(by Sondra Slade)
A few years ago at a family function, my mom and I were reminiscing over something one of our relatives said. My daughter took a great picture of Mom and me laughing at this moment, and I decided to post it on Facebook—what I thought was a harmless act.
One of my mom’s fellow teachers told her about the picture. My mother immediately informed me that I hadn’t asked her permission and that I should take the photo down. I complied with her wish, but I also blocked her friend.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2020. My youngest sister thought it was a great idea to sign our mom up for a Facebook account. She said it was so that Mom could keep up with out-of-state family members, although I think her real reason was long-simmering revenge for the time my middle sister and I pushed her down the street in one of our doll carriages and left her there.
One day when I logged into Facebook, I saw a “friend” request from my mom. I called to verify that it was she, and I swear I could hear my younger sister laughing in the background. Mom said that one of her fellow teachers told her she was missing out by not participating, and when she named the friend, I recognized the gossiper I had blocked. I muttered, “If you all spread the gospel like you spread gossip, maybe things would be different,” but (probably luckily) she didn't hear me.
A couple of days passed, and the friend request from my mom sat there glaring at me. Should I accept it? Delete it? Ignore it? Although she lives ten minutes away, my mother and I were not exactly “friends.” My middle sister is Mom’s favorite (although she would never admit it), but I’ve always been a daddy’s girl. I look and act like him; I am very direct and to the point, no fluff, while my mom is Mrs. Passive-Aggressive and Mrs. Manners. Our mother/daughter relationship only got better once my dad passed away and I had kids. Her grandchildren are really the reason we tolerate each other, and of course she believes she knows best in regards to parenting. We have had to learn the phrase "boundaries can be blessings.” The one thing that bonds us together is laughter; we can always share a laugh at something or even each other.
Thinking that perhaps I could ignore the friend request indefinitely, I was not happy to see one of my aunts send a mass text with a long Bible verse and a request: “Hey, family, let’s start using either the Houseparty app or Zoom to eat dinner once a week.” I hoped that my mother wouldn’t feel like reading something that long (it would take her away from watching Judge Judy), but thanks to the pandemic, she now had extra time on her hands. Not only did she read it but she sent my sisters and my kids another mass text asking someone to come over and put (not “download,” which was still a new term) the app on her phone. She offered to buy dinner for whoever did it, which she knows is the quickest way to get anyone in our family to do something.
My 13-year-old daughter was the first to reply: “I’ll gladly help you, GG. Do you wanna come over to our house or pick me up?” With heart and high-five emojis (taught to her by my traitor daughter), she replied, “I’ll pick you up when virtual school is over.”
When my mother arrived and we sat waiting for my daughter, Mom was fidgeting with her phone. Finally she said, “Did you get my friend request?” Reluctantly I told her yes, but explained that I (and some people on my page) might say some things she would find offensive.
“I’ve learned I can ignore stuff,” she said.
“I remember when we were kids and you used to say you were our mother, not our friend,” I replied, but as I said it, I knew I was going to pay for it.
Later that week, Mom sent an invitation for a Zoom dinner time, then called to tell me what she was going to cook. (My dad was in charge of everyday meals in our family; holidays were Mom’s time, and we savored everything that came out of her kitchen. She taught me the fine bits of cooking, like how to make substitutions when she didn’t have something.) Two days later I got notifications from six members of my family wanting me to join them on Houseparty. I realized that I couldn’t ignore everyone forever, and that perhaps the best way to keep an eye on Mom would be if my sisters and I all talked to her at once, on the app.
I’m still laughing at how the pandemic and social media have returned us to being kids within the yelling voice of our mother. My middle sister and I have not figured out how to pay our little sister back for helping “her mom” get on Facebook. I am sure we will find a way, but right now I gotta jump on this Zoom dinner meeting. Tonight is Taco Tuesday, and it’s my turn to bring tequila.
Sondra Slade is a project coordinator (Consumer Logic Research), segment producer (Focus Black Oklahoma), stand-up comedian, podcaster (LaughternLyrics), storyteller, daughter, and mother (not always in that order), who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She can be found on Instagram and Facebook.
1 lb. ground beef
1 c. mixed peppers, chopped
1 c. mixed red and yellow onions, chopped
1 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
1 head of lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
package of hard shell tacos
shredded cheddar and jalapeno cheese
In a skillet, brown the beef.
With a slotted spoon, remove beef to a bowl, reserving drippings in the skillet.
Add chili powder and cumin to beef.
Add half the onions and peppers to the skillet, and simmer until soft.
Add beef back to the skillet, and quickly reheat.
Load taco shells with beef, lettuce, reserved raw peppers and onions, tomatoes and cheeses.