Monday, December 05, 2005

Maxims of My Mother

"Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, so mothers be good to your daughters, too.."-- John Mayer
Mothers. Mmmmm. And daughters. Now HERE's a juicy topic:

Yesterday, I finally managed to pick up the phone and touch base with my oldest girlfriend who is about to deliver our--I mean her-- first child, a girl!!, sometime within the next few weeks. I'm excited, and she's petrified, but she will no doubt be a brilliant mother. She's going to be one of those mothers who teaches her girl child about good manners and Jesus and cooking and sewing and not making enemies in school.

After our conversation, I started thinking about it. First, let's just get it out there: I can't wait to have a daughter one day, too. Definitely. The world needs strong, smart girls, and my daughter?--Oh, she's going to be a fireball. Second, what womanly wisdom will I impress upon my little fireball (in pink mink)? Naturally, I assume that what I transmit to my daughter will be what was passed to me from my own mother. Considering this, I suddenly realized that--oh no!--my yet-to-be-born mini-me is not going to know a single thing about sewing or cooking or Jesus. The question then became, what profound wisdom have I inherited from my mother, and what will I pass on?

My mother is a sassy sort of lady. She's Italian. And she's beautiful. And as a daughter of a woman who caught the attention of married men in supermarkets, even with two children in tow, I learned at an early age that I was following in the wake of a giant.

My mother didn't really cook. And she didn't particularly care to clean. For obvious reasons, this is why she married a chef, and also why the cleaning lady came on Tuesdays. She liked parties. She used big words like "agnostic". And she liked to decorate. In fact, she did pull out the sewing machine a few times: to make curtains and quilts. One time she made me a black velvet skirt for the holidays. It was hot. She said so herself.

Yes, my mother used the word "hot" before it was cool. She particularly liked to shop. She also had a perceptibly strong sense of smell. Not only could she tell me before I entered the room that I needed to bathe, but she could smell a good sale from a mile away.

Speaking of shopping, another one of her favorite words was "gorgeous". Because I heard this word all of the time, "gorgeous" became one of my first words. I heard it every day. In fact, I thought it was my name. She used to shop all over Boston and dress me up in everything from mini-fur coats to darling sailor girl outfits. She would then pull out the camera and have me pose for pictures in my new attire. "Say gorgeous!", she said before the camera snapped.

It's little wonder why, by the time I was in the first grade, I was completely convinced that I was, in fact, the prettiest girl in the world...

Thus, maybe it wasn't Jesus or good housekeeping, but it certainly was my mother's ethereal sense of physical beauty that was passed to me. And, as all Italian women do, she had a way of speaking in dark maxims, which filled me with a profound sense of consequence if I didn't do as she advised. After giving it some thought, here is a small sampling of the things my mother believed it was truly important for me know:

Nine Maxims of my Mother, by Namaste.

1. If you look good, you feel good. A lady never leaves the house without mascara. Moreover, if you leave the house without mascara, you will not make any friends.

2. If you do not wash your face and moisturize every night, it will fall off (at some undisclosed moment) in the future. You will be covered in spots, and no one will like you.

3. Pretty girls with personality always have enemies. If you have no enemies, it means you have no personality, and, worst of all, you are not pretty.

4. Earrings make an outfit. If you are not wearing earrings, you are naked.

5. While it is a shame that some people cannot help being born ugly, it is an absolute crime to be extremely fat. Ugly people can't help it, but fat people?-- Fat people can eat less and give their food to skinny people who need more.

6. If you need something done, like, for example, heavy lifting that you don't feel like doing it yourself, always ask a man to do it for you. Men like feeling as though they are useful. Don't forget to commend them for their impressiveness.

7. No matter how bad you feel, you must always carry yourself like a "gazelle". If you shame your mother by clomping about loudly and walking with bad posture, be assured you will grow hair on your chin and be made fun of by your friends.

8. If you have nice hair, don't ever cut it too short. Men don't like women that look like men. If they do like this, there is something wrong with them, and you need stay away from this. Real men love hair. Hair looks good on a pillow.

9. There is nothing deceitful about wearing a padded bra that looks "natural". V-neck shirts show off cleavage. Always wear a V-neck shirt with a padded bra to show off more cleavage (because men like cleavage as much as they like nice hair). Moreover, a good padded bra is like mascara. A woman is never caught in public without wearing either.

The list goes on, of course, but these are the better highlights. I must go now and apply my mascara before it gets too late in the day. God forbid, I start growing hair from my chin...

Love you, Mom!


Lucy said...

This sounds like things I learned from my Mamaw. She never went out in public without being impeccably groomed. I have a picture of her taken sometime in the late 40s at what appears to be a PTA meeting - she is wearing all white, with white shoes and a white hat, and stands out like a tropical flower in a sea of drab housewives.

Great post.

playfulinnc said...

My mother said many of the same things...only gazelle is hard for a family who's on the short side! that's a different thing. My mother wants my hair long, but mine looks so good short! Girlishly short, but she goes nuts when I have it longer than chin length.

Great post! I've missed reading the last few days with no internet!

ry said...

your mom is a smart woman
her advice is very familiar to me
(well, x for the mascara bit!)

Heather B. said...

your mom and my mom should have a playdate.
though there might be some difficulty when it comes to the part about the short hair vs. long hair. but other then that, I suspect they'd share nicely.