Daddy's Coming Honey!



Don’t Read Until Mother’s Day



Last week I praised my dad as I reflected on how his fatherhood will inevitably influence me. Lest you think my mother was not involved in my upbringing merely because I did not mention her, I will balance the equation today.


My dad rebuked me for what I did last week, arguing instead that my mother did all the work, reminding me of the words of Michael Chabon:


“I don’t know what a woman needs to do to impel a perfect stranger to inform her in the grocery store that she is a really good mom.  Perhaps perform an emergency tracheotomy with a Bic pen on her eldest child while simultaneously nursing her infant and buying two weeks’ worth of healthy but appealing breaktime snacks for the entire cast of Lion King, Jr. In a grocery store, no mother is good or bad; she is just a mother, shopping for her family. If she wipes her kid’s nose or tear-stained cheeks, if she holds her kid tight, entertains her kid’s nonsensical claims, buys her kid the organic non-GMO whole-grain version of Honey Nut Cheerios, it adds no useful data to our assessment of her. Such an act is statistically insignificant. Good mothering is not measurable in a discrete instant, in an hour spent rubbing a baby’s gassy belly, in the braiding of a tangled mass of morning hair. Good mothering is a long-term pattern, a lifelong trend of behaviors most of which go unobserved at the time by anyone, least of all the mother herself. We do not judge mothers by snapshots but by years of images painstakingly accumulated from the orbiting satellite of memory. Once a year, maybe, and on certain fatal birthdays, and at our weddings or her funeral, we might collate all the available data, analyze it, and offer our irrefutable judgment: good mother.”



Really, when was the last time you saw a mother in the store and called her “good” because she was juggling her children? Or, let’s take her out of that “stereotypical” image (I have some feminist friends) and ask, when was the last time you praised a mother because she worked a job to help her husband out like the woman of the book of Proverbs works?

And so because I may be incapacitated on May 13 because I’m rocking and sushing a baby, I write this in advance, and Mom, if you’re reading this, you have to stop here and wait until then.

It was you, Mom, who pushed me out. I wasn’t there, but I deduced that from what I know about medicine. And I have this gut feeling.

My mother also did most of the maintenance on this child, changing diapers, bathing me. It usually ends up being the mother doing the dirty work of early childhood.

In early years I came down with “the croop” a few times. I’d wake up with a froggish cough, breathing like a wet sponge was stuffed in my lungs. My mother, at maybe three in the morning, would run the shower on hot, lay down a towel in the corner and have me sit on it while the called the doctor, breathing in the steam in the fetal position. Like a baby. It was like a secret between me and mom that I got to visit my own personal spa. Then she took me to the doctor. All this before the sun rose, thus she lost her sleep these nights.

When Luke and I were little, but after I was old enough to climb trees, we were at a neighborhood picnic at Beverly Heights park. I climbed up in a tree, jumped down, laid down flat on the ground, and told my brother to fetch my mom. She came running over with speed, focus, and concern that ruined my horribly impractical joke. I jumped up and scared her, but immediately saw what I had done to her nerves. Mom, sorry about that. I don’t think I doubted before that day how much you cared about your boys, but if there had been it was removed at that point and never questioned again.

You’d think my dad was always the one who’s wrath I feared, but such was not always the case. One snowy day when I was about seven we went and grabbed our sleds and ran out to the car. On the way I yelled, “we’re gonna ride like Hell!” I had heard this uttered specifically in one of my favorite movies, Tremors (by the way, I failed to mention last week that my dad adopted the “Colley” method of family media sensorship: going through every wirty dord and recording over it so that foul language was replaced with static-ridden commercial segments, and sometimes he missed a word or two, including the phrase “ride like Hell”). My mother spanked me all her own, banned me from video games, and though she didn’t have the heart to keep me from sledding (the snow only fell so often), she let me have it in words even harsher than my own but not so foul. If I behaved the rest of the day, my father’s discipline needed not be applied. But if I remained a bad boy, even if I told my mom not to tell my dad, she would tell me that she wouldn’t mentioned my behavior unless he asked. When he arrived home she would show her frustration until it prompted him to ask. Sneaky mom. But she knew what was best for me.

My mother would quiz us on our “Bible Bowl” questions, and offer us candy for getting right answers. She stopped doing that when I went to college. It might’ve helped my grades. But she still, to this day, makes Easter baskets for me and Luke. Peeps.

