Homage to my Mother

My mother, Super Matriarch and Shopping Muse

My mother, Super Matriarch and Shopping Muse

Mother’s Day is long past, but I need to take this opportunity to sing the praises of my mother, the Wonder Matriarch who magically transformed an otherwise hellish week into a surprisingly gratifying one. In order to understand the magnitude of her achievement, I must first sum up the aforementioned hellish week. Here goes:

Monday’s never been a favored day of the week, and my Monday upheld its rotten reputation. The main event in the Rotten Spectrum was yet another job rejection. (I technically hold three jobs plus a tutoring gig, but now that the substitute teaching pay has evaporated in the heat of summer and things have gone awry with the newspaper I wrote for, I earn a whopping $110/week. I hadn’t been overly concerned about my puny income—at least it was enough to cover the premium for our $10,000 deductible health insurance policy—until the necessity for new siding reared its ugly head. The more than $18,000 estimate has created a new sense of urgency for me employment-wise.)

Anyway, several promising job prospects had already crumbled to dust, but I thought I was a shoo-in for the latest job I’d sought, a library aide position in the local high school. Sure, it was part time for relatively low hourly pay and no benefits, but c’mon—how could I NOT get it?! I’m an aide at the public library with a background in education! This job is MADE for me, right?!

Nope. I didn’t get it.

I went into a tailspin, feeling like a total failure who’s doomed to perpetual underemployment and incipient poverty. To make matters worse, my dog had two brief seizures in the middle of the night; she’d had two before, but over a week of peaceful nights had lulled me into believing they were anomalies. She recovered quickly and has been otherwise fine, but these frightening cracks in her fortress of good health have left me unnerved, not to mention sleep deprived. I’d just paid at least $300 in vet bills between her spaying and vaccinations, though, so the last thing I wanted to do was spend more; I swung between castigating myself because I didn’t rush her to the vet’s office and have tests done and self-reproach at my prodigality for even thinking about doing so.

So between these events and some other little ones, too small and numerous to be worth describing, I felt like things were falling apart. My breaking point didn’t come until that “things are falling apart” phrase became literal, though: A strap on the good dress sandals I usually wore to work had broken, so I dug an emergency back-up pair out of the hall closet. I went to the library congratulating myself on my foresight in keeping them, but I hadn’t been there fifteen minutes when I noticed I was leaving a black, crumbly trail wherever I walked. One of the raised soles had partially disintegrated, and soon the entire right heel had broken off.

My footwear, pre-Maternal Intervention

My footwear, pre-Maternal Intervention

At that point, I was ready to give up. I limped around the library, shelving books and weeping. Fortunately, I have some of the best friends and co-workers I could ever ask for, and there just happened to be a Friends of the Library meeting that night. Reassuring words, a few hugs, and an eloquent explanation of why I should be glad I didn’t get the job I wanted (plus a sincere expression of sympathy for whatever poor soul DID), and I was feeling much better by the end of my shift.

This was fortunate, because my last pair of emergency back-up sandals also disintegrated the next day. This time, the soles crumbled so badly that I had to complete my shift barefoot. I was lucky it was only an hour and the library was unusually slow, so only three people witnessed my humiliating predicament, but my disconcerting lack of footwear almost pushed me back over the emotional edge my co-workers had rescued me from the previous day.

And this is where my mother, the Super Matriarch, enters the picture and saves the day. I’m not even sure if she was aware of how dire my footwear situation was, but she called that evening and proposed a shopping trip while my son was at his morning Kindergarten Readiness class.

My footwear, post-Maternal Intervention

My footwear, post-Maternal Intervention

While shopping anywhere that doesn’t sell books and/or plants is generally anathema to me, I was at that moment highly receptive to her suggestion. So, Friday morning, we met in Eau Claire, had a nice breakfast filled with coffee and mutual insight, and then hit the stores armed with my mother’s copious coupons. While I’d never been much of a shopper myself, she is the Shopping Muse.

Within the space of two hours, I had four new pairs of shoes, four new (desperately needed) bras, two pairs of capris, a nightgown, and a much brighter outlook on life. All that, and I wasn’t even late to pick up my son when his class ended at noon.

I know I owe my mother a lot—my own experience of maternity has taught me more about how much. I’ve learned there’s a lot more to being a mom than simply bestowing the gift of life. You have to be Provider, Nurturer, Story-Reader, Counselor, Cook, and—in my mom’s case anyway—Fashion Advisor. And, also in my mom’s case, Salvager of Lousy Weeks.

You acquitted your duty admirably, Mom. Thank you.


  1. I’m sorry you had such a discouraging week. Your post managed to redirect a lot of anxiety into gratitude, and it was wonderful to read a tribute that appreciates the many miracles mothers provide.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement! I’m really glad to hear from you again; the blogosphere just isn’t the same without you. I hope you’re doing well and that your sabbatical was productive. I always look forward to your posts, and I can’t wait to hear about your latest adventures; judging from the comments, I’m not the only one among your legion of fans who feels the same! > Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2013 18:58:13 +0000 > To: reharris68@hotmail.com >

  2. Your mother is beautiful in so many ways, many I’m sure, reflected in you. The “shoe” metaphor is marvelous, Rebecca.

    1. Thank you–I agree that she is. (And I’m wearing one of the pairs of shoes she got me even as I type; maternal influences are omnipresent!) > Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2013 17:26:21 +0000 > To: reharris68@hotmail.com >

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