Mi Mamacita… Can’t Live Without That Woman

my mama my friend

At age thirteen… and so on and so forth…it would have pained me to admit it, but it’s so true.  My mom is indeed now, and always has been … my best friend.  Yes, today is her birthday, so it’s cliché for me to say something like that, but seriously, I mean look at us…

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I’m her mini-me.  I know it.  And yes, the immature adolescent in me that wants to be “unique and original” still rolls her eyes when people stop me on, what is literally a daily basis, to say how much I look like my mother. But I have to admit, it’s a compliment.  I mean, my mom’s a babe.  Just look at her.

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I know, right?  And she hasn’t aged.  Seriously. The woman is timeless.  It’s some kind of freakish phenomenon.  What I don’t think she’ll ever understand is how amazing she really is.  Let’s just start with her talents.  Most people know her for her impeccable work as a director. But before I get into that, I have to mention that my mom was the best darn actress that had ever hit the stage.  I can say that ‘cuz she’s my mama, but I’m pretty sure that if any of you had the pleasure of witnessing her ON the stage, you’d agree.  She can be so vulnerable, so graceful, so powerful, and sooooo funny! Truly, she could get a crowd rollin’, and director’s loved her!  It’s no wonder why she wanted to be director herself.  She made it easy for them.  But, after playing around with her acting chops all her life, she took what was a really hard time for our family and turned it into an opportunity to live out a dream of hers.  When I was about 7 years old, she became a single mom, went back to school (taking me with her for her night classes), and started working full time as a director.  Why not?  She has been directing plays since the early 80’s, and has now consistently worked as a drama teacher and director at St. Paul’s High School since 1987 and has never ceased to wow a crowd and pack a house.  What she can get those kids to do is nothing less than professional. I know because I’ve been there at her feet, growing up in that theater when my mom was doing her thing with my brothers acting in the plays while I was running barefoot backstage, on stage and everywhere in between.  And I have never left, really.  I danced, acted and sang my little heart out on that stage, and wept in my last performance when I graduated. But, I came right back. It was a no brainer.  I came back to design costumes and choreograph at her side, dragging my kids along for the ride to be little theater rats just the same.  Boy, do they soak it up!

(check out this little gem of my Firecracker “helping Grammie direct” just like I did.

Talk about deja vu.  Doesn’t get better than that)

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What’s more important, is that she does it all for God.  She has a knack for tying a faith-filled message into every show, leaves no scene or line unturned to make sure that all would be pleasing if the good Lord sat himself right down in the audience.  Which, if you’ve had the blessing to be a part of her shows, you can feel that He’s there.  He’s in her, and she makes sure that when you leave, He’s in YOU, too.  With Mother Mary and her Immaculate Heart, my mom’s model, guide and closest confidant looking out over the crowd and praying for every cast, crew and audience member whether they like it or not, always at her side.  Yup, Our Lady’s picture has remained framed and mounted above the light booth since my mom stepped her foot into that building and she ain’t takin’ it down.  That’s right.  My mom doesn’t take “No” for an answer. If ever you were a part of her youth group, worked in any kind of ministry or retreat with her, gone on one of the many pilgrimages that she has led, you know that if my mamacita thinks God wants you to do something, She’s gonna get you to do it.  She cannot be refused.  She is one very holy woman, and she has a direct line to God.  I’m sure of it.  (I know this because 1) she lives in the adoration chapel down at the end of her street and 2) I’m sure that’s where God would tip her off as to my whereabouts each time she busted and grounded me for something I was doing regularly when I wasn’t supposed to! Sheesh!)

nothing more powerful than her prayers

 And now, as a mother myself,  I can call her over and over AND OVER again and thank her for all that she did to put up with me, and apologize profusely for being such a punk (especially when I know it’s all coming back to me.  The mischief and “fire” is in the eyes of my children as well.  Most are very well behaved when necessary, but don’t let them fool ya, especially one in particular. Hmmmm….I won’t mention who, but the primary culprit just might be pictured in a previous “deja vu – theater” pic). I also make it a habit to call to laugh, or cry with her when she simply laughs and shrugs her shoulders when I ask her for advice.

“I don’t know, Elise? It’s a strong gene.  It was passed down to me by my grandmother, I passed it on to you, and now look at all the little people you’ve passed it on to.  I’m here to help, but also to enjoy it!  Have fun!” -Mom

So, her answer to the big question of what to do?  Normally, it’s just, “You’ll figure it out.”  She claims she never quite figured me out. I have no idea what she’s talking about…

(HaHaHa… check out these fun picks of what was supposed to be “a phase”)

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My purple Mohawk wig circa 1984??, as a mad scientist, My mom, clearly the hottest gypsy fortune teller ever. (She kinda looks like me with my beanies now, huh?)

