In honor of Mother’s Day, here is an excerpt of one of my favorite parts of my book, Getting the Pretty Back, along with Ruben Toledo’s beautiful illustrations.
Happy Mother’s day to all you mothers! (Especially you, Mom…)
Best Mom Moments
I asked my friends to remember the best thing their mother ever did for them. As surprising as the range of experiences was, equally surprising were the power and vividness of these memories. Reading this, it’s a tribute to all mothers and makes you realize that everything you do as a mother counts, and will be remembered.
ILANA (ACTRESS): To turn over a new leaf. Whenever we got into conflict, we would sit down after we talked it through and take a leaf and turn it over, which was the symbol of starting over, with a new beginning, and learning from what just happened.
JULIA (COSTUME DESIGNER): Made sure my brothers and I had a delicious meal together every night. I can’t think of a meal growing up that was not cooked with love.
SANDY (ACTRESS): My mom told me never to wear mauve or olive green. They’re not my colors.
SARAH (MUSIC INDUSTRY EXEC): She told me right before she died (I was in my early twenties) that the best thing she did was raise kids who were going to have a great and happy life together, even knowing how desperately they’d miss her and even if she couldn’t be there to share it day by day.
MARISA (EDITOR): Told me repeatedly that life isn’t fair.
JAMES (ARCHITECT, WRITER): My mother was a remarkable woman, an urbane and sophisticated New Yorker with, among other things, a strong and distinctive fashion sense. When she would appear for my elementary school parent-teacher conferences in, say, a poncho outfit with matching wool muffler—a superbly stylish mid-sixties look—it drove me crazy. “Why can’t you look like the other mothers?” I’d complain. She would express some concern, but then proceed to go on her way, following her instincts about clothing as well as many things . . . a confident and fearless attitude that, years later, I realized was perhaps her greatest gift to me.
ELIZABETH (STUDENT): She taught me the importance and beauty of giving people room to be who they are. That, and how to hard-fold a towel, back-comb my hair, moonwalk like Michael Jackson, and lead a mean campfire song.
PANIO (WRITER): When I was four, my mother let me walk to preschool by myself every morning. Strutting along the sidewalk of our tiny town of Shelburne Falls, passing storefronts while swinging my red Snoopy lunch box, I felt unbelievably proud and grown-up. It was a stunning counterpoint to preschool where, speaking almost no English, I would hide by the aquarium. After I became a father and began taking my daughter to preschool, I called up my mother and asked, “Are you completely crazy? You let me walk to school by myself! I was four years old!” “Of course I didn’t let you,” she told me. “I kept about twenty feet behind you—close enough to make sure you were safe, but far enough so that you didn’t know I was there and would feel like a big kid.”
TODD (WRITER): She always made me feel like I’d get a second chance if I made a mistake.
COLIN (DANCER, ACTOR, SINGER): The embrace of my mom. My favorite place to this day is probably in the arms of my mother.