I had the benefit of being raised by three women. Each with differing personality traits, strengths and expectations. The only thing they had in common was love and commitment, to my sister and I.
My parents married very young. My mother, Deeann, was a mom by age seventeen and a
divorcee with two small kids, by age twenty four. We lived in the same town my Aunt Resi and my Dad and stepmom, Alice.
Deeann was driven by her desire for education and knowledge. She worked her way up from the secretarial pool to management, by hard work and determination to make something of herself. She worked full time and went to night school for more than fifteen years, eventually earning her masters degree. From her I learned about the power of dedicating yourself to a goal, and that a person could achieve anything they set their mind to. Education was respected and valued. Meals at Moms were hot dogs, pork and beans and bologna sandwiches. She never liked to cook, she would rather be reading.
Deeann was away at school or work much of the time, and she relied heavily on my Aunt Resi. Most mornings we were dropped off at Aunt Resi’s house still asleep and in our pj’s. After breakfast we would be ushered out the door for school. She was always there when we got home. Resi was a “no nonsense” German, firm yet loving and kind hearted. It was not unusual to share the dinner table with strangers in her home. She would often invite people over that she had met that day, while in line at the store, especially at the holidays. She thrived on taking care of others. The voice in my head that helps me make good decisions has always been a short, blond German woman. This conscience also carries carries a wooden spoon, used to dispense common sense with a quick whack on the backside.
Weekends and summers were spent with my stepmother Alice and my Dad. Alice was a
housewife and creative homemaker. Once we spent an entire day moving all of the furniture out of the front room and turned it into an the inside of the I dream of Jeannie bottle. We made costumes to wear, fitting the theme. I can still picture the stunned look on my dads face when he walked in the door from work!
Alice taught us to cook, bake, sew, and do a variety of needlework. We each had one night a week that we had to plan the menu, make the grocery list, help shop, then prepare the meal and clean up, all with minimal supervision. Alice made heirloom quality crochet projects and had a proclivity to swearing while working on them. She and my father have been married for fifty-five years, are stellar examples of how to treat your mate with love and respect.
Deeann, Alice and Resi were all “my mom. “ Each woman contributed to making me the person that I am, there is a little of each of them in me. I have Deeann to thank for having earned my bachelor’s degree, my enthusiasm for being a lifelong student and a voracious reading habit.
I owe my compassionate nature, my work ethic, and my love of German food to Resi.
Alice has shown me how to be a loving partner and taught me to cook. I also have her to thank (blame?) for my love of yarn and my potty mouth!
I was blessed by this unconventional upbringing, and by the women who loved me, as much as I loved them.