Tuesday, February 4, 2014

10 Questions I Asked My Mother

Anne Victoria

Last week, Cupcakes and Cashmere shared a link to this blog post on Clementine Daily, which contains ten thoughtful questions you should ask your mother. I thought this was a genius idea. Even though I live with her at the moment, our daily conversation revolves around the mundane details of life.  It was nice to sit down and have an honest and meaningful conversation with each other.

First, here's a little background information on my mother.  Her father Linwood (known also as Fred) was a principled go-getter who left his native Canada after a short courtship to marry Ethel her mother, a vibrant and fun-loving Bostonian.  They made quite a pair, Fred and Ethel.  They settled in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts and by 1959 had two dark-haired bright-eyed children born on the same date, exactly three years apart. Then in 1964 along came Anne, my mother. Mom was a quiet and bookish child, a shy and sweet soul with strawberry blond hair. She loved to read and play the piano and after high school went to Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School in Boston.  She married my Dad in 1985.

(Top) Chubby cheeks. Aside from the red hair, my sister looked just like this in her baby pictures.
(Bottom) Wasn't my mom such a cutie? (Please excuse the vaguely disapproving doll next to her. Toys in the '60s were a bit creepy.)
Now on to the questions!

+ Outside of family members, who inspires you the most?

"I'm not the type to be deeply inspired by strangers, or people I don't know.  My grandmother [Ella] is one of my biggest inspirations.  Simply put, she put God first, and then wife and mother second and third.  It made her who she was.  She lived with us when I was in the 6th grade.  Both my mother and father worked so Grammie Kaye was the one to greet me at the door after school with a plate of fresh-baked molasses crinkles or warm cinnamon toast.  I also spent summers visiting her at the old family farm in New Brunswick, Canada.  Even in her later years, she was so pleasant to be around.  She was such a peaceful influence, except when I would place a fake mouse on the stairs just to hear her shriek."
 Ethel (mother), Cecil (grandfather), and Ella (grandmother)

+ How would your childhood friends describe you?
"This is difficult to answer. Sally Bertolet was my first best friend and I loved going over to her house where we would make up board games and play with our dolls.  Sally always had the big ideas, though, and I was content to go along.  I was a bit of a loner in my school years. There was the group of popular girls I guess you would say, and they would invite me to do things with them but I always felt sort of on the edge, like I didn't quite fit in.  I loved nothing more that to come home from school and play the piano or read for hours."
+ What is better about the world today than when you were growing up?
"Communication is so much easier these days.  The accessibility of people because of technology is incredible."

+ What's the best gift you've ever received?

"There are four of them [referencing my siblings and I].  Well, your father got me a wok for my birthday once and that was nice. [laughs] No, you kids are the greatest gifts."

+ If you could instantly have one new skill (i.e. foreign language, musical talent, public speaking, etc.), what would it be?

"Art.  I wish I knew more about it, like shading, how to use different materials such as charcoal pencils, etc.  I enjoy drawing and lettering but I don't feel like I'm very good at it."

[editor's note: My mom is really good at both of them, don't let her tell you different.]

+ When did you know you had found the one?
"When I visited your father [Ross] at his house after we had been dating about 5 or 6 months.  It was February of 1984.  It just occurred to me: 'I love this guy.'  I love the way he thinks, he's steady, has purpose, and is dependable.  Plus, he hadn't said it yet but I knew he loved me.  He cared about his family, I could see a very content future with him."
 Mom and Dad, shortly after they began dating in 1983 and then on their wedding day, July 6, 1985

+When did you know you wanted to be a mom?
"To be honest, it was when my sister [Debbie, 8 years older] started having kids.  I just fell in love with them.  While I was still at home, they lived close to us and I just adored Christina and Lindsey.  I saw Debbie as a mother and it occurred to me, 'I want that, I could do it too!'"
Cute story: my oldest cousin Christina thought the instant the ceremony was over that my mom was leaving forever and so she cried and clung to her throughout the pictures.  To this day, my mom and Christina have a special bond.

+ What was/is the hardest thing about being a mother? The most rewarding?
"Aside from potty training (what a nightmare!), the hardest thing is letting you go.  Multiple times, like your first day of kindergarten, the day you moved away to college, when your sister left home for Texas, when your brother left for graduate school.  Even when Eva got married it wasn't as hard, because she wasn't alone and she had already moved away. But when you kids leave that first time, even when you come back, there is a hole there.
The most rewarding is seeing you off doing what you love and watching you make choices--good or bad--that make you grow as a person.  I truly love and enjoy you, even in the difficult times.  It is fascinating to see what happens in your lives."

(Top) The Three Musketeers, until 2003 when along came Squeaks. I remember my childhood well but it feels weird that this little dude wasn't part of our gang until I was a teenager.  (Bottom) Spencer, Sam, Eva, and I at Eva's high school graduation

+  If you could go back in time to any period in history, where would you go and why?
"The 1920s, specifically as my grandmother.  In 1923, she was newly married and living in a new city--new country even-- with a new husband.  [She moved from New Brunswick, Canada to Boston, Massachusetts after she married.]  It was just an exciting time.  So many great things were happening in Boston and the U.S., despite the hard times to come.  Plus I just love the way they dressed."
(R) Ella and Cecil, with the Charles River and Cambridge behind them
(L) Ella hanging the wash on the roof of their apartment building in downtown Boston

+  What question would you ask your mother?
"My mom was an open book, even sometimes providing you with too much information or advice, but that was what I loved about her.  I knew she loved me very much and I'm content with what I know about her. I think that was everyone's experience with her."

My lovely Grammie, always radiant with energy and warmth
Thanks, Mom, for subjecting yourself to an interview (and for all the pictures).  As for the rest of you, if you have time and opportunity, give your mother a call.  What would you ask her?

One last picture. Is it weird that I want to go back in time and squeeze her cute face? Speaking of, that expression is one mirrored frequently in Spencer's face all the time.


  1. I just loved this. Your mom is so dear and she comes shining through in this. I love her answers. And that bit about seeing a very content future with your dad- Isn't it lovely to want that? So many want something different at that age and then, when they get something different, all they want is what your mom has. This is a post you need to get into some sort of book! You know- the kind you have printed up from blog posts.
    Spencer is a copy of her in looks!

  2. So many times over the past 10 years I have wanted to talk to my Mom, Ellie .. so many things I'd love to ask her now that I have grown kids of my own! Wonderful that you did this, and you happen to have a very special Mom. I fell in love with her when I dated your Uncle David and we have been friends ever since. Thank you so much for sharing her with us in this way!


I love to hear what you're thinking! Thanks for the comment love. :)


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