It's strange to see your mother in a social setting. Your whole life, you grow up thinking that she's sort of separated from the rest of the world. She's your mom. So, naturally, she doesn't have friends, or go out, or make fun of people. She cooks your dinner with a meat, a vegetable, a starch. She helps you with your homework. She does laundry. She watches Jeopardy with your dad every night. That's what she does.
Obviously, that's a child's view of mother. Now, being 25, I know that her life isn't limited to the walls of the house I'll probably always refer to as home, no matter where I live. She works. She talks on the phone. She has drinks with her coworkers. But, still, in my mind, she's not a social creature. She's a motherly creature.
Saturday night, I drove with my mom over the Bear Mountain Bridge, crossed the Hudson and went all the way to Peekskill, NY to bid a fond farewell to one of the dentists my mom works with at West Point, whose time as an Officer in the Army is up. Obviously, she works in a dental clinic, a profession she reluctantly fell in love with at Nellis Air Force Base years ago when we lived in Las Vegas. She stuck with working on military installations because, well, she loves them. Twenty years with my father on Army posts cultivated a deep appreciation within her for them. So, for I don't know how many years now, she's worked at West Point, with a gang of soldiers and civilians. She loves her job, and her coworkers, and she'll miss the young dentist whose leaving. Which is why we took the hour long drive to say goodbye.
But, the thing of it is, she still seemed like someone's mom. But not just mine, in particular. She seemed like everyone's mom, nurturing and loving each and every one of her coworkers. And they all seem to love her back - Even the tough-talking dental assistant, the Jersey Girl of whose brazen honesty I'm downright jealous (Hi Marie!).
All of my life, people have referred to my mother as "Mom." Not by our last name, not by ma'am, not by some socially acceptable pleasantry. "Mom." And, in her social circle, that trend continues. "I call her Mama Dee," one tall woman told me this weekend. We stood side-by-side and watched my mom. I stirred my vodka-cranberry as she spoke. "You're her real daughter, I'm her work daughter." She chuckled and looked at my mom, then at me. And even some of them call her Dee, not mom, I knew was surrounded by her Work sons and daughters. My mother is just inherently mother-ish. Everything about her is motherly. Her sweet little accent (that I don't notice), her kind demeanor, the complete absence of a mean bone in her body, her inability to be angry with someone for long. Her high threshold for unjust treatment and her huge, forgiving heart put her forever in good graces with everyone. She's rarely mad, she always smiles. She's a good friend. She's thoughtful, she's caring. She'll listen, she'll advise if you want it, she gives good hugs. She's just so sweet. You can't not like my mom. She just embodies mom. She's just missing the apron and the hot apple pie.
And I looked around the room and saw a bar full of people who love my mom in their own way and I was touched that there was that much love in the room for her. And happy that she's surrounded, daily, by people who care for her so deeply. Or, at least, that's what they TOLD ME. They could've been lying because I'm her daughter, and of course they're going to say nice things about her to MY face. Maybe they talk crazy shit about her behind our backs. But I don't think that's the case. I think they all genuinely care for her.
And I think that's just wonderful.
But she's MINE, Bitches*.
*I mean that in the most affectionate way possible. You're welcome to claim her during business hours. She taught me to share.