From My Kitchen Counter with Love this Mother’s Day

I don’t know how I would have survived the drama of elementary or high school without my mom. After skipping home from school, she would greet me with a smile, something warm from the oven, and the question, “How was school today?” I would plop down at the half moon counter my dad installed in our small kitchen and snatch a warm cookie, its chocolate chips still melting, and proceed to recount the trivial events of my young life. I always had a lot to say, as you can only imagine, but she would listen and give advice and encouragement.

As well as being one of the greatest cooks, my mom also sewed. She whipped up matching outfits for my sister, Patty, and me on her 1950’s Singer sewing machine. The acrid smell of ironed tissue and the sound of her sharp scissors slicing through pinned fabric filled our small apartment. The machine rumbled late into the night. I always stared in wonder at the results of her effort.

When I needed a dress for confirmation, I fell in love with the dress of my dreams in a department store, but the price of the purple mini with the long sleeves and square cuffs was well out of reach. No problem. My mom scrutinized the details and not only duplicated it, but improved on the design. I had become self-conscious in the 7th grade so I beamed at the compliments I received.

She continued to make our clothes all the way through college. Many times random people asked where I purchased my cool threads. No one could believe the jackets and pants had been made from Vogue patterns. The perfect topstitching always amazed me. Now that my mom is 83 and has glaucoma, her sewing machine is stored away. I kept the outfits she sewed for my children. I know she sacrificed a lot of time in creating them and taught us the value of time and money.

I learned so much from her words and yet there was a time saying nothing taught me a lesson. I had wanted to be in the school play when I was a junior in high school. I tried out with two other friends with a song and dance routine. I thought that would be enough to get in and skipped the dance tryout. Of course, I wasn’t even considered. Crushed and angry at myself for relying on an assumption, I came home from school feeling dejected. My mom talked me into working behind the scenes. My dad created the sets that year, so I signed up to do everyone’s makeup. It was a blast and after the final production on Sunday, I went with everyone to the Sweeneys for a closing night party.

So that’s what ‘tallboy’ beer is! The drinking age in Wisconsin was 18-years-old at the time. Need I say more? The next day I woke up with the worst hangover of my life and my mom who knew everything, said nothing. She informed me that even though “the other kids” were staying home from school, I had to go. It was the worst punishment ever! I didn’t drink alcohol again for a really long time.

When I was pregnant with my second child, Courtney, I started bleeding out because of a praevia – my placenta was attached to my cervix. Not good. I was only in my 7th month, so after running to the hospital with my husband and 2-year-old son Kelly in tow, the doctor informed me that it would be my new home for the next two months!

Mom to the rescue. She had a full-time job and dropped everything to watch Kelly while I was on complete bed rest. I still call Courtney “my fingernail baby” since she hung until her due date! I avoided giving birth to a preemie by living stress-free knowing that my mom was there to take care of everything.

She is the glue that holds all of us together. This Christmas was the first time my parents weren’t able to fly out because of my dad’s heart condition. Instead, my mom suggested that we all come after the holidays. For the first time in 20 years the whole family met in Wisconsin.  

I have learned through her example of determination and perseverance. My mom grew up in a household where her brothers were given all the opportunities while she and her sister were treated very differently. She didn’t have a driver’s license until my dad taught her at the age of 32! She wanted a better life for us and believed early on that women should be treated as equals.

My mom has always been my best friend. When I phone her in Wisconsin, she’s always available to hear my continuing saga. She is supportive of my latest endeavors although horrified by some of my skiing adventures!

When my college-aged children unwind at my kitchen counter, I gaze back at the memory of one from a different time in my life and smile.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

What are your fond memories?

All photos by Susie Lindau

103 thoughts on “From My Kitchen Counter with Love this Mother’s Day

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  1. Wonderful Mother’s Day tribute, Susie, I loved reading this! Unfortunately I didn’t have that kind of childhood, but I’m so happy for you and for everyone who did. Awesome! ~ Julie xoxox


    1. I am sorry Julie. It seems like life was simple back then. Not like how my kids were raised with all the extra-curricular packed schedules…
      Thanks so much and have a great weekend!


  2. My mom was always (is, almost, even now) there for me and for my sis, and is for my Dad (kidney failure – dialysis).
    My memories are of being outside or playing or watching TV, but her voice and activities were almost always in the background. When I was not in school, I spent a great deal of time shopping with her. Back then, we could walk by ourselves around the store if we behaved. I had so much fun and felt so safe!


    1. Safe is right. And somehow if something went terribly wrong, I could tell her and instantly felt a tremendous weight lift from my shoulders. Thanks so much! And thanks again for the award!


  3. What a wonderful tribute to you mom, Susie!

    My mom grew up in a household where the one son ruled! I think of her as the “forgotten” child, because she was crammed between a sister older by only a year or so and the long awaited son. Then, Nana miscarried twice before having two new baby girls to dote on.

    Mom wanted to be a nurse, but–in her strict, PA Dutch household–women didn’t go on to higher education. So, she got married, had 4 girls in as many years and another one four years later. I was the second–born 11 months after my older sister and 1 year, two months before my next sister.

    I know that’s Mom insisted we could be anything we wanted to be and dreamed that all of us would go to college.

    She made our clothes for us until we were old enough to sew our own.

    The day she stopped making my clothes–leaving me to use as few pins as necessary to attach pattern to material, and snip off the notches because they took too much time–is the day I stopped getting compliments on my lovely and well-crafted clothes.

    Happy Mother’s Day, Susie’s mom!


