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      Ways my mother embarrassed me

      My mom, Judy Quinn. This picture was taken at my brother's wedding reception, two weeks before she died of uterine cancer. / Sarah Deien

      My mom would embarrass me by not putting on makeup and some decent clothes when she picked us up from school or an activity. She might have dirt in her nails from working in the garden, or dough caked on her shirt from making rolls. She never had that just came from the salon look some moms had.

      Sometimes my mom would actually stop a parent in a store who was abusing a child. The confrontation made me want to crawl into a hole.

      My mom made me go to church when my friends got to sleep in. I also suffered the humiliation of saying the rosary in the car, even if we had company. In fact, Mom had a way of making me feel mortified at mass nearly every Sunday. It was the way she would get all breathy and close her eyes and get all into it. I just wanted to sink into the pew.

      If someone was mean to me"even a sibling"Mom insisted I show kindness back. I guess it was supposed to be an exercise in character building. Really? I TMm to hurt my pride by turning the other cheek? I ignored that advice when possible.

      Some of my friend TMs moms were their buddies. My mom never tried to win my friendship. She was just Mom.

      Mom never bought us the latest things our friends had. We always had to make do, or do without. We had to save our money and buy our own clothes, unless we had a good hand-me-down supplier. And if the clothes weren TMt decent, she wouldn TMt let us out of the house.

      This didn TMt embarrass me so much as it made me mad. Mom gave away our TV set to an old man who didn TMt have one. That whole summer we were forced into family time. And even though we couldn TMt splurge on a pool pass and instead swam in the pond, Mom would secretly buy a family pool membership for a low-income single mother.

      Mom was so against teenage drinking and drug use, she started a group to provide alternatives. And she MADE me join. That of course made me the object of ridicule from the kids who got high.

      I had to pay my own way through college, meaning it was solely my responsibility to keep up my grades and hold down a job. My buddies had beer money and I didn TMt (though I often managed to find a way around that). My friends had free time, while I struggled to make my own way.

      At our house, it was always follow the rules. That meant a midnight curfew even when I was home from college. It was embarrassing having to tell my friends goodbye when they didn TMt have to straggle in until dawn.

      I admit it. I was deeply embarrassed when Mom became pregnant with child number nine at the age of 45. She was already a grandma, for crying out loud! Once my brother Matt was born and I realized the wonderful blessing he was to our family, I got over it.

      The older I get, I become increasingly grateful for the embarrassments I suffered in my young life. Mom died almost eight years ago. I miss her terribly, not just for myself, but for my children who are missing out on so much by not having the example of Grandma Quinn in their lives. And especially now, as our twins are about to become teenagers, I pray I have the courage to embarrass my children when necessary.

      Take care ~Sarah