My mom’s name is Henrie. She goes by her middle name. She was born Lola Henrietta, and when I learned that, I couldn’t believe she’d skip a gem of a name like Lola, but Henrie is from the South, the last of 12 children. Henrietta kind of HAS to be her name.
Henrie has natural warmth, grace and elegance. She’s opinionated and loves to laugh. Hard. She is charming and people love her. She talks the baby talk I use for nearly every animal and adorable object I meet. She’s the real deal who doesn’t put down people to bring herself up. She floats on a cloud. She keeps few people close, but when she loves, she loves completely. She is fun, loves to dance and loves cats too. Obviously.
I call her Henrie, mama and mom. I was always perfect in her eyes and still am. I think I’m the favorite of her three kids because I’m her daughter, a special bond boys will never understand. I think my brothers believe they’re the favorite too. It’s a constant debate I have with my older brother Jerry, who is in his 40’s. Who’s mom’s favorite? We’ll go on for hours. (The one we pick is never one of us, it’s always my baby brother Matthew, because he’s not there to defend himself.)
Long, long ago when I was in high school and struggling with body issues, I often told my mom I felt fat or ugly. Her constant refrain was, “No you are not, you are beautiful.” One day, I looked her dead in the eye and my teenage self said, “Give it to me straight. Tell me if I really need to lose weight. Do I need to change something?”
She looked at me, perplexed. “You are beautiful! I don’t know why you don’t see it!” She seemed to sincerely feel it. Of course, I could have a wart in the middle of my face and she wouldn’t see it, but I was her baby. She called my moles beauty marks. My imperfect nose was character. That day I realized she would always be my unconditional supporter. Everyone needs one person in their life like that.
Not to say she thought everything I did was perfect. I had a tendency to overpluck my eyebrows in a way that left me looking bewildered and boy, did she let me know. Often. She still tells me to fluff my hair and wear more lipstick. My mother (whose eyebrows are mere peach fuzz) thought my caterpillar brows should be left wild and untamed. If I have a daughter, I will scold her too for over-plucking but I’ll whisk her off to get an eyebrow wax if she needs it and she probably will.
One day, I’ll be just like her. If I’m not already.
I know many new mothers. It’s so fun to see my friends become moms, when just a few years ago I feared motherhood. Not only because I saw my friends splitting off to playdates, I was afraid of being one myself. Isn’t every woman before she has children?
My friends have taught me becoming a mom changes a woman into a fierce warrior for a helpless being. They’re all crazy mama bears. One friend lives for her daughter, says her life is no longer her own. Another says love means something different completely now that she’s a mother. One mom says she and her husband have a new closeness, devotion and wonder at this little creature they’re created that makes a special little triangle of love. That circle of trust. Unbreakable.
Love you mom!