Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Cool Mom

Growing up, it's all about you. Our parents bathed us as babies, taught us to tie shoes, braided our hair for school and sent us off with a kiss. It's no wonder we have a warped perception of who Mom and Dad are, since each year, each day — each moment, their overarching objective was to ensure our health and happiness.

In my mid-twenties, I thought I'd left that somewhat selfish relationship behind, but while home for Thanksgiving, revelations annihilated that notion. There will always be stories parents keep from kids, but I surely should have known my mom was once a small-town celeb:

The Proper Palate broadcast weekly on a local channel. Mom commented on the nutritional value of healthy recipes while a home economist cooked live. On the radio, she hosted a gig covering nutritional issues and fielded callers' questions. The purpose of her newspaper column "Nutrition Briefs" was to convey reliable nutrition information about trendy topics. 

The discovery of Mom's media enterprises sent me on a small scavenger hunt, and I found a few enlightening newspaper clippings. That they were preciously preserved emphasized my juvenile self-absorption and embarrassing naivety.

I realized I knew just a couple of countless layers. I knew she majored in dietetics and started her career as a writer, but didn't appreciate what she worked on was Mayo Clinic's first consumer subscription newsletter. When I was 11, she and my dad went to Versailles. I understood it was for "work," but didn't register that the Mayo Clinic/Williams-Sonoma joint effort, for which she was Mayo Clinic Editor, was being honored as the world's best health cookbook. 

It's this, now, that makes her a "cool" mom, more than when letting me highlight my hair and occasionally drink diet Coke substantiated that status. 

As a daughter, I objectively realize I'm a huge part of my parents' lives. But not the only part. I think being aware of this makes me respect mine more, and aspire to more. 

If you haven't, find out who really your mom and dad are and acknowledge their accomplishments — beyond you. Mom, I may have surpassed you in stature and matched your style sensibility. But on other levels, I still have some catching up to do. And I'm betting I always will.

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