My Mother Was a Beauty Queen
This is My Mom!!
My mother was a 1950’s beauty queen.
I have a photo to prove it. She kneels atop a real live tortoise. Beneath a palm. One hand placed delicately on the languid creature’s shell. The other waving beside her baby doll smile. She is a curvaceous beauty. The white one-piece a masterstroke. Yet, she was a shy teenager who lacked self confidence she tells me. Not the Miss University of Florida contest type. Peer pressure got the best of her.
More than once, this beauty queen has told me she feels she didn’t measure up as a parent. That she lacked wisdom and patience. That she was somehow absent. Let me set the record straight. Her parenting was heroic. True and steady. A single woman managing two rambunctious boys at 29. The Dalai Lama would have blown a vein overseeing the hellions that were my brother and me. I would have been a terrible parent to myself. My mother’s “absence” was called a full-time teaching job and a Masters she took at night. With an occasional date thrown in. She got us to every baseball practice. Every birthday party. Attended every game. But that’s not what matters most.
At a more core level, I always ALWAYS knew my mom was there for me.
And I tested that theory with drugs, arrests, depression and plenty more. She was and IS the one absolute constant in my life. The parent I hoped to become and hope I am now – ever patient, resourceful and supportive. She dabbed a cool wet washcloth to my five-year-old forehead when migraines attacked soon after she and my father split. She bolstered my waning self-confidence through the Holden Caufield teen angst. She was my first call when I opted mid-twenties to abandon the certain wealth of Wall Street to chase my artistic dream. When, in my deepest despair, I decided to divorce in my early thirties. And when, just after forty, I realized I wanted to ask Jodi to spend the rest of our lives together.
So Mom …. know this. You rocked it.
And you still do. What matters to me most now is that my kids are happy. And I know that still holds for you. I AM HAPPY. You did it. You are magic. Your love runs through my veins. And the veins of my children. It is the very life force within me. There are not enough words …
Thank you for all that beauty!
Stuart Sheldon, Mother Was a Beauty Queen, Acrylic and oil crayon on canvas, 20″x16″, 2003