—and now–

rocker mom and me elise angelette 125 elise angelette 127

(aaand just a few weeks ago, with my REAL Mohawk, at my head shaving party. Mom, rooting me on)

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Thanks, Mom, for always being at my side.  For always giving me the advice that there’s no answer “in the books”.  Thanks for believing that no person is or should be like anyone else (no “cookie cutter” kids in our family and we like it that way!) and appreciating each and every unique quality about people, whether or not we might make you crazy!  Thank you for always, always, always being so darn proud of me and my brothers, our spouses, our kids, and our vocations, and seeing the best in us at every moment… to a fault (I seriously could have tried to fly because my mom made me think I could).  Thank you for teaching us to “not cry over spilled milk” and to be strong and “do what we gotta do when we gotta do it”!  Thank you for finding faith when our family had no faith, and gripping on to it for your life, through every storm like it was your job.  Because it was, and you embraced it fearlessly, because you knew God had your back.  And now, more than ever,  I can see that that is rooted so deep in me and it is because of you and your rock hard faith, Mamamia!

clolthed with strength laughs without fear of future

When I received my diagnosis of breast cancer, just 2 months ago and counting, I asked you to be “my shadow”, the other “mommy” in the house.  I wanted consistency for my kids, and I wanted you to be that person that did what I did when my kids came home every day when I knew I couldn’t.  You’ve adjusted everything to be the carpool and homework lady, the extra hand in the house for dinnertime, bathtime and bedtime, and anything and everything in between.  As a fellow mother,  I can’t imagine what it means to have your daughter say she has cancer.  So I know that you NEED to be here.  But as your daughter, you’re pain in the butt, stubborn daughter who doesn’t hug too long or talk “mushy” outloud much because I’ve never been much for what I call “Hallmark moments“,  I gotta let you know that I’m so glad to have you here every day and don’t know what we’d do without you.

never too old for mommy

You are some kind of bionic wonder woman and I hope everyone is really right. 

I hope I really am just like my mom.

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define mother

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Happy Birthday

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THE DUDE: He Makes Me, He Breaks Me … Mother – Son Lovin’

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Yup, I’m smitten. Look at my face, this guy completely melts me..  Well, there’s two of them actually….

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…. yeah, I’m in for it.  But that little one. The Dude, he really knows how to get me these days.

August 7th was my big official diagnosis of the big “B.C.”, Breast Cancer.  We explained it well to the kids.  We told them how everyone’s story was different, like snowflakes. We talked about how we’d take everything one step at a time and walk with God as He opened the doors He wanted to be opened and so far, He was opening some pretty cool doors for us.  The kids were with us.  The Dude, with his big hazel-green puppy dog eyes, was with me.  All until he raised his hand and asked the dreaded question, “Mommy, will you lose your hair?”  (Gulp. Double gulp.  Deep breath. Come on Holy Spirit, give me a hand on this one! I need you now!) 

Looking around the room, all of their big eyes (Until this moment, I always knew my kids had some big eyes, but today, wow.. they were whoppers!) were all on me, not even blinking waiting for my answer like their life depended on it.  “Yes.  Yes, Guys,  I’m going to lose my hair.  All of it.  But,  I will always always still be the same Mommy.”  That’s when they hit the floor.  Bawling crying!  But ya know who cried the most, the Dude.  My one and only son.  We quickly pulled up the website to my friend, Angelle’s,  ChemoBeanies site and showed them how beautiful she was before and after with her gorgeous locks and all the amazing beanies I can start new fashion trends with.  That sent the girls off shopping online and redirected them quickly.  It held off my son for a bit, but now, when people ask me, “How are your kids doing with everything?” I don’t know if he has ever really overcome it, the whole hair thing, that is.

 He seemed to be okay that day.  He found some peace in looking at the website with everyone.   He had fun with my many haircuts and mohawk rocker-do for a bit during our dance parties, etc.  We made the most of it and he was right there with me rockin out his own moves like it was his job! He’s got the moves like Jagger!  He has been doing phenomenal in school, has had playdates, making friends, and let me tell ya the ladies are lovin him this year! To quote my little man, “Chicks dig me, Mom.”  Whew!  Not so sure I’m ready for that?  In fact, he’s so “cool” that he refused a kiss and hug from me when I was actually well enough to go to a b-day lunch at school last month!!!  He’s 6!!!!  That’s grounds for a Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, “Really??”

