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Monday, June 17, 2013

My Mother, SAHM Did Not Mean Just Folding Laundry

Officially, you could say that my mother, Shirley Spiegelman, was a SAHM, Stay at home mother, but she really didn't stay at home much, except to run the various groups and organizations she joined.  I learned how to fold by folding flyers she had to distribute for those groups and whatevers

She was president, secretary, chairman, in those days called chairwoman when female, and on a rare occasion a more minor position.  Every PTA, Sisterhood, the National Council of Jewish Women, Bell Park Gardens Day Camp and groups I never knew about were on her "CV."  The deal my parents had was that he would earn the money and she would care for us and run the house.  It worked for them and always seemed ideal to me. I never looked at "not working" as an inferior life.  I was hoping to have the same arrangement with my husband, but in the end I had to find ways to get paid.

Besides all of the organizational work, my mother loved the stage.  She'd take dancing lessons and also acted, first in the Fresh Meadows Community Theater, when we lived in Bayside, NY, and later in the Great Neck Community Theater.

The make-up artist in the Great Neck Community Theatre complained that there was no way to make my mother look as old as she was supposed to look for that role.

My Cousin Mickey, who had Cerebral Palsy, used to love to tell how my mother kept him entertained by dancing for him when he suffered through painful physical therapy when he was a little boy.

One summer when I was in college, friends of hers insisted she teach them "exercise to music," the predecessor of "aerobics."  It was actually my specialty; I had been training with an expert, Alan Wayne.  So she convinced them that I should be her assistant to demonstrate the exercises.  What we really did was that she would tell people to do what I did, and then we both got paid.

When my father retired, they liked to go to the musical performances there were for free in Great Neck.  I once went with them.  My father would inevitably fall asleep for the whole show, and when he got  up he'd say:
"That was the worst music I've ever heard."

Actually, he did the same thing this past winter in the senior citizen place they were then living in.

One thing for sure.  No matter what types of jobs and occupations and hobbies one has during one's active years, nothing really prepares us for the difficulties of old age, when we may have no choice about staying home* or going out.

*whether it's "home" or an "old folks home" where we have little control over our lives

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