Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mama Mia

Yesterday, my Mother said a remarkable thing to me.

My Mother is a wonderful Supermom beamed directly out of a fifties sitcom. She sewed our clothes when we were young; we never had a store-bought halloween costume (including my sixth-grade turn parading as a barrel of oil to protest the first Gulf War - that took some ingenuity on her part); she was PTA president at least once at every school I ever attended; to my eternal horror she chaperoned our band trips to Colorado and Galveston, and she considers it a crippling indictment of her motherhood and femininity and a betrayal of her core belief system when she does not have time to make dinner and is forced to take us to a restaurant.

When she calls, the most pressing problem is one of the following:
"Do you have a round cake pan?"


"What food will you want when you're in town?"

Mother is an absolute Goddess of the domestic realm in a way that I could never hope to achieve. She raised three kids and half of our friends to boot. When one of my old pals gets a promotion or engaged, his/her own parents are notified, and then my Mom. She very nearly tried to adopt one of my friends with an unpleasant home situation, and instead settled for buying him a half-page ad in his senior yearbook. What I'm trying to say is, she's an amazing lady. She is not, however, particularly interested in politics or global events.

When I went to Georgia last year, I called to check in upon landing.
"Susan. I found Georgia on a map."
"That's great Mom! So, can you find Tbilisi? That's where I am, and tomorrow..."
"Susan. I don't like this."
"What do you mean?"
"Georgia is very close to Iran."
"Yes, but it's not exactly like going from Kansas to Nebraska. They don't have a ton to do with one another."
"Well, don't try to go to church because then they'll know you're Christian."
"Mom. Georgians are Christians too. They're not going to blow me up."

My Georgian friends got a kick out of this, but I merely cringed for my upcoming Tajikistan trip where she would see that small country nestled in a confluence of horror where Afghanistan and Pakistan and Kashmir and China all seemed to curl into one another.

But there isn't much that Mother won't do or learn for her little nestlings and so I was thrilled during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine when Mother reported the learning device she had shared with her trio of morning power-walking Moms to keep track of the key candidates.

"They both start with 'Y,' but the good one ends in 'O.' That's how we remember. We just laughed about how we wouldn't have any idea what was happening over there if you weren't going!"

A gaggle of suburban Dallas women power-walking and shooting the shit about Yushchenko and Yanukovych? I think that's pretty sweet.

This is where she started to really surprise me. And now mother, who doesn't like to leave suburban Dallas to go as far as Downtown Dallas; Mother, who when coming to visit me in Chicago one spring drove clear around the city, miles out of the way, to avoid any contact with the actual city; Mother, who has only left the country one time—to visit her other daughter who was studying abroad in Prague; Mother who loves her large grocery stores and her parking lots and her familiar, comfortable world; Mother is planning to visit me in Georgia.

She is excited about this adventure, and mark my words, come hell or high water she will bring me Gebhardt's chili powder and Adam's Best Vanilla Extract, and woebetide any customs official that stands in her way.

And finally, yesterday, while chatting with Mom about desserts and recipes and family illnesses, she let it rip:

"I hope you're not planning to go to Azerbaijan for their November elections. It's getting really heating up there and I don't think it's going to be safe."

Holy cow. Mom busting out the South Caucasus inner-turmoil-revolution-copycat knowledge. I was so floored that I forgot my usual reassuring devices and blurted out, "I know! It's probably going to be violent! I really want to go!"

And then I remembered it was Mom I was talking to, and I've now promised that I will not step one toe in Azerbaijan or she's telling Grandma. Last time I crossed Grandma and tried to return to Ukraine and miss Christmas, she shot me with her super psychosomatic Grandma power and gave me mono two days before departure. I have no doubts that the Atlantic Ocean and the whole of Europe will pose zero geographical deterrent to the reach of her powers, so I suppose I'll behave myself.


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