Friday Flashback: Fun Mother

May 27, 2005
Since my Mom is in town, I figured I’d dedicate this Friday Flashback to her.

My mother is full of stories, and one of her earliest ones went like this –

When she was a teenager, she used to baby-sit these two little kids that lived in her neighborhood. One night, they made her make a solemn promise, that when she grew up and had her own babies, she would always, always, always be a fun mother.

And so it was.

Growing up, we did have our fair share of fun. Whenever she’d buy a bag of candy, it was never just distributed any old way.


We played “parade.”

My mom would stand in the living room, throw up handfuls of candy and yell “Parade! Whee!”

And we’d scramble for the candy on the ground. I don’t know why but my Mom loved throwing stuff up in the air. She was the first person to ever teach me how to play “52 pickup.”

Which reminds me of another story.

We were about to go on vacation one summer and she’d just come back from the bank with a wad of cash. I think it was like $3,000 in 50s. Anyway – my dad was at work, but we were all home – so she comes in with the money, holding it like a fan – and then she says:

“Have you ever seen so much cash at once?”

She took a sniff and then, in Fun Mother fashion, she threw the wad in the air and yelled “Whee!”

We laughed as the money fluttered down all around us.

Of course the laughs stopped as soon as we realized one of the 50s was missing. We searched high and low for that bill, listening to her chant:

“Oh my God, your father’s going to kill me. He’s going to kill me!”

We finally found it, wedged in the one of the couch cushions.

Of course, we didn’t always have money to throw around. In fact- there were quite a few lean years. My mom chose to stay home and raise us and so that meant sacrifices had to be made.

Of course, that didn’t mean we couldn’t have fun.

My mother was the queen of the “free event.” I didn’t even make this realization until a few years ago.

If there was a free festival – we were there. Maybe we brought our own little drink bottles filled with koolaid or water and maybe we didn’t get cotton candy, funnel cakes or other things- but we were there. Soaking in the sites, the sounds and the smells.

If a parade was going on – we were there on the sidelines. Free beads and candy, you know? What could be more fun?

The funniest thing, though, is that we used to listen to the local Top 40 radio pretty much all the time and her ears were always perked up during commercials for the words “remote” or “grand opening.”

Often we’d be driving back from church on Sunday, she’d tune in and there’d be a commercial announcing the grand opening of Drug Emporium with free pizza and cokes.

So she’d say with the biggest thrill in her voice: “Ya’ll want pizza?!?!”

And we’d scream “YEAH!” and in 10 minutes we’d be at Drug Emporium, gobbling down pizza and cokes and pretending to want to buy something. Actually, she always bought a small something or other – so as not to appear “tacky.”

Of course, when the barbeque beef on a bun and root beer remote was at a car dealership, buying a little something was a different matter.

There are other memories of “tents” in the living room and chalk masterpieces on the back patio. That year we made our own Halloween decorations and costumes. The time she took me to see Back to the Future at the dollar movie late on school night because she was cool like that. The silly things we used to do to our hair and all of the “experiments” we conducted with her makeup.

My mom was the cool mom to have at a slumber party. She was the one to teach you how to actually freeze underwear. My mom brought awesome cupcakes to our Easter party at school. My mom made fantastically decorated cakes for our birthdays. My mom was the mom who had cookies baking when you walked in from school and said “Go look on your bed! There’s a surprise!”

And maybe the surprise was the new underwear you needed – but at least they weren’t plain white. At least they had Strawberry Shortcake on them!

I look back on those days with such fondness. Those were days when going out to eat meant McDonald’s. When going on “vacation” meant going to a relative’s house in Houston. When going swimming meant buying a kiddie pool at Walmart and filling it up in the backyard with the hose.

Although no one’s ever made me solemnly swear to be a fun mother I do hope that I will be. I hope that one day my Beanie will remember the crazy fun things that I used to do when he or she was young. I think I have a pretty good chance of being such a mom.

I had one hell of a teacher.

9:17 a.m. ::
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