Last time I mentioned my dad driving me to Freed after my surgery. I have to brag on mom even going the extra mile for my brother. When he went lame from a sporting accident, she drove down with him and became his caretaker for about a week, maybe two. She took time off from work to help him get in and out of bed. Like I said, supermom.

Last year, for my birthday, my mom presented me with a bound book, a multi-genre portfolio, of writings I had done since I was little. Most of them school assignments, several of them items I had written in my spare time, she collected these over the years. No wonder I could not find some of them (the 20,000 word spy novel I wrote in 7th grade I deleted in high school after I saw how horrible it was). What it also brought to me was the memories of all those times she had read what I had written, helped me with my grammar and spelling, told me I was good at what I did. She nurtured my creativity through the years, whether it was throwing together my elaborately-themed birthday parties (Peter Pan, Nickelodeon, movie theater night), helping me put together my talent show routines, encouraging me to participate in writing contests (in which I didn’t understand the intended audience), take voice and piano lessons (neither of which I excelled at), take after-school drama classes (which I excelled at enough to continue), or have me do impersonations for friends and family.

Also, while I get a share of goofiness from my dad, I earned my mother’s smirk. And while I’m good at keeping a poker face in the midst of a practical joke, I can’t do it if my mom smiles at me. Nobody can sneak anything by her for long. She’s the subtler humorist.

My mother is a coffee fiend, and she loves to stay up late. It took me a while to figure out why. I think my brother and I drove her to it. In our later years, Luke and I would perpetually stay up late on non-school nights. Still do. Because a mother’s worry is never done, no matter how old her boys are, she would habitually wake up and approach the top of the basement steps, asking us what we were still doing up. We drove her to it. Now she still stays up so she can take over the night watch, even when her boys aren’t there. See, mom, if it wasn’t for us, you would have never grown to love coffee quite this much. You’re welcome.

Must I also go into detail about every meal she prepared, every tear she wiped, every butt she wiped, every outfit she picked out, every outfit she washed, every ride she gave us to school and lessons, every mess she cleaned? The internet with all its hyperchips of storage space has not room for them. Much of this mother’s work is unsung and behind the scenes, and while it goes as a default world of continual tasks that comes with the territory, it is yet still heroic in its indication of dedication. Though these be duties, they are not mere duties. In this modern age, many women could shirk them, or do them in spite of their home life or their husband or their very children. Merely because it is the way things ought out to be that we bring up children with all the work included does not mean we should take these sacrifices of our parents for granted. Though we do, do we not?

I just want you to picture what it would have been like to raise me and Luke. And I want you to picture what that woman should look like now. Then picture my mom. I think she turned out alright. She looks great, she’s still got her wit, and she still runs a house with a wild dog in it. So I think about how my son will turn out and I think “what’s there to worry?”

They say that men go after women who will have the same mommy skills as their own mothers. We’ll see. There are qualities I see in my own mother I see in her; There are qualities I see in her mother I see in her; There are qualities I see in her herself especially that are hers. But as much as I could go on about—have gone on about the parenting I have observed and am observing, and how I imagine my own fatherhood will be, it’s the motherhood of my wife I am so interested in, because, let’s hand it to them, fellas, these women are superior creatures.

So here’s to moms everywhere. Because if pushing that baby out isn’t enough, they usually end up doing most of the parenting anyway, and we often write it off as merely a woman doing a thing women do. Why wait ’til Mother’s Day? I’m celebrating the mothers today.

I’m too lazy go get old pictures of my mom mothering and scan them, so I grabbed them from Facebook. This is just to show you that the woman who raised me and Luke still looks great, whereas you’d think after all those years she’d look like some withered old crone from all the trouble. Go momma go!


My mother before she fled Iran and married my dad.


My mother, biking and staying fit.


My mother, doing masonry to feed the family.


My mother, dressed in her patriotic best.

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Comments

  1. * Diane Tucker says:

    Another tearful, touching, life tribute to your mom. As a mom myself, it is completely humbling to see your children come “full circle” and know how much their parents have done for you and how much they appreciate it all. Your mom is so deserving of this tribute. You have honored her well. Happy Parenting! You have learned so much from your parents and you should “breeze” through this very well.
    You deserve this recognition, Cha! Try not to cry…..but I know you will…….this is just what we do……..love you!

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 5 months ago
  2. * Cindy Colley says:

    I have never, ever, read your blog before and, well…it was just humbling. a shout-out to colley censorship in my very first read. When I get angry I just emit static.

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 4 months ago


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