The moment I realized my mom is cooler than me

It’s early afternoon and my mom, post-workout and post-shopping, comes inside with a few bags. Her haul most likely includes first edition books she found at a small library sale, eggs from the neighbor down the street, some obscure art supplies, an invite to an art show, and a delicious plan for lunch with some local vegetables.

She says things like, “Could you grind up some coriander?” and, “Check out how giant these green onions are! Here, take this fresh baguette and slice some up for the boys.” She’s also carrying a new sweater she bought, which comes with the resolution of ridding her closet of two-three items. Talk about sustainable.

If this were a friend of mine, I’d be secretly thinking, “How does she do it all? This is awesome. I want to be simultaneously be environmentally conscious and considerate of other people’s dietary needs as well!”

Once the food is cooked, the tea is steeping. My mom’s tea collection is insane. Once the tea is finished (yes, she takes the full time to steep it), she asks me which kind of honey I’d like. I have four options, and you guessed it, there’s a local honey option. She tells me, “Local honey helps your immune system! So does local Elderberry syrup.”

One more note about the tea, and a great lead-in to my mom’s next hipster-ism — as I was sipping my tea, mom was holding a book aptly named Tea. It’s about the original tea trade routes and its introduction to Great Britain. She asks, “Did you know tea was so valuable that they used to adulterate it with birch leaves, sheep’s dung, or…” She keeps talking here, but I’m just nodding and thinking about which show I want to watch next.

If a friend was describing this, I’d be giving those encouraging verbal cues like “Oh, really?” or “So interesting! Tell me more!”

Mom’s phone rings and her ring tone is a weird alien jingle. She says it’s “so that I can tell the difference between my phone and other women’s at the store!” Talk about going with the under-used option. She also played Words With Friends before it was cool. And she still plays it currently, after it is no longer cool.

Regarding decor, suffice it to say she hangs dried flowers, keeps fresh herbs year round, and re-grew the succulent from a wedding bouquet I used. She was very close with her Depression-Era grandmother who repurposed everything, and she also keeps a fresh aloe plant behind the couch. A majority of our serving dishes or bowls are hand-thrown pottery. There are countless little tins around the house of soil and sand from around the world: pink Bermuda sand, red Colorado dirt, tiny Irish stones, a rainbow of shells from North Carolina and Delaware.

There are also many notes of obscure movie quotes I’ll never understand, funny things my brother Stephen said as a baby and scribbled notes from a radio broadcast she doesn’t want to forget. There are also locally made instruments, hand painted art and alternative medicines (not in a weird way, just endless amounts of vitamins and things like “sub-lingual B12 tablets”).

Before she goes to bed, she asks if I want to see the newest exhibition at the Cleveland Art Museum. Again, if this were a friend asking, I’d immediately jump on the chance.

I’ve come to note, after all these brief observations, that maybe, as daughters, we’re quick to write our mothers off. As it turns out, they’re definitely cooler than we thought. When I told my mom how cool she was and that I thought she might, in fact, be a hipster, she was immediately repulsed at the term, and said, “What! There’s no way.” Spoken like a true hipster.

Erica Griffith wishes she lived in the mountains and is always willing to ditch plans for a road trip. You can totally stalk her Instagram and blog to keep her accountable with the “have less + do more” mentality.

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