Ava Grace's Closet: On Mother's Day
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

On Mother's Day

On this, the year of my mother's 80th birthday, I've realized she is still stronger than I am; stronger than I may ever be. I can barely keep up with her.

My mother married the boy who would later become my father when she was just 23 and he a mere 19. They had my brother just a few years later; really just children themselves. My parents came to this country from Croatia via Germany when my brother was almost 12 years old making my mother 37. I could not imagine picking up and leaving everything I knew to move to an unknown country where I couldn't speak the language and knew only a handful of people.

Talk about courage. 
She hated it upon arrival. Like really hated it.
She always said their first goal was to save enough money to go back home.
It never happened.
Slowly but surely, they came to love their new country. The opportunities they had here would never have been available to them otherwise.
Coolest picture ever. Coolest pants ever. And apparently, a sale on white travel bags. 

My older brother Brian, a bubble and me in mama's belly
She was dreadfully sick with her first pregnancy twelve years earlier and hadn't planned on more children.
She had some kind of throat thing going on and oddly, the doctor recommended getting pregnant, saying that the change in hormones might help. Obviously, it didn't.

But here I am.

I inherited morning sickness from her. I, too, was ridiculously sick with each pregnancy. She would always tell me that she held half a grapefruit up to her face through most of the day to ward off that awful taste. If you experienced all day morning sickness, you know exactly what I mean. I never truly understood what she had gone through until I was pregnant myself.
My mom always worked. And kept the cleanest house known to man. Still does.
She irons jeans. Yup. She does.
But when I was born, she insisted on staying home. She had just been through too much in the years that she left my older brother with her own parents, while she and my father worked in Germany.
She walked me to school every day. I remember all of the other kids loving her. 
She was that mom.The one all of the kids loved. She still has that quality.
As I got older, I remember thinking she was so much older than the other moms.
And cooler. Way cooler.

I was bullied something awful in 5th grade.
And made myself physically sick because of it.
She knew something was up. Not sure how I ended up in a psychiatrist's office but I did; finally confessing the truth.
The very next day she marched right up to my bully.
You do not want to know what happened next. 
I was in a new school the following day.
There was no messing with me. Or more importantly, with my mama.

In the years that followed, we traveled to Europe yearly to spend summers with my maternal grandmother. This was my mom's only wish...to visit her own mom every year. So we went. Every year.
Life there was simple. 
Our time spent in a rustic house in a very small town.
It taught me a lot about what's important.
And to appreciate running water and an inside toilet. Totally separate story.
But know that I peed with chickens watching. Yes, yes I did.

My mom loves knitting, crocheting, cats and the cottage.
Not necessarily in that order.
And cooking. Or rather, feeding people.
She likes that a lot.
"Just eat" is her infamous slogan.
And feed you she will. Anytime. Anywhere.

It took me a lot of years to appreciate my mother.
She made me crazy on more than one occasion and I am sure I did the same to her.
But she is one of my favorite people.

The thought of losing her makes me cry instantaneously.
Mama the fashionista on the left, me with a goofy grin in Croatia in '81.
I love you mama.
Happy Mother's Day.


  1. love this post!! my mom still makes me crazy.. i have been with here 24-7.. was not with her for 10 years in my life. the important years.. making it up now. happy mother's day my friend!

  2. Interesting family story you have.

    I love spending time in Croatia. Have visited Istria twice, and will have to come back again someday.

  3. Great pictures! I love your mom's style in the pregnant photo. Shirt dress is great!

  4. Susan, that is so sweet! It's going to be one of my favorite post and I know I will revisit it... to remind myself how grateful I am too for my mom because we don't express feelings like that with each other. (another story!) She and my dad sacrificed everything they had to leave Cambodia and the killing fields... came over with 2 young children and one bag... that's all they had - everything else was burned during the communist take over and eventually traded off to get food for us... my heart aches for my dad who died in 1997 when I think about their love for my sister and I and the sacrifices they made.

    Happy Mother's Day Susan. Thank you for expressing your love so well here. My heart is full now this morning... I think I love your momma too! :) And yay for her for taking care of that bully! I'm sure you'd do the same for isabella and ava grace!

  5. Great photos - the first is unbelievable - it looks staged for a magazine ad maybe? Perhaps for the bags or those groovy pants?
    I think your mom will love reading this. what a beautiful tribute to her and a great mother's day gift!
    Leigh www.oneandoneequalstwinfun.com

  6. awesome photos! Happy Mother's Day and you look just like your daughters when you were young...and a side note, how awesome was your family's fashion sense?!?! =D

  7. I am in tears. She is one amazing woman and I love that she played the mama bear when you were bullied. I'd love to meet her and just sit and listen to her stories.
    I see where the fashion sense came from ;)

  8. such a sweet sweet sweet post!!! I too loved that she stood up for you!

    My great grandmother (who I had the privilege of knowing for 15 years) was from Poland and was always forcing food at me...lol..."come.eat."

    Love the photos!

    p.s. I like how you said she has the cleanest house known to man...that is my kind of girl :)

  9. What a lovely tribute to your mother. She sounds like on amazing woman!

  10. Susan... what a beautiful story of your mama and the coming of you. Way cool pics!! I especially love the picture of you all arriving at the airport. Peace.

  11. OMG Susan - that is PERFECTION!! I love it - and I love the pics!!! Now we know how you became such a little fashionista!!! Happy Mother's Day!!

  12. Awesome post..:) The perfect Moms day gift, I would say! I fell in love with your mom...and yes, pics are cool too!

  13. What an awesome Mother's Day tribute!!! I love these stories of your mom and family... what a special history!

    I had all day sickness with my pregnancies.... I know what that's like. But it was worth it!! :)

  14. this is the best mother's day post yet. what lovely words for your lovely mother. xo

  15. Really nice post...love the photos. I still learning to appreciate my mother, lol!

  16. Love this post...just catching up now! A beautiful mama and a beautiful family..XO Z

  17. what a lovely tribute to your mother. what a fun story to read, almost as fun as those pants!

    your mother reminds me of my grandmother, who raised me. she came from the azores (with my grandfather and their 6 children) when she was 36. so brave. she loves to feed people. the way to her heart is throuugh our stomachs.

    and morning sickness! oh, i know. but i say, "the sicker you are, the cuter the kids." i feel bad for women who don't get sick. :-)

  18. I love these photos! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story about your mother. So heartwarming!


I love reading every last one. Thanks so much for stopping by our little blog. xo.