A Mother's Obsession
As you all know, Mother's Day is this Sunday.
In honor of this special time of celebrating Mom -- albeit what some consider another contrived Hallmark holiday for the sake of lining the coffers of retailers (especially greeting card companies, florists, candy shops, and spas) -- my personal thoughts drift toward an homage to my own dear departed mother's lifelong obsession.
Yes, Dear Hearts, it goes without saying that my father, my siblings, and I were number one in her heart.
But we are not the obsession to which I refer.
Next to her family, my mother's fascination with our hair traveled well beyond the typical parental concern over simple cleanliness and grooming.
I cannot tell you how many childhood Saturday nights my sister and I sat through the ritual of setting our hair (in brush rollers no less) so our crowning glory would be perfect for church the next day. Heaven help us if we removed said rollers in the morning and brushed it out on our own!
Nay! Mom had to be the one to style our mops as well.
My sister's hair was thick, long, blonde, and could be shaped or braided into all sorts of lovely creations. Not only that, it would actually stay that way for most of the day!
Not mine. It was a disastrous pile of a dishwater brown tangled mess; and since I was much more tomboyish as a youngster, it usually resembled that of a bird nest fail.
But did Mom give up?
You guessed it. She turned my unruly mane into her personal pet project. She permed, cut, brushed (more like yanked), curled, braided, you-name-it, my crazy 'do. However, even if she managed to tame it into some semblance of a passable coiffure, I was doing well if it survived the ten minute drive to church.
My brothers did not escape her enthusiasm. Although they were not required to sit through a lengthy beauty parlor session, she would not stand for anything less than a razor sharp side part and every hair in place. They usually sported a buzz cut in summer and Mom was a steadfast overlord of the clipper action as my Dad mowed away at their little noggins.
Dad was always willing to help with the Sunday morning preparations as this was the only day of the week all six of us had to be ready to get out the door at the same time.
However, I recall one Sunday when he assured my Mom he could comb the boys' hair and encouraged her to take a minute to spend time on herself. Reluctantly deciding to trust Dad with the proceedings, she disappeared into their bedroom.
Unfortunately, my brothers' hair parts did not pass muster. While Dad finished shaving, she conducted a " 'do" - over.
And then there was the time when she was in the hospital, having given birth to my youngest brother. She wanted Dad to bring the three of us to visit. In an effort to make us presentable, my father decided to braid my sister's hair (he had let it go all week, mind you -- leaving my sister and me to our own devices, daily brushing ourselves. You can imagine the horror). Although Mom certainly appreciated Dad's valiant effort, she promptly disassembled my sister's very crooked plaits and deftly re-constructed the coif in a matter of seconds right from her hospital bed.
I have been playing violin since I was nine, and have been a symphony violinist since I was a high school sophomore. I considered my childhood violin teacher of ten years to have been my "musical mother" (we all have many, don't we?).
My mom was quite instrumental [pun intended] in my success as a musician as well. Extremely supportive, my parents attended every concert when I was growing up. And as an adult, if I was playing in a concert / production in their area, they made every effort to attend.
I recall one symphony concert in particular as a grown woman of thirty-eight years where I had worked extremely hard to master the music. I was nervous and excited all at the same time. Fortunately, the performance went well and as luck would have it, my parents happened to be in the audience, front and center.
Afterward, my mother rushed backstage, gathered me into her arms, and with tears in her eyes, exclaimed, "Honey! . . ."
I fairly beamed with pleasure at her response. I always knew my mom was proud of all of her children and their accomplishments. She never held back praise or correction. But knowing how hard I worked on this particular set pleased me to know she recognized it.
Finally releasing me after a very tight long hug, she held my face in her hands and proclaimed,
" . . . your hair! " Wait. What?!!
"I couldn't take my eyes off of it!" she continued.
Dear Hearts, I know what you must be thinking. No, my mom wasn't a control freak (no more than any other mother who repeats daily reminders to her children to brush teeth, do homework, clean your room, etc.).
She simply was that obsessed with hair!
I don't know, perhaps she was a hairdresser in a former life or something. But at that moment, I could only laugh.
Heaven knew my wonderful late violin teacher, Edith Hubach, was turning over in her grave at that very moment. After all, anything I have ever done well, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants -- many of whom are my "other mothers". But I found Mom's response to be downright hilarious.
And her obsession never dissipated.
My brother's first child was born with stunning copper red locks -- the same color as my aunt's (Mom's sister). I'm pretty sure my niece's mane put Mom in a permanent trance. When my youngest daughter took a pair of scissors to her own five year old curls and chopped off a chunk at the scalp, and I decided to cut the entire head of tresses to match the length, Mom was appalled at my solution (as you may have guessed by now, she loved long hair).
Fortunately, Mom's fascination with our hair was less in the forefront after we moved out of the house. Oh, she was still crazy about it, but not as "hands on" and vocal. And thankfully, Dear Hearts, it could have been worse. She could have been obsessed with many more things in our lives.
I'm just Grateful her number one obsession was to love my dad and us.
Happy Heavenly Mother's Day, Mom!! (Angels: hide the scissors!)