When you don’t have your mother, you tend to feel a little disconnected. At least I do. When you don’t have your mother, you realize how much you wish you could have five more minutes with her. You wish that all the times you complained or found her annoying, you could take it all back and do it all over again. Today, I’m remembering all the little things that I took for granted when I was younger. We were always close, but there were times when we would push each other’s buttons. It’s funny, how they always say, when you grow up, you will instantly become your mother in so many ways. I don’t think I am nearly as good as she was as a mom, but I am always trying. These are the things that you think about when you don’t have your mother.
When I was younger, crossing the streets with my mom would be like an Olympic event. She would first look to the left and right about a hundred times, making sure there were no cars in sight. As she was doing that, she would grab my hand so tightly, holding on for dear life, she would leave me with no feeling left in my fingers. When it was time to cross, she would literally pick me up off the ground, I can feel the wind beneath me, and I always closed my eyes thinking we would for sure have lift off. Once we got to the other side, she would always say, “We made it!” I’m not sure why she was so paranoid about crossing the street. Was she that afraid we would get hit by a car? When I think back on it now, I can laugh. As I grew up, her paranoia transferred to me as I became the fastest street crosser in New Jersey.
At the young age of 12, I fell in love with a boy across town. I was convinced he would be husband and that was before I ever met him. You are probably thinking to yourself, first, 12, really, so young and you’re in love? Second, it was with someone I had never met before. Let me quickly explain. After watching my uncle who is just a year and half older than me talk on his CB radio, I quickly became hooked, I convinced my dad to get me one. I started talking to a few local boys on the CB radio every day. I had a serious crush on a boy who lived in the same town as me and was two years older. His CB handle was “Teddy Bear.” My CB handle was “Brown Eyes.” As we were spending serious amounts of time talking on the radio, I wanted to meet him so badly. My parents warned me that I wasn’t allowed to give out personal information such as our address, or phone number on the air. We cleverly figured out a way to exchange all the information without our parents knowing. If I can remember correctly, we would give each other one number every other day on a different channel. I would say “2” and meet me on channel 6. Give him another number and meet me on channel ___. This went on for about a week until we both had our complete address and phone numbers. I was in love! My parents did figure this out eventually when I threatened to run away if I wasn’t allowed to go out with my future husband. Bringing me to my next story.
One Sunday after church, we were in the kitchen. I handed my mom a letter I had written her and I sat down at the table. She asked me, “What’s this?” I said read it. I had written a letter to my parents declaring my love for the boy I met on the CB radio. By that time, yes, I had met him secretly. After we were able to exchange addresses and phone numbers, when we were not spending time on the CB, we were talking on the phone. We arranged to meet after school one day while our parents were at work. We went to different schools; He went to a Catholic school in the next town over. He said I’m going to be playing hockey in a field near my house, why don’t you come then? So, I did. This was the first time we were meeting, and I was so nervous. I walked with my friend across our town a pretty good distance to get there. He was playing with another boy that I also talked to on the CB, who lived across the street from me. When I got there, he came over to the fence, smiled and said hi. Literally, this was about it. I watched him continue to play hockey for a few minutes and I knew I had to get back home before my mom started looking for me. Yes, that was my big first look at my future husband. I thought he was so cute, he had blue eyes, he was tall with dark wavy hair. Perfect husband material.
So, back to the letter I wrote to my mom. I told her how I had met him, he was perfect and that I know I couldn’t officially date until I was 14, but I begged her to let me go out with him. She read the letter and said absolutely not. He is two years older than you and already in high school. He can wait for you. I was so upset, I was crying, “Please mom, please!” This went on for a good hour until I just got up and left. I had to tell my future husband he had to wait, and he did, kind of. He waited as he dated another girl throughout high school. Ha! We kept in touch all through high school, even when he went away to another private school out of state. I still have many saved letters and post cards from him. We never dated each other, but continued to talk, flirt and think about the what if’s and the somedays. After he went away to college, we lost touch. So much for my future husband.
When I was in high school, wait, let’s backtrack. When I was about 3 years old, I started taking dance lessons and my only goal in life was to be a star. I wanted to be famous, a movie or tv star, I wanted to sing and dance on Broadway. Around 14 years old, I started to follow all the famous Swimsuit Models. Christie Brinkley and Rachel Hunter were my favorites. I would watch the documentaries on the making of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition on HBO. At the end of the documentary, as the credits rolled, I noticed the address for the Wilhelmina and Ford Modeling Agency in New York City. At the very tall height of 5’, I decided to take pictures of myself, and send them in with a letter about my dreams of being a fashion model. As the letters of rejection came in one after another, I decided I was going to become a star another way. I applied to become part of the Miss New Jersey contest. When that letter of acceptance came in the mail, I couldn’t be happier.
Once again, I brought that letter right to my mom, all smiles and happily reported to her, that not only was I accepted as a contestant, here were the things “she” had to do so I can continue my journey of becoming a big star. I needed $500 bucks, two gowns, and a swimsuit. She looked at me and said, “Joann, you cannot do this, you are too young.” Once again, I’m hysterical crying and telling her how awful she is, that she doesn’t understand. This is my dream, and why can’t I do this? She always had a reason for everything and at the time, I was so annoyed by them all. Today, I can look back on this and thank my lucky stars that she stuck to her guns and always said no to my teenage dreams. Miss New Jersey?? Seriously, what was I thinking?
I’d like to say over the years my dreams of stardom died down, but they didn’t. I continued to try out or audition for everything in my hometown. I sent my pictures to all kinds of agencies, always getting my rejection letters stating I did not meet the “requirements.” I stopped dancing around 25 years old and my dreams to be a star had finally died. After years of rejection letters and the consistent “Nos” from my mom I realized it just wasn’t meant to be.
When you don’t have your mom, you remember all the times you did. And that’s a good thing. Thank God my memories are written down in my journals so I can look back and remember the many times my mom made sure I was going in the right direction. What are some of the things you remember about your mom? I’d love to hear in the comments below.