Answers for Suki or: What Was It Like to Grow Up With Deena as a Mom?
Last week my mom and I spent two days in the French Alpes with her friend whom she had not seen in 30 years (I am 25). Suki asked me what it was like to grow up with Deena as a mom; I wish I was as articulate in real life as I hope to be here.
- •I was her one and doneShe was 39 when I was born. She had already lived in France and Mexico. And New York. And who knows where else... She was married once, got stuck in traffic on the way to Woodstock, and lived a pretty full life by the time I came along. At that point she knew who she was and knew she was ready to be a mother.
- •Home-made lunches through high schoolI finally had to tell her the kid's sized Tree Top apple juice wasn't enough. She substituted it with Blue Sky Root Beer, aka hippie cola. She wanted to make sure I was eating right. Her specialty was tuna fish sandwiches with lettuce and carrot sticks from her garden. There weren't always notes, but when they were, they were usually inappropriate and funny.
- •She ran my high school snowboard teamAlong with my step-dad, Dennis. They rode the bus up every Thursday with the team, aka 50 rowdy boys. They even bought a cabin up on Mt. Hood, partially because snowboarding was such a big part of my life, and hosted 4-6 of my friends every single weekend in the winter.
- •I never rode the busShe took me to and picked me up from school every day, even while working a full time job. Always wanted to hear about my day, even if all I wanted to talk about was recess. Always let me DJ, but we'll get there in a minute.
- •She housed/fed all my friendsThere was always fresh tuna fish sandwiches after a long day of snowboarding for me and the 6 friends staying with us in our tiny cabin. When I'd have a large group of friends over to our house, there were always lots of healthy snacks to munch on. And her famous peach smoothies.
- •She was my chauffeurTo piano & bass lessons twice a week, soccer (before I quit), snowboarding (90 minute drive to the slopes), chess club, friend's houses at any hour. She enabled and encouraged me to explore all sorts of extracurriculars.
- •She curated New Yorker articles for meI didn't read them all, but the ones I did were a welcome interruption from the Judge Judy I was watching at the time - she encouraged me to learn.
- •She took me on adventuresWhite-water rafting was a major staple of my childhood; Dennis used to be a guide. We'd take week long rafting trips and get lost in the wild (well, as lost as you can get on a one-way river.)
- •She taught me to give a shit about writingWhat makes someone good at anything is care. My mom taught me to care about my work, specifically what and how I write.
- •She took me to a Rancid & AFI concertAnd stomached all my music in the car - Limp Bizkit, NoFX, Operation Ivy (I grew up musically, don't worry). She wanted to be a part of my world and found a way to appreciate it. Maybe not Limp Bizkit, but she liked some Rancid tunes!
- •While gently nudging Paul Simon, Prince, and Joni Mitchell on meAnd it worked. Our favorite album is Graceland, independent of knowing that about the other. But duh, if it's not your favorite there's something wrong with you.
- •She took a huge, genuine interest in my friendsShe wanted to know about me and my life, and the biggest part of that were my friends. She loved them all. Once she helped my friend with his Spanish homework while the rest of us were out snowboarding. I knew she loved me for a boatload of reasons, but wanting to know and love my friends spoke incredibly loudly to me.
- •99% percent of meals were home cookedUsing lots of ingredients from our garden. As a result, I always ate well and we spent almost every evening together as a family. Eventually Jon Stewart joined as part of dinner time, but not until high school.
- •She's the Weird Al of animal songsAll of our animals had special songs which were usually just Winnie the Pooh with different lyrics.
- •She fully embraced the third of the year I spent with my fatherIt couldn't have been easy to put me alone on a plane starting at the age of 3, but she never let on and always encouraged the craziness that was time in LA with my dad.
- •She opened up our home to my dadHe'd fly up from LA often and stay with us in our log home. It wasn't always stress-free, but he was always welcome.
- •She gave everything of herself to me and yet never ran dryJust this past week in France she gave me the last bite of everything. When I'd finish, she'd offer some of hers. This selflessness and love obviously extended far beyond food. Where someone gets an endless supply of love, enthusiasm, admiration, and encouragement like that is beyond me.
- •She let me goDuring her mother's funeral, she said the greatest gift her mom gave her was letting go. She has since passed on that gift: I went to school in Boston, lived in Japan, now live in LA, and less and less get back to Oregon, where she lives. And yet, she's always been supportive of me, my pursuits, my desires, and my life. I can't imagine how hard it is to let your baby bird - your only child - leave the nest, but she's never once stood in my way. She's always helped me fly.