Easily Onward, Through Flowers and Weed

This is my mom (on the right). Circa 1967. And this is how beautiful she is to me.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

I was thinking about my mom today while I was making my breakfast. When we lived in Japan back then, she learned to make an omelet in a wok. She would swirl the egg mixture around the pan and it would create a thin, thin wrapper for whatever you might want to put inside. She would put buttered rice inside of it for us and it was sooooo yummy. My sister, Tami, loved ketchup on hers. I hated ketchup. So I chose barbecue sauce instead. (You know kids. They think they need sauce on everything.) I know this sounds weird, but I love it.

This wok omelet is something I never learned, so I resorted to just making scrambled eggs on top of rice with bbq sauce drizzled over it. Still tastes like that great breakfast, sans the love. However, the memory of the love is there. In every bite. Every single time I make this, I remember the warm love of my mother. Today, as I drizzled the bbq sauce on my eggs, I had a little flashback to the sight of my mother doing this. She didn’t haphazardly toss it on my omelet. She made everything pretty and nice. I deeply felt that the reason she made things special was because I was special. She never complained about the terrible trial of raising four girls. I’m sure she had bad days, but I don’t recall her ever taking them out on anyone. She must have suffered in private. Because God knows, motherhood is full of suffering. But here’s what I learned from her:

Children ought to be made to feel important, but not most important. Children should not feel more important than their parents. The world (or the omelet) can be handed to them on a platter, but the world does not revolve around them. Parents should be given the position of respect. And it’s right for parents to respect each other. We were told when dad came home, he was tired and needed peace and quiet. She honored him highly. Never did she speak a disparaging word about him. By example, she made the demand that we respect him as much as she did. We got the same message from him. He revered my mother and by example, made sure that we respected her as much as he did. We were not given the first position. They were. But this made us feel no less important.

It’s tricky business, this. Friends and I have often discussed the issue that seems to come up when single parents date and develop serious relationships. Sometimes there are implications or full on accusations that “You are choosing your children over me!” First of all, if someone says that to me, it’s already over. Mainly because it is definitely not a matter of “choosing” but also because I think this makes that person a whiny bitch and I see no future for us. Most people respond with, “Yeah! Of course I choose my children over you! They are my children!” But as I said, I find this to be putting the concept on a level where it does not belong. And I refuse to put it there. Of course I don’t think it’s a good thing to put your children’s demands above those of your needs. The same goes for your significant other’s needs. I also don’t think it’s okay to put the demands of your significant other above the needs of your children. So you see what I’m getting at? Just as in the home I grew up in, my mother didn’t teach us that our father mattered more. Nor did she tell him that we mattered more. We all mattered. She just showed us that in different circumstances, some needs take precedence. And that love and respect should rule in all of these things.

So there you have it. Lessons from the wok of life. I love you, mom.



The Exception said...

She sounds wonderful - what a woman... and the meal sounds interesting too!
I sometimes wonder if we are asked to choose between relationships out of fear or insecurities?
My daughter's father openly chooses his wife and other kids to the point that if his wife is around, he will ignore our daughter, and he refuses to spend time with our daughter alone because he doens't want the other kids to believe that he chooses her. This is foreign to me as I believe and teach that each relationship has a role to play - that love doesn't ask us to choose but it accepts and opens to embrace it all. We respect, trust, and accept relationships and how they fit into our lives. The idea of asking anyone to choose boggles my mind.
Yet, he believes that his family can choose another over him (he is an only child) probably because for our daughter's life, he has chosen other kids and his wife over her and states that the cost our daughter pays is okay with him as long as his wife is happy.
Fear? Insecurity? Love?

Brad K. said...


One of the major cultural shifts since the early 1960's was called "the summer of love". "Don't trust anyone over 30" was another aphorism taken to heart.

This disrupted getting a lot of information from older generations. One particular concept that is raising its ugly head is about selecting a mate.

Back when Hippies with halucinogens and weed were choosing intimate companions by who was "holding" something recreational, or available, the assumption that everyone is beautiful, everyone is the same.

But that means the back-woods, old time practice of evaluating a mate-prospect for character, for respect and behavior, for skills and likelihood of being an asset to the community and family - these all fell by the wayside.

Where your mother and her family likely spent considerable time evaluating your dad's prospects before agreeing to the wedding, that has been considered "old fashioned" for the last fifty years. Where your mother had reason to cherish the trust, honor, and respect in her husband's character - she made sure it was there before accepting him - many today discover too late that these things matter. And in the last fifty years, with the "I loved him so I married him" paradigm, it is no wonder that surprises in character (abusive, disrespectful, untrustworthy, dishonorable, etc.) are common - and we have a divorce rate that reflects failure to determine we hitch our wagon to an honorable star.

That is, much of your mother's honor and respect for her husband were justified by the selection she did before deciding to marry. That used to be pretty common, 70 years ago or more.

cathouse teri said...

My parents knew each other six weeks on the day they got married in 1956.

Brad K. said...


I am not sure what the six weeks have to do with what your mother needed to know, to decide to marry your father. Character flaws tends to come out quickly, if you look for them, and the wise lady (and gentleman) understands that the time before the wedding, however brief, is the time to pull the plug if you have important, unanswered questions.

Apparently your mother had enough time to make a choice she could live with, and apparently she lived her life honoring her choice.

Blessed be!

cathouse teri said...

I'm sorry, Brad but I think you've completely missed my point in writing this story.

And I think you are wrong. Character traits do not come out quickly. And a discussion about the signs of the times will get you nowhere with me. Because I believe there is nothing new under the sun.

exskindiver said...

hi teri,
i love this post.
i see you've not written here in a while.
you've been busy travelling another road.... ;)

just last night I expressed this exact sentiment to my daughters--13-11 yrs old.

"We all mattered. She just showed us that in different circumstances, some needs take precedence. And that love and respect should rule in all of these things"

not as eloquently.
and maybe said in a slightly threatening voice.

hope you've been well.