  4. What a lovely tribute, Susie. You are very lucky to have her as your mom. How great that she made your clothes all that time. My mom knits, she can make anything. So all through grade school we wore her sweaters. She still knits blankets for my kids today and she’s 78 years old. Our moms are incredible, aren’t they? Such good role models for us. Happy Mother’s day to your mom and you!


    1. They are incredible and we are lucky to have them. 🙂 They sacrifice so much time. That is great that your mom is still knitting. 🙂 I love your stories about her!
      Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours!


  5. What a warm and wonderful tribute to your Mom, susie. Enjoy and savor this time. My mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. it is not easy to watch her decline, but I try to be as present for her as possible.

    happy mother’s day, ladies.


    1. Thanks Louise! I am sorry about your mom. You should give her a tablespoon of coconut oil every day. It is amazing what it does for the brain. I started putting it on my toast a couple of weeks ago and notice difference! All of my friends are substituting for butter.
      Have a wonderful weekend as well Louise!


  6. What a nice post, Susie. I think your Mom is the lucky one too. I can see from her photo, where you get your ‘zest’.

    the acrid smell of ironed tissue… that brought back a lot of memories… Happy Mother’s Day!


    1. Thanks so much Ted! You are so nice to say that! She still has a lot of zest!
      Remember how everyone sewed? Now it is cheaper to buy clothes, but I still make all of my curtains.
      Thanks again and have a great weekend!


  7. Gorgeous post, Susie. I’m not surprised that you have a wonderful mom. 🙂 I’m super close to mine, too. Some of my favorite memories include cooking (messily & deliciously without recipes), bargain-hunting and “mental health days” home from school.


    1. Mental health days! I never got one of those as you can imagine from my story. Hahaha! Your mom sounds awesome too! We also have shared a lot of bargain hunts together. One of them ended up saving my life. A story for a blog perhaps….
      Thanks August and have a great weekend!


  8. Lovely post, Susie and your mum sounds so similar to mine with the sewing and baking and treated differently in the family, wow. I wonder if they did all that for us because they were treated differently. Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday!


    1. I think they did! They grew up in such a male-dominated society. I still run into sexism, (I did this week!), but at a much smaller scale.
      Thanks so much Catherine!


  9. Beautiful post, Susie. You are very lucky. I also have a great relationship with my mother, but many don’t. We should cherish how lucky we are. She is a fabulous woman and you are very blessed. You paid her an amazing tribute today.

    Btw, I passed the Sunshine award your way. ;D


    1. Aww! Thanks Debra!
      We are lucky. I really took our relationship for granted until I went to college and realized I was in the vast minority. I think a support system is so valuable and we are lucky to have started out with a great one!
      Happy Mother’s Day to you!


  10. Beautiful post – thanks for sharing! The one thing that comes right to mind is she was always there to pick me up and kiss my boo boos. Have a Great Weekend & Happy Mother’s Day!


    1. That is so true! I used to say, “it hurts when I touch it.” and she would respond, “Well stop touching it then!” Too funny!
      Thanks so much Renee! Have a fab weekend too!


  11. How nice:) Okay, my mom was always there, even with five kids…what a handful. Brownies were our treat, she would make frosting with coconut if she wanted something for herself cause we didn’t like coconut. lol. She worked too hard though and didn’t make us clean, she did it. The German in her I think. She deserves the best and time for herself, but once a mom, always a mom. I feel for her, life has been too stressful in her older years and she doesn’t deserve it at all. Now she goes and plays the penny slots in Windsor with her lady friends, they take a greyhound and escape the whole day….she loves it.


  12. Okay, I’m all teary-eyed now. Really i am. Only because I still miss my mother after 4 (really hard) years. She sounds a lot like your mom. She was the youngest, by a lot of years, of 7 kids and grew up on a farm in Minnesota. Certain activities were off-limits for her because she was a girl.

    I remember the “how was school today?” question like it was yesterday and she also sewed a lot of my clothes. Of course, mostly I had to wear my brother’s hand-me-downs, but eventually she wanted people to know I was a girl so she started sewing me dresses. I dont’ know why she didn’t just buy dresses for my brother, which I could wear the following year, but she never did. Funny how that works. I guess it was a good thing she had the boy first cuz it wouldn’t have worked the other way around.

    But I digress. My mom taught me to sew and cook at a very early age, both skills I still practice today.

    What a loving wonderful tribute to your mother. Happy mother’s day, Susie!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  13. Oh Susie what a wonderful write up…how blessed are we to have such generous loving souls as our mothers…arent they the best 🙂
    I so loved this memoir and tribute… nothing else to say just a big hug to my wonderful friend..


  14. Great post, sounds like you have one awesome mama. I admit that my relationship w/ my mom isn’t always perfect but I’ve got some great memories w/ my mom of just random things, but sometimes that’s what makes them so great.


    1. Thank you so much! She really has been there for me.
      Have a great weekend now even though it was a crushing blow to realize you weren’t the machine whisperer! 🙂


  15. This was such a wonderful homage to Mom (and I LOVE that she made you go to school with your first hangover, ha!)! My mom used to make her own clothes, and I was always in awe of that, too! I think she was the only mom I knew growing up that would make my Halloween costumes. And they rocked!

    I love that when my mom and I get together, there’s usually some point at which we’re laughing so hard we can’t speak, and have tears streaming down our faces. 🙂


    1. She sounds wonderful! The witch costume my mom made me, she passed on to my daughter who wore it to shreds before Halloween!
      It is so great that you appreciate your relationship! Have a great weekend!
      Thank you Jules!


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