was cute, but that’s my problem, not her lack of work.) In her eyes, we can all do whatever we want and do it well. My sister-in-law and I joke about how my mom prefaces all her compliments with, “All my babies….” and then proceeds to talk about how any one of us could cure cancer soon.
These are just a few of the things that my mom does that are my ideal of what a good mom is. But I don’t think she knows it.
When I was younger, I had a very good friend named Shelly. She and I kept in touch through many moves by my family and growing up by both of us. When we reunited to become roommates in college, I found out she had always wanted to be in my family, and my mom was the reason why. She felt my mom was loving and caring and just all-around on top of all the things a mom should do. I think my mom would laugh until she cried about that. As with most moms, I don’t think she thought much of herself when she was in the midst of all the crazy.
And now that I’m a mom, I need her so much more than ever before. It’s not just that I need her example and wisdom; I need that cheerleading and food! She gets me through the rough stuff with her funny stories of being a young mom. Guys, she used to change the sheets on my brothers’ cribs EVERY DAY. (I only changed them after significant staining.) She has given me the best advice about being a modern woman:
“You can be caught up at work. You can be caught up at home. You will never be caught up at both, and sometimes you will be caught up at neither.”
She is a somewhat rosy-glasses kind of person about things she plans and wants, but she keeps me grounded in what to expect from life. It can be hard but happy and fun. Do the best you can and screw the idea of perfect anything.
Except for being a perfect grandmother. She pretty much owns that.
We love you so much Nana. And I respect and adore you to the moon and back.