Growing up, I'd consciously do the exact opposite of what she suggested. If she said, "Boy Liesl, your natural hair color is so pretty," I'd dye it darker and darker. If she said, "You know, Liesl, you'd look nice with long hair," I'd cut it short. My experimental asymmetrical look almost sent her over the edge. When she'd mention, "Skirts are so flattering on you," I'd wear my Guess jeans with pockets up and down each leg (I could fit 9 beers in those jeans). And when she said, "Liesl, if you'd wear a bit of a heel, it'll give you a nice long, slimming leg," I'd put on my hiking boots with the bright red laces.
"Under the sofa," I said.
"How can you be my daughter and have that roll off your tongue so easily? You know most people keep them in a drawer in the kitchen."
"Yup, I know. But this is where I keep mine. Be sure to slide 'em back under when you're through. I like a bit of the plastic orange handle to peek out."
On the same visit, I dropped a bag of flour on the carpet. "No problem," she said, "why don't you get out the vacuum?" "Right....the vacuum cleaner," I said casually. Panicked, I scoured four closets until I found the damn thing. Out of breath, I plugged the machine into the walI. Like a hawk on the sofa, my mother watched my every move as if she doubted my vacuuming prowess. I nonchalantly kicked my foot around the sides and corners of the thing with no luck. Then I patted my hands along the handle but nothing happened. I unzipped and then rezipped the bag part. After I unplugged and replugged the machine, Mother Unger, almost went into shock.
"You don't know how to turn on your vacuuuuuuuum cleeeeeaaaaannnnner?"
"Yeah, um...well, no."
But when I got dumped and all my friends were getting married, I called my mom.
When I woke up July 21, 2004 and needed help with my drinking problem, I called my mom.
When I knew my spirit was dying and it was time to file for divorce, I called my mom.
Now my hair is long and I wear heels and skirts every chance I get. And the scissors are safely stored in a kitchen drawer, albeit a messy one.
And when I became a single mom, who had been out of the workforce for 15 years, I called my mom.
She said, "You are funny. Follow your dream. Be a writer."
I'm excited to announce I've been cast to perform in the 2013 Listen to Your Mother - Madison show. I will be one of 14 writers doing a live stage reading of an original piece at the Barrymore Theater on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 12.
Oh, and I almost forgot, when I write my book and sit on the Today show couch with Matt Lauer, I'll hire a cleaning lady who'll know exactly how to turn on my vacuum cleaner.