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Define you…in six words

question-markIf you asked your children to describe you as a mother in just six words, what would they say…to your face…behind your back? Do we really want to know?  Maybe not, but it’s fascinating to see what other adult children think of their mothers.

NPR aired a piece last weekend about a call by The Forward to readers for six-word “momoirs” on Jewish mothers. The results ranged from hilarious, “Strong, independent rethinker of tuna casserole” to poignant, “Mother, our lady of perpetual dissatisfaction.”

So the day before Mother’s Day, NPR sent out its own request asking listeners to sum up their moms in six words. The six-word story has a literary history: Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a novel in six words and came up with: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” That idea was appropriated in 2006 by Larry Smith who has turned it into a website and a series of books.

Like the Forward readers, the NPR comments also showed mixed emotions about moms. The following sampling, which we’ve categorized by type, proves how much mother-child history can be packed into six words. Some of these comments provide enough material for a full-length novel by Hemingway or any other author.

We’ll not risk family harmony by asking our adult children to define us in six words.  The loving notes in the Mother’s Day cards are enough!

The Protector
I was there so was she.
Kept me from almost all harm
Now I know why she worries.
The Beauty Queen
Eighty-eight, still in stockings and heels.
Pool water never touched her hair.
Powder. Lipstick. Rouge. Now I’m ready.
The Boss
That’s what you’re going to wear?
You can always have it removed
Have fun, put your hood on.
What? I was just making conversation!
The Estranged
I still wish I’d been adopted
Could never please Mom; said farewell.
Mom, why didn’t you leave him?
Self-effacing, jealous, bitter, smiling. Southern.
The Beloved:
More proud of me than me.
You’d have liked who we became.
Lived like she signed letters “Lovingly”
On earth to make others happy.
Safe place to spill my secrets
All the sacrifices were for us.
To thine own self be true.
Best Grandma ever, all is forgiven.
Smart. Tenacious. Tough. Loving. Shrewd. Perfectionist.

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