Monday, March 8, 2010

Oh Mama...

After my mother took a fall recently and had to be hospitalized, I immediately bought a ticket home to Ohio. I knew I wanted to be there to help her around the house once she was allowed to go home. But, I also knew this visit would be a bit of a challenge, not just for me but for my mom, too. 

My mom and I are opposites. She drives a Jag. I drive a 12-year-old Subaru. She likes Couture. I like Old Navy. She wears Oscar De La Renta sunglasses. Mine come from The Dollar Store. While challenging, I figured the trip would help us bond in ways we hadn’t before.

But less than 24 hours after my arrival home it was clear this was going to be a trying experience for me. I learned there’d be a dinner party at the house with about fifteen guests, all paying their regards to my Mom. In Lebanese terms this means I was expected to put on my nicest outfit and snaz up my hairdo. Coming from Portland, the nicest outfit I’d brought with me was a pair of jeans and a cool red jacket decorated with zippers and belts. From the look on my mom’s face I knew I’d have to make a trip to the mall to search for a dinner party dress. 

It’s been about 20 years since I left home for college and the real world, and it had been a bit of a scandal that I was allowed to do such a thing. Traditionally, a Lebanese girl stays home until she marries. But not this Lebanese girl. I wanted to experience life, and thankfully I had parents who supported this spirit of mine. But as I waited for my mother’s guests to arrive I braced myself for that question that always pops up: “Why aren’t you married yet?” It didn’t take long. One woman, about my age, asked me, in front of everyone, when they would see me in a white dress.’ 

        “I had one on a couple of hours ago at Dillard’s. It was a cute little cocktail dress that I thought would look awesome with my long black boots,” I answered quickly and honestly.

A part of me was glad that this question, and questions like “Why do you always live so far away?” don’t really faze me. As time passes and I live farther away from home, the more I appreciate my culture, my people, and all our quirks. And while the differences between my mother and I still exist and will probably never fade, it occurs to me that the very differences that used to rankle my mother and me are now the traits that we admire about each other. I think my mom admires my dogged determination to live life on my own terms, eschewing the more traditional path my life could’ve taken. And I admire my mother’s sense of style and polish.

So there was more than a little irony when I discovered my mom lounging around in her silk PJ’s while I drove around doing her errands in her shiny silver Jaguar and wearing her Oscar de la Renta sunglasses. And, hey, that’s one role reversal I’m happy to live with.


  1. Love this post! Interesting to see how different cultures do things. Plus, you have a very funny way of talking about it. Love it!

  2. Hey Thanks. I say being around my family makes for some funny stories! :)