Friday, May 10, 2013


An Interview With My Mom

Hi Mom! A few years ago on my birthday you described some of your memories from the day I was born, in an email, and I don't think I told you, but I printed it out and carry it around with me in my wallet. Thank you — for the email, and for having me. Also I know I was big, so I especially appreciate that.

You were a fabulous baby — big and lovely, so you could sleep and feed more than smaller ones. Because you came 11 days after the due date, I had wondered whether nature was playing a joke on me, making me the only woman to be permanently pregnant.

Oh my god — I misread that as "feed on the smaller ones"!

Speaking of food, what would you want me to make for you if we were having dinner together tonight? I guess because I don't cook much, I'm curious what you'd like me to know.

My mother sauteed soft-shelled crabs for her birthday and mine, serving them on toast. Another treat was shad roe, floured, cooked quickly in butter, and topped with crossed pieces of bacon, also on toast. (They spatter if the egg sacks rupture, so you want to avoid that.) So rich but so delicious! Both dishes require lemon slices. Asparagus or fiddle-head ferns would taste great with either.

Do you remember the time I made a lemon meringue pie, which you used to love, and dropped it as I took off the pastry ring, burning my hand? You cried (age 3?), and I felt like it, too. But I scooped it onto a plate and we all enjoyed it anyway. Funny memory — crying over spilt pie.

I don't! But I'm glad we had it.

What would you tell your 30-year-old self? (Hypothetically, because if you could, everything would be different, etc. etc.)

I'd tell her she didn't have to be so careful of other people's feelings. I felt like everyone's caretaker at times. Being polite pays off, but I could have paid more attention to my own feelings instead of others'. Put another way, I'd have done well to value myself and my well-being as much as I valued other people and theirs.

I think I feared that others would leave me or not like/love me if I didn't fulfill their wishes. I didn't consider whether they valued me or whether I should value their wishes if they didn't value mine. Here I have in mind my parents and your dad, to various degrees, but others, too. Of course they all had their good points.

I also wish I'd told my 30-year-old self to wear sunscreen on the backs of her hands!

Do you think we have similarities that I haven't yet recognized? I hope to be more like you in ways that I am not yet.

I'm touched by this idea; you seem to be doing great as you are.

I'm sure you'll be a devoted mother and love motherhood as I do. For the first time — and in print! — I'll admit that I look forward to being a grandmother if you want to have children. I'll help!

I worry at times that you handle many tough things on your own, many because you have needed to, but perhaps some because you're in the habit and think you should. I'm not really thinking about plain independence, because that's important to have and exercise. I took on a certain amount by myself, I think because my dad conveyed the message that I should be independent — to a fault, proving it — because he was. Being divorced made me somewhat more independent, in good, freeing ways along with the "do-everything-because-you-have-to" kind. It also created friendships with other moms with daughters, which was great. Sometimes I worry that you think you need to be very tough about being independent, not letting me help. (Maybe I can't, but I'd like to listen more.) Interdependence is probably healthier. (I read about these things; I'm not so great at it myself!)

Mom! Thank you.

Did anyone give you tips, advice, or stories about parenting? Was any of it memorably good / bad?

I remember once telling someone that your messy room upset me. She had three older daughters and said that if you weren't drinking, doing drugs, in jail, or pregnant, things were good. That gave me perspective. I think I stopped complaining about the clothes on the floor. Someone else said making your lunch everyday instead of encouraging you to do it was fine; she may have said I could spoil you and you'd feel loved. Maybe I inferred that idea. I don't think you made any lunches; do you?

No! I'm sorry about that.

Don't be; I got to take care of you that way.

Also, thank you for reading The Hairpin — it's always made me so happy when you reference stories on here in emails. Maybe I'm getting a little sappy.

I've learned a lot — ways to think about things, to express them ("Worst. Title. Ever."). I learn about music I'd never know of. Lana Del Rey? Many others. What's with qream/qreem/whatever it is? Also tiny houses, open threads, the great readers — so supportive of one another, so funny — the thoughtful advice, etc., etc.

I taught my mom about Qream.

What's a horrible date you went on when you were younger?

So many. One with a guy who asked me at dinner, "Are you good at forgiveness?" I should have known not to go to the Scandinavian folk dance with him, but I did pretty well. He was . . . forgettable. What a terrible line for a first date. I'm suppressing other awful dates. There were great ones, too. :)

Oh jeez. Beware the Scandinavian folk dance?!

What's something you've done that I don't know about?

