I love to tease my mom for all her distinct mannerisms and personality quirks. And her general response is to remind me that the joke’s on me because I share pretty much all of them. I haven’t lived in the same state (or country) as my family in seven years so when we do get together, we have to make up for lost time.
Luckily, my mom is a good sport and tolerates all my sarcasm. I am fairly certain I will continue to harass her for the rest of my life because that’s just our relationship. The same goes for my brother and my cousins. But if anyone outside the family tries to make fun of us, we turn into a band of attacking hyenas. Like the saying goes; blood is thicker than water.
I want to record these things while they’re fresh in my mind. I am fully aware that someday, this will all come full circle and Lena will be the one rewriting this list with my name as the subject. But here are just a few signature Laila-isms:
• The Chocolate Addiction. My mom barely weighs 100 pounds, is in amazing shape, and goes to the gym religiously. However, she consumes enough chocolate to sustain a 500 pound man. She brought me three bars of Seattle chocolate as a gift; I ate two bites of it before it disappeared into the bermuda triangle of her hands.
• The Coffee Addiction. The first time Big Laila visited us in North Carolina, we quickly realized that we needed to keep the house stocked with coffee at all times. She almost ran out of Starbucks Via packets and the panic in the air was palpable. On her next visit, we got smart and had the Keurig set up (thanks to my super generous in-laws; love you guys!). However, my mom decimated our stash of pods with little effort. So this time, I was prepared. I purchased a reusable K-cup and bought the strongest coffee I could find. Success! However, I think I’ll be picking coffee grinds out of my kitchen for the unforeseeable future. Also, since I only owned 3 coffee cups, my mom went out and doubled my stock. I’m actually pretty excited about that and have quite enjoyed drinking hot chocolate out of my new Union Jack mug.
• Inability to follow a movie plot. This is just ridiculous. My mom admitted that my dad refuses to watch movies with her because of this very issue. We were watching Austin Powers (to learn about British culture, obviously) and somehow, my mom thought Austin Powers was trying to seduce his own daughter. I’m just as confused as you, I promise. Part of the problem is that she suffers from cinema-induced narcolepsy. I don’t think she’s ever stayed awake for an entire movie so I’ll give her a little leeway here. Also, she gets characters mixed up. For example, I asked if she wanted to watch Austin Powers and she commented that he was a really great actor and she liked his movies. She also enjoyed films starring Nicholas Sparks. Ok, truth be told, I’m guilty of this one, too.
• Scandi-radar. We watched quite a few movies during my mom’s visit because of the weather and her jet lag. She fell asleep during A Mighty Wind yet miraculously awoke just long enough to hear a reference to Swedish culture before falling asleep again. I’m confident she couldn’t tell you much about the storyline but she’ll know that someone mentioned a Volvo and hammered dulcimer. I have to out myself here, too, as my Scandi-radar is on high alert at all times. We had lunch at the sweetest little shop in Newmarket and I realized our waitress was Swedish. So we ended up chatting with her in Norwegian and I was pretty excited to find that there are other Scandinavians in this area.
• Decorator’s touch. No matter how nice or clean I think my house looks, once my mom gets here and starts working her magic, she makes it look a million times better. The woman can clean, organize and decorate a house better than anyone I know. I sometimes joke that I grew up in a carefully curated museum and it’s not far from the truth. Our house was always included in local home tours and people would come from all over the Northwest to see it.
• Over the top Generosity. It never fails that when my mom comes to visit, she ends up leaving me with new clothes, new decorations for my house and some special gift that she’s either made or passed down to me from my grandma. My house is filled with weavings made by my mom and aunt, wood carvings by my grandpa and rosemaled furniture painted by my dad. The majority of these things were gifted to me by my mom and are by far the nicest things I own. She also seems to find gifts perfectly suited for the recipient. Lena has started showing an interest in watching the birds on the back porch, so my mom helped her set up her own feeder. I think these are the sweetest pictures of the two of them working together.
My mom is pretty hilarious in her own special way and thankfully, she tolerates my incessant sarcasm. Maybe someday we’ll live in the same state again if the military sends us back to Washington. Imagine – my house would be clean, organized, and expertly designed and I’d have an infinite supply of chocolate and coffee!