It’s pretty evident that there are quite a few things our mother was not good at. Mother was not Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker. She was not very well acquainted with Mrs. Mop or Mr. Clean. She didn’t have one of those charming personalities that drew people to her. No, her talents were a little bit different.
As a teenager, Mother was asked to be in the Roller Derby. While I did not know her when she was demonstrating her wonderful skating abilities, I can testify to Mother’s aggressive, bare-knuckles approach…just the type of attitude you need for the Roller Derby. Both my sister and I can quite easily picture Mother skating up next to someone and pushing them aside as she skates by. Mother would terrorize the other team’s skaters and would high-five all her teammates as she sped around the track. It’s not much of a reach at all.
Unfortunately, Mother had to give up her roller derby dreams when her dad refused to allow her to sign up. Maybe he hoped she would out-grow her aggressive ways. It would have been a foolish hope, but you can’t blame a parent for hoping.
As a child, I loved to go swimming with Mother. She was an amazing swimmer and could do all sorts of acrobatic feats like turning a somersault in the water. She was constantly saying, “Watch me,” as she showed off her fancy aquatics moves. I do not know where she acquired these amazing, Esther Williams-like skills, but they were very impressive.
It was not until I had my own child that I realized it was the children who shouted “Watch me,” and the parents who clapped in amazement at their child’s swimming prowess. My mother simply had never received enough praise from her own parents and was now looking for it from her children.
Since Mother was fairly athletic, she wanted my sister and me to follow in her footsteps. We spent hours roller skating, but neither of us was Roller Derby material. Mother signed us up for swimming lessons which my sister Lindy was very successful with and me…not so much. We also took dancing, tumbling, and baton twirling; however, none of these activities were going to lead to our fame and fortune. Since you can’t give what you don’t have, my mother never encouraged us in anything we did. My sister and I finally learned to be our own cheerleaders. It is not a bad lesson to learn.
My sister Lindy and I have already detailed our mother’s attempts to gain fame and glory by making princess cakes, candles, and of course, liquor-laden fruitcakes. She loved giving her home-made gifts to her friends and mere acquaintances to hear their praise for her skills. Mother never seemed to realize that much of the praise was phony, the hollow thanks for a gift that was greatly disliked by the recipient.
Mother never learned to pat herself on the back. She needed a lot of encouragement and, unfortunately, my sister and I were too young to provide it.