My parents, especially my dad, wanted me to become a doctor. I took pre-med courses with my English major but decided against it after having several dreams I interpreted as meaning that I'd missed my life. They involved having a child (you? myself? my life?) when I hadn't known I was pregnant. Surprise! My dad stopped talking to me for a few months after I decided against following my parents' career paths.

Maybe you knew that.

Taking LSD? On Topango Canyon in LA? Going to Disneyland stoned and imagining crawling out on a ledge of Space Mountain when I had a flash of fear? I told a boyfriend who wanted to smoke dope that I didn't want to be busted by my six-year-old, so he didn't smoke. More? I'm not telling . . .

Omg! Okay much more on this later. Anything you want to ask me?

Thanks — I need some time. How I can support you better, get you to exercise and de-stress more?

I love you, too, more than you may know until you have a child. I'm pretty sure you know it's a lot, though.

I do. And I love you, too. A lot. Thank you for this.

Photo via Flickr/aoisakana

60 Comments / Post A Comment

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

wait moms know how to email


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood
moms are already stalking you on the facebooks.
or maybe that is just me?

sarah girl

@truelove I am grateful every day that my mom watched The Social Network, decided she hates Mark Zuckerburg and everything he stands for and refuses to get on Facebook.


OMG this is amazing@v


Shad roe! Where is your mother from?

Edith Zimmerman

@noReally Bethesda, MD!


@Edith Zimmerman No way, that's where I'm from! I've never had shad roe or seen it to buy, I don't think.

electromotive force

It's a very bony fish, so many fishmongers don't carry it because deboning it requires tweezers, almost. It can also be slow-baked to dissolve the bones ("planked"). It's available in June and maybe now. Call around for roe, though!


@electromotive force Yeah, shad roe's the kind of thing that stays hidden behind the counter and offered to special customers. So good. Only thing my father cooks. If my child made me shad roe for Mothers Day I'd die of joy.


@Edith Zimmerman Bethesda?! Bethesda! Me too!

I hope I'm as great a mom from Bethesda as your mom from Bethesda is, some day.


@Edith Zimmerman YAY BETHESDA MOMS! I grew up in Bethesda/ Chevy Chase and reading this felt like being back home, surrounded by Bethesda moms. Including my own! Thank you both for a lovely piece.


Well this is adorable! Edith's mom! I'd like to know if she has any wisdom for other moms, obviously she did a great job!

crane your neck

This is wonderful. You have such a good mom, Edith!!


OMG Mama Z, you are wonderful! I wish you could have us all over for dinner of crabs and shad roe and tell us nice stories.

electromotive force

@Jinxie Wish I could . . . .


yes, you absolutely are!

I had been feeling grumpy that none of these Mother's Day posts, not even the one introduced as such, actually was written from the point of view of someone whose mother was no longer alive but sees Mother's Day arrive every year regardless willy nilly -- which I think is a bigger group of us than many suspect. But through some mysterious alchemy this interview made me feel better about all that. Maybe because probably Edith's mom knows what I'm talking about -- or if not, through good luck, then at least probably her mom's mom and her mom's mom's mom do. (unfortunately, of course -- them's the breaks).

honey cowl

My mom made my lunch too. Every day til I graduated high school. I cried on the last day, she left sweetest note in there.


@honey cowl Me, too! Except no note on the last day.


@honey cowl A little unrelated but: yesterday I was thinking that I fought with my mom a lot but didn't remember horrible things *I* said, bacause she said some pretty awful ones. So, I was feeling like, I Was The Good One. BUT your comment made me remember that on my first day of college she gave me a beautiful note (she's always communicated better in writing) and a necklace...and I bitched (not to her face) about the necklace being horrible. I'm probably The Horrible One.


Wait, you USED to love lemon meringue pie????

Also, your mom is awesome and I wish my mom had gotten stoned on Space Mountain in her wild youth.


@cosmia I'm almost certain my mom's got some stories of being stoned (at Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple concerts, for example), but I've never asked her about it. Maybe I'll use this as the icebreaker for Mother's Day dinner this year!


@jilt My mom apparently bounced on a trampoline at an Alice Cooper concert back in the day and I have a hard time believing she only got physically high...


@cosmia My mom used to "do mescaline and commune with the trees". And apparently decided to go to medical school while high on mescaline with her boyfriend when her airforce-pilot husband whom she married when she was 19 called her at her communal house in Seattle. She told him that he needed to buy her a car and help her through medical school.



