To celebrate Mother’s Day, the Jezebel staff is sharing photos of our mothers, as well as a few words on what makes them the best, the worst or the craziest. Whether they did right by us or let us down, our moms found a way to shape us into who we are and we’re here to celebrate that, whatever it may mean. We invite you to do the same.
Here are the Moms of Jezebel, in all their motherly glory.
“My mother is smart, cool, unendingly generous and, like many women her age, more ambitious than her life has allowed her to act upon. Growing up in the Philippines, she had something like ten dogs, a couple of goats, a rooster. My dad, who met my mom in high school, immediately liked the way she was with animals—it was that, he said, and how well she could dance.”
“I’m the oldest of three, and the dresses my sister and I are wearing in this picture were handmade by my mother. She also custom made her own wedding dress, my sister’s wedding dress, and countless other outfits for my siblings and I, many of them matching (my brother, I believe, has made off with an infamous photo of the two of us in thematically matching sailor suits). When I was a scrawny 15-year-old, she tailored a size 0 celery green suit we found on a clearance rack at the Macy’s in the Mall of America so I’d have something nice to wear to Future Homemakers of America conventions.
We didn’t have much money and both of my parents worked full-time (except for when she went back to college and got her teaching degree when she was pregnant with my sister) but she always found time to keep busy with her hands in her free time— sewing, gardening, cooking, and fixing things around the house. In recent years, she’s taken up running, gone back to grad school, and become a disturbingly ardent supporter of the Minnesota Twins. She is the very embodiment of I Don’t Know How She Does It.”
-Erin Gloria Ryan
“Here is a photo of my mom last year with my Tía Josie wearing an ironic ‘SABOR LATINO!!!!!!’ apron, while making enchiladas. I love my mom so much because she did everything for me growing up, as well as being funny as hell. Also, clearly opinionated, as the hand gesture may connote.”
-Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
My mom is the woman who will sit next to you on an airplane and get your life story out of you without you even realizing it. She visited New York recently and I went into Manhattan to meet her for dinner. She’d been in the city for approximately 27 minutes total, but as we left her hotel and rounded a corner I heard two people yell out her name. It was two young hipsters I’d never seen before. She introduced me as if they were old friends and they’d heard about me for years; they caught up and chatted about their evening plans as I stood by, wondering who the hell they were. After we parted ways she explained that they worked in the hotel and she’d met them no more than a half hour before. Later, at dinner, she showed our bemused waiter photos of her garden on her phone and explained how to make his tomato plants flourish. My mom is a force of life. I love her for her endless curiosity and creativity.
Here she is in the late ‘70s in her natural state: being a goofball. May you one day have the pleasure of sitting next to her on a plane.
My mother is, beyond doubt, the most inspiring person I know. Things haven’t always been easy for her—she had a difficult childhood, has been independent since she was a teen, and lived more of a life by the time she was 25 than I probably will in a lifetime. She raised me to always know that I was loved, that I was smart, that I was worth something. Her level of kindness and empathy is so great that I’ve yet to see it matched in another person. In the fall of 2014, after decades of working as a house cleaner, she completed graduate school and is now starting a new career as a therapist. I am so proud of her.
She is my best friend, my hero, and my idol. Not to mention, she is also hilarious.
“This is my mom Marilyn in her school uniform in Guyana, in South America, where we’re from. I was 2 years old when she and my dad brought my sister and I to America, with only a grocery cart full of stuff that she, magically because she’s magic, turned into a nice American life, with a pool and a fence and fake grass that they made us water on weekends. She shares many of my Jezebel posts on Facebook and I guess I share some of her traits, but really only a tenth of her strength. I still think she works too much.”
So, here’s my mom and I at Mother’s Day brunch last year (Bloody Mary: all her).
We’ve had our share of ups and downs for sure—and it wasn’t until adulthood, about eight years ago, that I was able to stop wishing I had one of those Judy Blume moms who served as a mandatory BFF and begin appreciating her for what makes her, her: telling it like it is—and not sugarcoating to soften the blow—and an incredible ability to improvise when shit gets tough, but also, not settling for second best.
“My mom worked for over thirty years as a public school elementary teacher, and I often find myself wondering if any of her countless students realize how lucky they were to have her. It was incredible, and often unbelievable, to watch her show as much love and attention to her own children as she gave the ones in her classroom, year after year. Those kids were hers, if only for eight hours a day, and she made it her responsibility to teach them, to support them, to make them better people. As I’ve grown older it’s become clear that I’ve inherited her anxiety—we both tend to worry about nearly everything—but I can only hope to inherit her kindness, which is absolute.”