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Big Deal, right? What does lack of public affection and first grade girlfriends have to do with the grand scheme of me and my little man’s well being in the midst of our current chaos?  Well, to me, lately, in my roller coaster of emotions…. EVERYTHING!  Like a typical woman, I had found myself hanging the hook of my needy little desire to feel attractive even in the eyes of my littlest crush, a tiny little first grade stud of a guy, my only son.   Talk about “Mommy Dearest“, right? I’m such a freak! Poor kid. Sheesh. (Hanging my head in shame)

My daughters come home bursting at the seams, totally devouring up the whole “true beauty” thing”, practically knocking me over with their book bags to hug me and tell me how beautiful they think I am!  They are amazing. While my son is the last one in each day, dragging his backpack on the ground; complaining about a piece of candy that he lost; how much homework he has to do; or who said what to him on the playground that day as he walks. right. past. me.  Who is this kid and what did he do with my Dude?  Where’s the kid that loves me to the moon and back and blows me kisses every night?  Sigh….

Then it hit me.  Maybe it’s not just that he’s 6.  I mean, he is.  But, he’s also a super intelligent, highly creative, very, very, very, deep thinker.  In other words, something’s brewing in that mind of his.   To quote ol’ “Bev” from “The Goldbergs“, “There’s a storm brewin in ya, and I’m not leaving til it passes!…. Somebody needs a sugar shower!!!” No worries, I held back, my urge to go total “Bev” on him and smother him with embarrassing raspberries and kisses.  I played it cool and… barehugged and  squeezed him till he peed in his pants let it all pan out his way, in his timing.  But it was haaaaarrrrrrdddd!!!  (insert kicking and whining on the floor)

I literally prayed all weekend for patience, and for the intercessions of St.Jude, patron saint of impossible cases, as well as St.Monica who prayed and prayed AND PRAYED SOME MORE for her son St.Augustine when he was not in the best of ways.  Not that my 6 year old son was in such dire straights, but I needed a momma to talk to and St.Monica was listening.  I just needed him to come to me on his terms, when he was ready.  I knew that he was struggling with me and my bald head. Rockin’ a multicolored mohawk was cool and all, but going skinhead was a whole different ball of wax.  So, when I was not feeling well yesterday, and we all sat around watching the Saints game (WHO DAT! Geaux Saints!!),  I couldn’t take the beanie on my head any longer.  My stomach hurt, my head hurt, my skin hurt.  I ached all over. So I curled up in a ball on the lazy boy chair, still wanting to be with my family, in my black and gold attire, but bald as a baby and sound asleep through the whole stinkin game.  What a fan, huh?

That’s when the real magic of the saints happened.  And I’m not talking about those on the field.  I mean those interceding for me up above.  While I was sleeping,  I kept feeling a little hand reach from behind my chair and gently touch my bald, fuzzy head.  I’d peek out but they were gone.  Back to sleep.  Then again, this time, it was more of a gentle rub from side to side, still the owner of the hand was reaching, to be unseen, from behind my chair, ducking back behind after each touch.  I’d peek again, but nope, all gone!  Again, the little footsteps had run away.  This would be a common thing for the girls to do, but their voices could be heard upstairs, playing legos together, uninterested in the game, in full girl mode in their room.  This had to be the Dude!  Finally, one more touch with both hands that ended with… a kiss!  I kept my eyes closed this time, trying to hide my smile and the tear that was trying to burst from my eyelid.  Thankfully, I held it together long enough for him to sneak up and over the arm rest and under my blanket, wrapping his arms around me.  And just like that, with a kiss on my cheek, he snuggled in with me to whisper to who he thought was a sleeping mommy, “Mommy, I love you and you’re the prettiest girl in the whole wide world.”

That’s all I needed.  That’s all I ever needed.  To be loved for who I am.  For my true beauty inside.  It really is what’s inside that counts and he saw it.   Even if it is my little 6 year old son.  Especially because it’s him.  I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.  He didn’t have to.  And I kept reminding myself that he didn’t need to.  I can’t hang my expectations and emotions on my children.  None of us can.  But when God gives us those sweet little gifts of healing, for us this time, it was for both him and for me… it was sweet sweet rain.  That’s the only way I can explain it.

It was just like sweet sweet rain.

And, guess what? He crawled back in my bed at 5am today to say it all over again, and I didn’t mind a bit!

So how’s my son doing? He’s doing just fine, I think.  And, by the way, so am I. So am I.

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