If the photo below looks familiar – bed, curtain, vase, mug - there’s a reason for it. That brass-framed queen size bed was the setting for many a breakfast-in-bed growing up in the small town of Northfield, Minnesota.
It was only while at my parents this weekend, flipping through photo albums looking for appropriate Mother’s Day photos, that I noticed the bed as a familiar constant throughout my formative years.
What would begin under the guise of breakfast for a special occasion would quickly end-up with our nuclear family of four on, or in the bed.
As an added bonus, the brass bed frame doubled as an impromptu jungle gym for my sister, and the hollow tubes a secret safety deposit for cash and jewelry. My sister describes the bed as “possessing some sort of magical powers.” I don’t think she was that far off.
But I digress. This post is supposed to be a (belated) Mother’s Day post for my Mom. “Mom,” “Mommy,” “Maaaaahhhhhh (teenage years!) ,”and rarely, for effect (or affect), “Mo-ther.”
Growing up my sister and I told our Mom she was the Bestest Mommy in the whole wide world. Not sure how it began, though I suspect my sister used it thinking it was a real word and it stuck.
I also believed – and still do – I had the prettiest, most glamorous Mom around. Very Sophia Loren don’t you think (of course she doesn’t think so!)? I loved watching her get ready to go out with my Dad on the rare occasions they left us at home with a sitter.
Other Moms work comfortable shoes and khaki’s but I don’t have a single memory of my Mom wearing anything other than a skirt or dress with heels. Her friends joked that she must wear heels to bed! And I’m dead serious when I tell you she didn’t wear her first pair of jeans until the mid 1990s.
She came to this country in her late twenties from the Middle East, with English as her third (fourth?) language. Not knowing the customs she raised a family first in the Mid-West and then the South. No easy task.
I was born when my parents lived in student housing while my dad worked on his PhD. Being the first-born I had the distinct pleasure of making her a Mom. Even now, when it’s my Birthday she’ll call me with “real-time” updates:
“Right now, X years ago, your Daddy and I were driving to UCLA hospital….”
“Right now, X years ago I was in my 10th hour of labor (yikes!)…”
When I was born she thought I was mad at her. Apparently my journey had been an arduous one and left me rather battle worn. She claims I gave her a dirty look indicating I was not pleased (or as she was convinced, that I didn’t love her!).
I was an active child. One might even say i was overactive, or hyper. According to my Mom, it began in eutero with incessant late night performances of River Dance with her rib cage as the dance floor.
We moved to Minnesota when I was four or five years of age. That’s where my sister was born (I requested her, but that’s another story) and where I spent my formative years. It was a town with a welcome sign that actually read “cows, colleges and contentment.”
Unlike most GenXers my sister and I were not latchkey kids (though it turns out my sister had a secret hankering to be!). In retrospect we were surprisingly “Leave it to Beaver.”
Dad brought home the “bacon” and Mom”fried it up” (aka managed the money!). I feel fortunate to have had my Mom at home growing up. It’s a luxury most in my generation cannot afford if they wanted it.
Looking at those photos of breakfasts in the brass bed, I wonder what we were thinking. If I were to take a guess I’d say I was most likely focused on getting the prime spot in the bed and/or eating some of my Mom’s celebratory croissant (I distinctly recall when she went on her cottage cheese and cantaloupe phase – blech, no fun!).
Thanks to my Mom, my sister and I experienced a childhood blissfully unaware of the heartbreak and suffering that awaited us in the real world. We lived in a safe and warm cocoon where nothing bad could possible happen. A very, very large brass bed. One might even describe it as…magical?
Sometimes when I’m at home with my parents and we’re hanging out in the living room (preferably in front of a roaring fire with an open bottle of wine – thanks Dad!), I put my head on my Mom’s tummy. And I not-so-jokingly ask if I can go back in please.
Sadly it’s not to be. But I can climb the stairs to the guest room (“my” room) and crawl into that queen size brass bed, now slightly dented and scratched. And as I drift off to sleep I tell myself I won’t forget to check the frame for forgotten jewels in the morning…
Love you Mommy, you are still the BESTEST
xoxo, Your Girls