In love with another woman

September 23rd, 2007

Dyson_DC18_All_Floors_Vacuum_CleanerWhen we kids used to ask my mom what she wanted for her birthday or Christmas, she would say something like, “panty hose.” No, she wouldn’t say something like panty hose. That’s exactly what she said. She said panty hose, or stationery, or stamps, or Tupperware lids. (Not needing the bowls, you see, but the lids that always came up missing.) These answers were ridiculous to us. We cracked jokes about them. We cracked jokes about her. We didn’t believe anyone could be so unimaginative, so uninspired by the opportunity to improve herself. She was only interested in the trifling, mundane things she could actually use. Snort.

I’m probably remembering this now because my birthday is this week. Birthdays are rather significant to me. I am of a substantial age. And the product you see pictured here is my heart’s desire. I realized recently that it has long been my heart’s desire, but I have not been open enough with my own heart to express its desire. I am over jewelry; I don’t object to it but I just don’t wear it. Books find their way in and out by themselves. Fine cookware, of late, has energized my meal-making, so I’ve restocked. But otherwise, when I’m asked what I want as a gift, I have to say nothing, in the most sincere way. I’m through trying to dress up the scenery.

Until this year.

So I’m thinking again of my mother and what a mystery she has been to me in so many ways. This anniversary of my birth is the anniversary of her, long ago and far away from her family, barely 23, a good girl, smart, hard-working and fresh-off-the-farm in love with a reckless and insecure boy of 25, giving birth to her second baby in as many years. There would be one more and then she would be 27 and done with the having babies part.

But not done, indeed, never done, with the raising kids, keeping house and doing laundry part; the cooking and cleaning part; the shopping, clipping coupons and scrimp-and-saving part; the worrying night-and-day part; the folding grocery sacks and changing the vacuum filter part; the get-up-and-go-to-work-part; the night school, the ever-onward to the next credential; to overdue promotions; to conventions and committees; to daily troubles and nightly heartbreaks; to writing weekly letters and stamping endless envelopes; and storing leftovers in Tupperware after every meal.

It took me more than 40 years to comprehend a fraction of my mother’s life: the parts we shared and especially the parts we didn’t. But I’ve been coming around on this front, just as you have. We all understand our mothers better now, or so I hope for your sake. My mother wasn’t what I thought she was. She never stopped improving things. She alone kept things going. She took every opportunity to make things better. She knew all along what I’ve only learned lately. Once you put yourself into the effort, your whole heart, your undying love, there’s really nothing else you need.

But the Dyson DC 18 Slim All Floors Vacuum? That little dazzler sure can turn your head.

Written with love to my forever mother.

Your middle one,
Karen Kay


  1. Thank you so much for this lovely post. I couldn’t agree more. We used to tease my mother mercilessly about her weird “shopping jags” where she would stock up on huge quantities of sale priced toilet paper or some other totally mondane item. I just didn’t get it then. Now that I’m older and wiser, I deeply appreciate her frugal ways and only wish that I could be half as wise as she is.

    She often asked for odd things for gifts also. Once she asked for a pyrex glass measuring cup for Christmas! I bought her that and some cute earrings, but it was the measuring cup that made her happy.

    She’s fading fast these days, so we enjoy the time we have left with her.

    All the best, Karen Ann

    Comment by Karen DeBolt — September 23, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

  2. Beautiful!

    Happy birthday, Maezen, many happy returns of the day!

    Comment by Wendy — September 23, 2007 @ 11:19 pm

  3. Karen Ann, thank you for hearing me.
    Wendy, taken to heart.

    Comment by Karen — September 24, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

  4. Happy Birthday.
    I am grateful for your birth, your life, for your mother who birthed and gave you life.

    As for mothers and knowing them differently, yes. Me too.

    And if you ever get your heart’s desire, I just may have to move close to you so I can come borrow it. because I have long longed for just such a beauty.

    Comment by bella — September 24, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

  5. I was just wondering a few minutes, thanks to the great big giveaway at 5 minutes for mom, if longing for a vacuum cleaner — a pink one at that — was wrong. Until now. Thank you.

    I have my own heart’s desire.

    In many ways I, too, see why my mom was the way she was. Why she never bought nice clothes for herself, etc.

    Lovely insight.

    I hope you have a wonderful birthday week! Happy Birthday.

    Comment by Shawn — September 24, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

  6. One of the most amazing parts of becoming a mother is finally seeing your own mother as a person. At least that’s been my experience.

    A wonderful post, Happy Birthday, and I hope you get that vacuum cleaner!

    Comment by Mama Zen — September 24, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

  7. Bella, as long as you’re packing…

    Shawn, nothing wrong with desires, it’s the attachments to desire. Come to think of it, that’s what’s wrong with most vacuums too. (But not this one!)

    Mama, baby needs a new ‘cuum.

    Thank you all for wishing with me.

    Comment by Karen — September 25, 2007 @ 3:05 am

  8. Happy birthday dear Maezen. What a lovely and life affirming post. How silly to think that the relationship with our mothers ends with their departure from this earth?

    I for one and rooting for you to get the Dyson of your heart. May it remove much dust and dirt.

    Comment by Leah — September 26, 2007 @ 4:17 am

  9. ha! my mother always asked for pantyhose, too. that cracked me up.

    Comment by jen lemen — September 28, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

  10. Happy birthday. What a beautiful post. Now that I am a mama, I’m always asking for the practical things too. I have too much stuff in my life already; I want the things I will actually use.

    Comment by Mary P Jones (MPJ) — September 30, 2007 @ 6:39 am

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