Note: Bobby did not have a readily available photo of his mother and requested to use an image of Miss Beadle from Little House on the Prairie as a place holder.
For as long as I can remember people have told me that I look just like my mother. At time, I didn’t really see it but it’s so clear looking back at photos like this. I also now realize that I dance exactly like her, for better or worse.
My mom has the very valuable gift of being able to make people—all kinds of people—like her almost instantly. I’m often taken aback by the sheer number of people who jump to help her out when she needs it or invite her to events and on vacations. She seems to constantly bounce between different circles of people who adore her. And I must say, it feels pretty great to be the number one priority (which I guess I have to split with my sister) to a person as prized as she is.
“My mom’s mantra when my brother and I were growing up was ‘Don’t be helpless.’ She’s an anthropologist, a historian, and the boss-lady at a major museum, and all she’s ever wanted for me is that I act as the boss-lady of my own life. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the floor with her as she taught me how to flip over a tape in my baby tape deck. Then she taught me to rewind it, so I’d know how to listen to the whole thing, all by myself. She refused to let me drive unless I learned how to drive a stick-shift, telling me, “A woman can’t be independent unless she can operate a manual transmission.” She stoutly refuses to tell me tales of her wild hippie youth — I’ve had to get those scandalous stories from my uncle instead, in tiny pieces — but I’ll wear her down one of these days.”
“As my Granny used to say ‘Your mother is the best friend you’ll ever have’ and she wasn’t wrong. My mother is a survivor and a fighter. After my father died of cancer when I was barely five, it was us against the world. Still, she raised my god brother and I like a champ. When she tired of her first career, she had the courage to get her Master’s degree and pick a new one. My mom is smart, opinionated, fair and funny without trying thanks to the most un-poker face ever. In the summer, she visits me in Brooklyn where I drag to her to hipster BBQs, stoop chill-outs and magazine parties because she wants to ‘see what I do.’
This is all between drinking lots of tea and stressing her out with shows she’d never watch without me like ‘Pitbulls and Parolees.’ Besides my looks, every Jezebel rant you’ve ever read by me is thanks to what this fine product of South Central Los Angeles has taught me. And if you ever disagree with either of us, God help you.”
-Hillary Crosley Coker
A frustrating thing about humans is how we can have experiences and never learn from them. My mom has spent her life trying and succeeding at being an emotionally sound and giving person, and it’s the thing about her I try to emulate the most. I could talk endlessly about her very cool career that she’s worked so hard to get, or what an amazing mother she is, but the thing that impresses me about her above all is how she’s taught me that it’s always possible to be better, whatever ‘better’ means to you.
Also she sends me emails like this: “Happy national sandwich day!”
“Look at this wild bitch! I mean, she’s a killer. Like, she captures the room and slays them. Never shy, never dull. In her presence people are warmer, louder, and bawdier. She was scolded once by a fellow teacher, some BASIC and petty woman, for cussing in the teacher’s lounge. Can you believe that bullshit? My mother has to deal with bullshit all the time. I gave her guff and bullshit and enough eyerolls to collapse your sarcastic teenaged skull. She took it, though and still let me come into her bedroom at night to sob about boys. She’s a wild bushwoman of the San Fernando Valley, a Chilean exile who got her apartment tossed by a paramilitary unit in the 1970s. She’s got a toothless Chihuahua with bad attitude as her side kick, a heart as strong as a fist, and one lucky ass daughter.”
I wish I had a photo of my mom somewhere like DragonCon or Ren Faire or one of the million other beyond-nerdy things to which she gamely allowed herself to be dragged over the years, never once making me feel like the enormous dork I was. Too bad I don’t have a video of her telling my high school debate coach that if anything happened to me while I was his responsibility, she’d literally [redacted for legal reasons]. Nor do I have a picture of her graduation from nursing school, which she got through partly by parking my too-young-for-school-aged brother and sister in front of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and The Bodyguard.
But I do have this picture from our trip to Ireland, which I snapped right after she got on her hands and knees to crawl halfway under a hedge to get the perfect picture of a sheep. It’s a great illustration of the best thing she ever gave me: a determined sense of adventure. Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.