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. She really is. She taught us kids to be inclusive and treat others the way we want to be treated. That positive way of looking at things goes a long way!
      Thank you so much!

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  1. Awww, such a lovely tribute to your mom. I think you look like her too! My mom also sews still, and she has made me skirts and all sorts of stuff, even Halloween costumes, LOL!

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  2. Love this! Your mom totally rocks and how cute is she in that picture? I’m smitten with your mama.

    I always love reading cool stories like this about mom/daughter relationships!

    Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mom.

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  3. Hi,
    What a lovely post for Mother’s Day, your Mum sounds like a wonderful person, it is great when we have a good relationship with our Mums.
    Love your photos as well, it great when you can look back on photos and they can bring back some memories of those moments.

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    1. Thanks Mags! She is!
      I am so glad that she gave these photos to me. My parents have hundreds on slides that I need to scan one of these days..
      Have a great weekend!

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    1. I think we in turn become the glue for our own families. Who knows, someday your son may have 6 kids and they will turn to you to bring the family together! I bet he will laugh at the idea of 6!!! Hahaha! Have a Happy Mother’s Day Renee!
      Thank you so much!

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      1. I hope I am glue.

        Honestly, Susie. I say this with my fingers crossed over my heart.

        Because there was a lot of bad stuff that created more of a skunk repellent thing in my history. I don’t want to repeat that. I work so hard to fight against that. For real. And six grandbabies would rock!

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  4. Hmmm so things weren’t different for Moms of yestergeneration here and half way across the globe! My Mom’s brothers were preferred over her and her sisters at her home. She still managed to complete college (mainly on state supported free education) and became a teacher. Her career didn’t last long, she had to quit her job to look after me ( eventhough she had better job than my Dad) She gave private tuitions from home. After my sister was born she became full time stay home Mom. And yes we found her in kitchen most of the time.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you!

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    1. Thanks Yatin! We have all lived in a very male-dominated world and that is finally slowly changing. Your mom sounds very similar to mine and wonderful too. We are lucky to have them.I hope your wife has a wonderful Mother’s Day tomorrow!

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    1. Thanks Cayman.
      I know! The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is hardly romantic! 🙂
      I am playing it right now. You are such a great guy to watch this with your girlfriend. I couldn’t have gotten through it!

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  5. What wonderful memories of your mom.. mine also grew up in similar circumstances and it’s with pride we see how they gave us, their daughters, so much more confidence and opportunities than they were offered. I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!! xo Smidge

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  6. What a wonderful mother! I, too, remember the smells of ironing. I’m thinking I need to have my daughter iron sheets today to pass on that tradition. Think she’ll love me for it?

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    1. Oh I am sure she will! Hahaha! Do you remember when our moms ironed everything? We are lucky to have had children when the wrinkled look was in style! 🙂
      Thanks Piper!

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  7. What’s wonderful tribute – we all owe a great debt to our moms. They sacrificed much for us. Great post! Happy Mother’s Day to you. Enjoy your week.

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    1. Thanks, Schwister!
      She’s in town along with my brother and read it last night. I think it brought back some fond memories. It’s a reblog from four years ago! Have a great week!

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  8. My mother is a trooper at 73! She lives by herself and is an independent contractor and a landlord. She has always loved us dearly and supported us through thick and thin. Her 5 grandchildren, ranging from 4 mo-12 years old, are her hearts delight! Mine is 10 and I remember when he was a toddler sitting in his room watching him play. I will always remember that chubby baby!!!

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