My mom was the only person in my family who earned a bachelor’s degree. She earned a teaching degree from Glassboro State College (now known as Rowan University) in the 60s. My mom was married at 21, had my sister at 23 and my brother at 27. She returned to teaching in between both of their births.
My family moved from New Jersey to California in the late 70s and I was born in ’79 when my mom was 36. My parents separated the next year and were officially divorced in 1981.
Mom didn’t have a credential to teach in California, and my dad was a jerk who worked jobs under the table just to get out of paying alimony and child support, so there was a time when she worked three jobs at once just to make ends meet. (Hi, Dad!)
At first I spent a lot of time in daycare and then entered preschool when I was three-and-a-half. I remember when I was to start kindergarten, mom walked me to the school the Sunday before just to show me how to get from there to home all by myself. After school I let myself into our apartment and I felt special because I had my own key. (Remember, my brother is eight years older than me so at this time he was 13 and I was five. We always went to different schools.) Since my siblings were significantly older, and because I was a latch-key kid, I spent a lot of time by myself.
My mom was trained in early childhood education and knew it was important for my mind to be stimulated. We were poor, but the toys I did have always seemed to provide some educational value. I remember having some funky books and games from the ChildCraft series. (My memories can be summed up by this GeekDad blog post.) We also owned the whole ValueTales series. I remember loving these books so much that I would lay them all face-up on the floor and continually reorganize them by either the color of the book title, alphabetical order, or by the time period in which the character lived. (I think it was at this age when I developed some of my organizational obsessive-compulsive traits.)
My mom said it was important for me to learn about the world so she got us a subscription to National Geographic. We couldn’t afford to go anywhere but I loved studying the lines on fold-out maps (I still do). Actually, I attribute my great sense of direction to my early study of maps.
My mom is an artist. She had a huge tackle box of art supplies that I would get into it as much as possible. She painted all of the art in our apartment and would even paint the furniture. On the weekends we would sit at the kitchen table and both draw the same object from different angles. I remember her framing some my earliest drawings of a plant and two birds. I asked if I could give the drawing of the two birds to my dad. I don’t know how long he kept that drawing but I can tell you my mom kept the drawing of the plant until I was at least through high school. (And not to toot my own horn, but those were awesome drawings for a five-year-old.)
In 4th grade we moved from San Diego to LA and I didn’t know anyone. A former Girl Scout, Mom got me involved in a local troop; Troop 645, Los Angeles County. Girl Scouts was how I made all my friends in LA. Actually, my first journal was a diary with Snoopy on the cover that I got from one of my friends in the Girl Scouts.
Mom discovered that I liked music and she bought me a tiny little keyboard that played a cheesy cover of Yankee Doodle as it’s demo song. I loved it. I rocked that keyboard all the time. At school I was in the choir and mom signed me up for an after school song and dance class. I didn’t dance, but I liked the singing.
In 7th grade I started playing violin in the school orchestra and had piano lessons at home. I loved everything music, and mom supported it all.
We moved to northern California before high school. I joined the marching band and played the xylophone, marimba and vibes. At some point I got a wild idea that I wanted to go full-on percussion and mom got me a (really great) drum set for my 15th birthday. It was lavender with a light metal flake–so cool for a chick in the mid-90s. (Not quite like this pic, but similar.)
Of course, as a drummer’s mom you have to be the cool mom, and she let all my friends play at our house. I remember at one point mom gave up the master bedroom just so I would have more space for drums (and amps) in my bedroom.
In my junior year mom bought me an acoustic guitar, and during my senior year she bought me an old station wagon so I could drive myself to play shows with my band.
Mom was 53 when I graduated from high school. Throughout my senior year she plotted her move to Colorado (she was so over California at that point). Mom moved me into an apartment in midtown Sacramento just three days before my high school graduation, and then she moved to Colorado the day after I was done with school.
When she left I asked her what classes I should take in college. She told me to not make any decisions about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and encouraged me to experiment as much as possible. She told me to find something that I loved to do so I would never have to work a day in my life.