Beware the Ides of March

Mom and me in the 1990s.
My mom and me in the 1990s.

Today would have been my mother’s birthday. The Ides of March. (Mom died New Year’s Day.) Today I’m going to my brother’s house and we will reminisce and have dinner with family including my mom’s little sister who is 13 years younger than mom.

My mom often told me that she raised her little sister.

My cousin wrote me a loving sympathy letter that included a funny story I had never heard before about Mom, my aunt (my cousin’s mom) and red squares.

My aunt had a friend over and my mom, as the older sister, had them in a competition to earn red cloth squares. I’m not sure what ages they were, but Mom had them busy doing chores. They would earn a red cloth square for finishing their chore first.

I talked to my aunt about it and she said whoever earned the most red squares won the grand prize. She said she wanted the grand prize more than anything!

She won — and the grand prize turned out to be a bigger red cloth square.

Mom was a strong Christian and I have memories of her giving us a Bible verse each morning. She typed hundreds of them on 3 1/2 by 2″ cards.

She was big on chores and that’s one thing I despised the most coming home from school. We’d come home to an empty house, as latch key kids when Mom was earning her degree in Music at the University of Washington. She already had a degree in Home-Ec Education. Mom would leave a legal-sized yellow sheet of college-ruled paper with both sides filled with chores to be done before she got home. She had an ineligible scrawl that was hard to read.

I realize now, she not only wanted dinner cooked, the dishes done, the house vacuumed, the garage swept (you get the idea) — she was keeping my brother and I out of trouble. She was keeping us busy.

Tomorrow we spread her ashes at our riverfront property.

Here’s a photo of her in her teens or early twenties at the river.

What chores did you have growing up? Did you have your children do chores too?

I Am Woman Hear Me Roar … or, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby…

imagesDuring my weekend visit with my son at UCSB, we discovered how far women have come from my generation to his. (Yes, I’m talking about the same son that tried to give away the cat on Facebook — read about that here. And, he’s the one that wrote about his crazy mom for his senior project — read about that here.)imgres-1

We were out to dinner at The Palms in Carpinteria, where you grill your own steaks or halibut, with one of my best friends, my son Robert, and his girlfriend (She’s a poet and an CCS English Lit major. You can read some of her poetry here).

imgresMy friend and I talked about home ec, and we wondered if it was offered as a major in this day and age? My mom was a home ec major in the 1950s, by the way.

My son said, “They really DID have an MRS degree!”

“Not only was it a college major,” I said, “but we were required to take home ec in high school.”

“Only the girls, that is,” my friend said.

“WHAT?!” both Robert and his girlfriend were horrified. How alien to their lives is a gender-based school requirement. We explained that the boys took wood-working or shop.

My son thought for minute and asked, “What did you learn in home ec?”

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“Scrambled eggs, sewing an apron, sex ed, how to clip coupons and general household budgeting,” I answered.P1017847

“All of those things should be taught to men and women,” the kids said.  

I think they are right.

Thinking of those days, made me remember the Virginia Slims cigarette campaign which began in 1968, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!” 

Also, Helen Reddy, and her song, “I Am Woman.” 

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Do colleges or high schools still offer home ec? Do you think home ec should be required for both men and women? Let me know your thoughts.