Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Things My Mom and I Did that I’ll Never Get to Do with My Girls

Today, my girls get to go to school with me because they are on spring break. Seeing their excitement as they lay out clothes and make plans for the scooters in an empty gymnasium, I remember my excitement when I got to go to work with my mom. I smile to myself remembering how proud I was watching my her, the administrative assistant, run her office, anticipating everyone’s needs, setting up meeting spaces, having documents no one asked her prepared and ready to hand off before the boss remembered to request them. She was super-duper fantastic to me, and I love that on some level, I get to be that for my girls.

The memories of seeing my mom at her office, showing me off to her co-workers, makes me remember some other times we had together, times forever etched in the fabric of my upbringing that, good or bad, I’ll never share with my daughters.

Here’s a list of some of those experiences:



We had these exact bowls at our house!

Decorating for, cooking for, and executing a Tupperware (or lingerie) party before Daddy gets home. I remember the punch bowls and pasta salad, the sprinkling and vacuuming up of carpet fresh, and great little games to win the samples and coax purchase.


Remember when it wasn’t taboo to smoke with your kids in the car? Or when your mom would crack the window 1/8 of an inch as if that was all the fresh air you needed while she smoked?

Running into a gas station with the express purpose of buying cigarettes. “Give me a pack of Virginia Slims Menthol Lights please.” Yep, she hasn’t smoked in 20 years, but I still remember that mantra.


Cruising the aisles of a Blockbuster Video Store hoping that the movie you’ve been waiting to see is behind the cover. “Please let there be one left this week,” I say. “And that it’s already rewound,” Mom would add.


A welcome respite after the obligatory school shopping.

Spending ten minutes admiring the toys she couldn’t afford after spending an afternoon shopping for school clothes and shoes. No, I wasn’t always going to get something, but it made the trip to the mall seem worth it nonetheless.

buster brown

A Back-to-School staple in our house.

Wishing my school didn’t have brown as an approved color for school shoes, knowing that it was Mom’s favorite color. No amount of pleading or crying was going to make a difference. The brown ones were slightly cheaper and indestructible. I could jump double-dutch, play football, and perform in the school production with the same pair of shoes.


Is it me, or was this place better than Chuck E Cheese will ever be?

Having my birthday party at a ShowBiz Pizza. I had my Mitzi Mozzarella doll for years!


My mom could crank out my 10-page handwritten book report in 5 minutes on this bad boy!

Watching my mom’s fingers fly as she made my 5th grade papers look like professional documents! She even bought me those “fancy” plastic covers with the neon slide on sides. I impressed many a Catholic school teacher with those babies!


Oh, yes. Thanksgiving in the 80’s meant red buckets of chitterlings needing to be cleaned and cooked! 

Being run out of the kitchen by the smell of raw (and then cooked) chitterlings. To this day, the thought, an unpleasant one, sends me recoiling in fear of permanently ruining my sense of smell.


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