When my young mother moved her little family to Rexburg, Idaho, to attend Ricks College Nursing School, she washed our clothes at a laundromat in the strip mall by Kmart. My favorite pants were chambray blue, dotted with multiple, mini Winnie the Pooh. Every time we did laundry, mom would pull those soft corduroys out of the dryer and hand them to me, before the rest of the load was done. I ran to the restroom and changed into my warm, woobie Winnie the Pooh magic pants. Every time.
I peed in those pants in school! There was five minutes to the bell. I begged and I begged to go to the bathroom. Miss Bailey told me I could hold it. She was wrong. With a big, wet bum, I ran down the stairs of Washington Elementary and climbed into our beat-up, army-green Monte Carlo. The good thing about that day was it was my turn at carpool. I got to show off my mom.
“Is your big sister in college?” my classmates asked, wide-eyed and admiring, on the first day of school.
“No,” I answered, “but my mom is.”
“That’s your mom?” I was the luckiest girl in morning Kindergarten.
My mom was so pretty. In adulthood, I would confront my own vanity and come to understand it… somewhat. As a child, I identified through my mother’s beauty. When mom got a job after graduation, my sister and I used to visit her there at the nursery in Madison Memorial Hospital. We loved the babies and Melanie liked lunch with mom, but I enjoyed it most when people asked which was our little brother or sister.
“Oh no,” I bragged, pointing. “That nurse is our mom!”
My mother was so pretty. I needed that for a long, long time.
I used to watch her do her make-up, hypnotized by her face. I remember sitting on her lap in the evening once, admiring how the pink on her cheeks sparkled in the setting sun.