Most kids view their parents are their providers and caregivers, and often don’t have an objective perspective of their moms and dads. When I was small, my parents were just that – my parents. I didn’t really put much thought into who they were or what they looked like.
As a preschooler I was quite attached to my mother, who was a part-time piano teacher, a minister’s wife, and a stay-at-home mom. I did know she was smart, and organized, even if I didn’t know what those things meant. All four children were always clean and crisply pressed, and we were all literate well before entering formal school.
The revelation came in grade three. In 1970 we had moved, my mother started university (to get her B.Ed) and I started school. Three years later we were entrenched in these very busy lives. I was the ‘scatter-brained” creative one; always singing, day-dreaming and losing things. Typical of that, I arrived at school one day to realize I’d forgotten my lunch. The teacher had the office call home and I was assured someone would bring it to me.
I can still see this memory in my mind’s eye. I was standing against the far wall in gym class when it happened. My mother – my very busy, never home mother – swept into the gym in a brown-sugar fur. Everyone stopped and gaped. I raced over, so excited to see her, and she hugged me and told me my lunch had been delivered. Just like that she was gone again, but the activity in the gym remained still. I felt extremely self-conscious and did not understand why everyone was just standing and staring. I walked back to my place in line, where the girl standing next to me stage-whispered, “Was that your MOM? She’s bee-OOO-tee-FULLL!!”
The stunning revelation that I had a beautiful mother swept over me in a rush. Of course she was beautiful. How had I missed this?
Naturally I became (and still am) proud of my mother’s attractiveness. I also came to the realization that day that my parents were people – that they existed apart from me, an important step in self-actualization and growing up.
My mother is still beautiful, in case you wonder. At 77, poor eyesight may mean her makeup goes on a little heavier, and Alzheimer’s has stolen some of the sharpness in her gaze, but she is indeed an amazingly attractive woman. I’m so glad I had that revelation early and could appreciate that, and her many other qualities, from that day forward.