@cosmia My mom told us over and over as teenagers that "being drunk isn't actually that fun" and that she "found parties were just as much fun when she was sober".

And in my mid-20's she confessed that before she had kids she "did every kind of drug that didn't need to be injected". And then made me promise not to tell my younger siblings.


Just to clarify, guys, my mom is the greatest but she was also a real boring teenager, basically the "married first boyfriend, scared of all other boys, hates dresses, loves puppies, Jane Austen-reading" kind. I have not only her word for it, but the word of her brother, my grandparents, and many of her cousins. She was a teenager in the 70s and didn't know what a bong was until she was 35! Bless.


Bah, this isn't even my mom, but now I am thinking about my mom and crying.


Lily Rowan

@PatatasBravas Right? I'm totally teary-eyed and about to forward this to my mother.


@Lily Rowan @PatatasBravas Yeah, what is that? WHY THE TEARY-EYES?

Oh, squiggles

Now we know where Edith gets her awesome.


@Absurd Bird I had a similar thought. This is so great!


There is something in my eye

Ragged But Right

@julia IT'S JUST A BIT OF DUST! DUST EVERYWHERE. Oh man. This is truly moving, and I am so glad about daughters and moms. Hiccup.


This is amazing! Thank you, Edith's mom, for raising the awesome person who's created this great community!


This is beautiful, Edith. A friend of mine just told me she encouraged her mother to tell stories into a tape recorder. This is like that, a way of preserving your mother, in this moment. Lovely!


If Edith's mom reads the site, does that means she's a commenter, too? Who is she?!


@Dancercise PSST: Edith's mom, you wanna party?!

(no kids allowed!)


@Dancercise She IS! She replied to my comment above and another one down below!!


@Jinxie Oh boy, now I feel like I should be on my good behavior.


@parallel-lines ME TOO


"I also wish I'd told my 30-year-old self to wear sunscreen on the backs of her hands!"

As someone who's well beyond 30, I stress, girls (and boys), this not a small thing. DO IT.


@Lu2 P.S. So sweet: "What's with qream/qreem/whatever it is?"


@Lu2 I have been careful for a long time about sunscreen on my face daily, and now I am having sudden anxiety about having missed the hands this whole time!




For a Mother's Day gift, I bought a journal thing that has question prompts and is intended to be filled out and then read by both mom and daughter. The questions don't all seem to be easy and light, but there's an instruction in the beginning that if someone doesn't want to discuss what they've written outside of that, then they can note that and it needs to be respected. Now, we had that same rule in family therapy when I was a kid but my mom would shout at me about things as soon as we left the therapist's office. But I'm still hoping this can be a positive if not always sunshine and rainbows experience that lets us know each other better and can even help heal some of the Bad Times Things between us.


Edith's mom, thank you for Edith!

electromotive force

@charmcity Thanks--my pleasure!

A. Louise

I now want to eat an entire lemon meringue pie with my mom. Such a lovely little chat!


Best. Interview. Ever. Hi, Edith's mom!

electromotive force

@OhMyGoshYouGuys Thnx. So. Much. :)

electromotive force

I am BEYOND proud of Edith--and the great community you all make.


@electromotive force We love her a lot! She made us what we are today. Well, Edith, and also Qream.


What IS with Qream?

I think if we all taught our parents about Qream, it would make the world a better place.


I sent this to my mom and she wrote back the SWEETEST email thanking me, saying that she totally identifies with everything Edith's mom said, and describing the day I was born and what I was like as a baby and now I am a puddle of mush. (I am the product of New England WASPs & non-drinking Irish Catholics, my parents don't emote or get sentimental EVER.)

I bet she's forwarding this to all her friends right now. Thanks for helping me bond with my mom, Edith & Edith's mom!


If Edith stepping away from editing the site results in her just popping in now and then with more stuff like this, then I truly believe that EVERYTHING WILL BE OK!

irma la douce

this is lovely and perfect and where did all these tears come from?!

Diana Bletter@twitter

I.LOVE.THIS. Now I see the wit and wisdom in the gene pool. Thanks, Edith, and your Mom. Happy Mother's Day from Diana Bletter (The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle)


This was so lovely and it made me love you even more. Your mom seems like a wonderfully supportive person. I hope my own daughter and I have an easiness like this when she is a grown up. Brava Edith!

Satoe Saja@facebook

I think if we all taught our parents about Qream, it would make the world a better place. Obat ambeien

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account