Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ahead of her time

More & more, as I browse the internet, troll Pinterest (no, I still don't have an account... not that I'm bitter or anything), and follow various blogs, I realize that the mother of my youth was a visionary. She was light years ahead of her time. She was an organic, sewing, frugal domestic goddess that many modern women only dream of becoming today.

Most of my clothes were home-sewn. Christmas dresses, skirts, blouses, corduroy pants, leggings, swimsuits, you name it. One year she sewed my ballet slippers, the elastic was rainbow. Everyone was jealous. I just wanted regular ballet slippers.  My sister and I had coordinating outfits and since I am 4 years older, I wasn't always thrilled about the whole matchy-matchy homemade outfit thing. Of course, mom and I had matching outfits as well. We wore them when we visited boutiques to sell her shell belts. 

As we did, we drove around in this. Except ours was blue and had a heart painted on the front tire.

Of course, all I wanted was a pair of Guess jeans and an ESPRIT sweatshirt. I knew we were weird. We lived in California. You have to REALLY be different to stand out when you live 2 hours from Los Angeles.

I grew up in the 80s. Not the hippie 60s or groovy 70s where you would expect someone to tote their kids in a VW bus or make their own clothes. No, the 80s were the decade of indulgence. The decade of wealth and of greed. Of designer jeans and Gunne Sax. But not for us.

We belonged to the food co-op, run by a woman who wore Birkenstocks and no bra (funny how I remember those details). I drank soy milk and Kefir instead of cow's milk until I was in the double-digits. We ate "ice milk" instead of ice cream, ate protein bars instead of candy bars, sprinkled flaxseed on our no-sugar cereal and added wheat germ to our carob cookies. I did not eat a snack cake or drink Kool-Aid until I was an adult.

My siblings & I took tons of vitamins. And by "take" I mean I would dump most of them down the sink when mom wasn't looking. Especially the homemade ones. Did you know you could make your own vitamins? Mom would buy the herb or crushed form of vitamin and fill empty capsules, or roll them with dissolvable vitamin paper. Those were particularly disliked by my sister and I... not sure why. We typically had 12 or so various vitamins & supplements sitting by our juice glass each morning. 

When we had a hint of a cold, mom would give us a clove of garlic smeared with peanut butter. Natural peanut butter, of course. We would make it ourselves in the machine at the health food store. No sugar added! I begged for Jif. Never happened. 

I can honestly say that I never remember being truly sick during all of my childhood. That came much later. In college. Ahem. The only way to stay home from school was to fake it, and then I would have to eat the garlic. Finally, I just gave up and went to school. It wasn't worth it. Trust me, the garlic stays with you for a long time. 

My mom tells me that my nursery was decorated with homemade decor, scarves from India and a sheepskin rug. Ahead of her time, I tell you.

When I left home, I departed from her healthy, frugal ways. I ate white bread, shopped at the mall and didn't take a single vitamin for years. After my children we born I saw the wisdom in her choices. In the years since, I have come to appreciate and emulate some of her ways.

Now, 25 years later, blogs are devoted to sewing - everything from home decor to their children's clothes. And it's chic. The shell belt picture above is a current Etsy listing. Mom's were a bit more intricate, but I'm sure someone would totally rock one today. And receive a ton of compliments.

DIY is everywhere - and people are proud, not embarrassed to use and re-use what they have. I wanted a white bookshelf in my room. Instead I go this: 

Would be totally cool in some artist loft today.

Women now brag about saving money with coupons, posting their savings on Facebook, when I can clearly remember wanting to hide when mom disputed the price on the fruit leather in the shopping cart. 

Lifestyle blogs include the best organic, natural... well, everything. Clothing, cleaning products, skin care, food. The list goes on. My friends had Capri Suns and fruit snacks in their lunches (yes, I remember when both of those first showed up), I had 100% pineapple juice and raisins.

I would have never dreamed in a million years that my childhood routines would be what many mothers strive for today. I am not nearly as healthy, frugal or creative as she was. But I did make homemade laundry detergent tonight. Mom should be proud.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally enjoyed your post. You should post more often. I know, busy life, busy wife. I so enjoy your writing. Loved your Christmas letter too!! Michelle Carlson