On Behalf of Willful Children Everywhere
Today,I have the absolute pleasure of having one of my all time favorite writers, Heidi David of Madame Paradox , guest post at The TRUTH about Motherhood. She is an amazing writer and person, with a big heart and the intellect to match.
“Heidi David is a writer and freelance producer. She is the author of an as yet unpublished work of dark commercial fiction, THE FLYING JEWEL; a tale of a traveling circus where the price of admission is one’s free will. Brought up in a pleasant yet dysfunctional suburb of New York, Heidi’s excessive exposure to musical theater at a young age as well as a lifetime of insomnia have contributed to her peculiar world view. Ms. David has been known to take an occasional tango class as well as repel down cliffs, thus defying the centuries old tradition of nice Jewish girls finding excuses to get out of gym class. When she’s not writing or producing, Heidi lives a gluten-free existence in her Manhattan apartment while pining for the bagels of her youth.”
Heidi is a writer’s blogger, meaning if you have a reverence for the written word you absolutely MUST give her blog a look. You won’t be sorry. Her words will take you to the four corners of the world, traveling space and time, she will make you laugh and cry. Heidi will take you to the brink of insanity and then rescue you from yourself. Her posts remind me of why I write. She expands my imagination and stimulates my brain, she can do the same for you. Heidi can also be found on Twitter.
Thank you so much Debi for inviting me to guest post. I must admit when I first sat down to write something I struggled with what topic to choose because I’m not a mother. But then I realized I know a lot about mothers. Funny enough, I happen to have one.
The kitchen of my youth was painted oh-so-cheery yellow with two walls of ridiculous wallpaper. To be more specific, imagine if the 1970’s went on a drunken bender and threw up all over the breakfast nook, this might come close to describing it. No doubt my mother would explain how fashionable that wallpaper was at the time. To which I would probably say something sarcastic like, “And if everyone told you to jump off a bridge wearing that wallpaper, would you?” For me, as a teenager, that yellow kitchen represented the color of conformity.
Mom was a remarkably creative child who studied concert piano in high school, as well as theater and opera in college. Do you remember those Judy Garland movies where she’d walk into a room with sheet music tucked under her arm, and suddenly, as if by magic, a piano player and a chorus of singing friends would appear? I imagine my mother’s youth was a little like that. I saw a picture of her once, right after she and my father married. She had on these big dangling earrings and was smoking a cigarette. I’ve seen many photos of her from the past, but none like that one. She looked kind of…ballsy. But in the fifties when you were the second-generation child of people who’d spent their lives trying to better themselves, you didn’t become an actress. You got married and had kids.
I am my mother’s youngest. By the time I entered the scene I saw her as a woman who wore makeup and panty hose to the grocery store, who smiled and said hello to strangers on the street, and who knew how to make a dandy Swedish meatball with grape jelly and Heinz chili sauce. Every now and then she’d try to sit down at the piano, growing teary eyed that she could no longer play or sing the way she once had.
My mother liked to have us spend weekends touring famous historical landmarks. We went to art exhibits, museums and lots of theater. She also read to me at night, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables, and The House at Pooh Corner to name a few. Her renditions left an indelible mark on my brain.
Now I could tell you for every beige blouse she owned, I wore a black one; that while she said hello to everyone, I stared at my feet and avoided eye contact; that she was the social butterfly meanwhile I kept my nose buried in a book. And those descriptions would be true, but not entirely. I was involved in theater and dance from elementary school through adulthood. At thirteen I even picked up a hammer and chisel and started carving in stone. And if you get me in the right social situation, I’m the friendliest shy person you’ve ever met. Also, I too am one hell of a hostess, Swedish meatballs not withstanding.
Recently I spent a month in Florida with my mother. I’m not going to sugar coat it by saying this was an easy experience. Everyone in my family has rather “vivid” personalities, and to make matters worse they were living with me, cranky writer accustomed to her solitude. So you can imagine the hijinks that ensued. Be that as it may, there were these moments with mom and me in the kitchen. I’d be chopping up my kale while she was whipping up one of her classic meals, and because we had to cook around each other in this small space it was almost a choreographed ballet of sorts (something else she exposed us to in my youth). Of course, she is still a neat freak with an unnatural attachment to Mr. Clean, and I am still a pack rat, who hates it when she takes my glass before I’m finished drinking. But I wouldn’t trade those moments in the kitchen with her for anything.
My blog has been a fascinating way for us to get to know each other again, possibly for the first time. For one thing, I think my mother believed I’d forgotten my childhood, for another, she didn’t know I could write, not really anyway. Often, I use stories from my childhood as analogies for the writing process. This has occasionally led to humor in my posts at my mother’s expense. I worry sometimes that she doesn’t know what I know, that all those cultural activities she brought into my life expanded my world in ways that inform every word I write, and every idea I have.
Several years ago I took up painting. Didn’t have a clue what I was doing, really. I just bought as many tubes of acrylics as I could afford and began putting paint on the canvas. And wouldn’t you know it, my favorite color of the bunch, the perfect foil for all the bolder more unusual shades? Naples yellow. Or as I might describe it, mom’s-kitchen-yellow.
I have come to realize my mother and I are nothing alike, yet completely similar. Perhaps that’s the way it is with all mothers and daughters? So on behalf of willful children every where let me say, we may not look like you, or sound like you, but trust me, we know the echo of your passions colors our world everyday, and we love you for it.