I wrote an article for South Jersey Magazine a couple years ago entitled “Who’s The Chick in the Red Top?” It spoke of how my 35-year marriage all began with me asking that question at a party to a buddy of mine.
Really, that’s how the insane journey of marriage begins for most of us. You meet someone, you’re attracted to them and that’s that. I’ll concede that there are marriages where one of the spouses will tell you years later that they weren’t the least bit attracted to their mate when they first met, but that’s rare and often they’re lying to themselves. There has to be some sort of spark there. (Unless you are part of some long-lost South American jungle tribe and you’re married off to some chief from a neighboring village. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen my sister in years.)
When I first met my wife Debbie at a Sea Isle City party, I didn’t think to myself, “Now there’s a girl I could see myself discussing car insurance with someday.”
No, I wanted to kiss her, to put it politely. I am writing for a family magazine here. Then I fell in love, ended up marrying her and the next thing I knew, while we were certainly having a fun time with our lives, we also discovered that we were going to have to deal with rent, refrigerators, dentists, relatives, cable bills and where the kids were going to school. It’s amazing that the institution of marriage has survived all these centuries based on the fact that it all hangs on that simple thread of animal attraction.
When I first started dating Debbie, having children was the furthest thing from my mind. I never once gave it any thought. I never looked at her while she was sleeping and wondered, “What kind of mother would she be?”
And that’s what I want to write about today. My wife, the mother of my two fantastic daughters, Keely and Ava.
Without coming off like a Hallmark card, Debbie has been everything to my daughters that you could possibly ask for. Caring. Attentive. The “cool” mom. A nurse. A fashion designer. Their best friend.
I’d like to think that I have been all that to my daughters also, but the truth is, I’m not. First of all, I was not who they turned to when they were sick. It was always Debbie. I know that when I was a kid and having a horrible earache, I did not invade my parents’ bedroom and snuggle up crying next to my old man. It was always Mom. (It would have been difficult to lay down next to my dad anyway since he was never seen in bed, but always parked at the kitchen table drinking Ortliebs.) The other reason that my daughters would never turn to me when they were ill was because they would have had to get in line behind me since Debbie is also my own private nurse. Let’s face it, men are whiny little crybabies even when they get a simple splinter.
In terms of fashion, I would like to believe that I have a good eye for what looks good on a woman and what doesn’t. But not in a million years will they turn to me and ask, “How does this jacket look with this skirt?” if their mother is around. She would have to be on another continent before this would happen. And even then they would take a photo of the outfit under review and text it to her for her opinion.
There’s no way I would be able to donate the amount of fashion time that Debbie spends with them. For years, I have enjoyed eavesdropping on their fashion commentary when they would be watching some red carpet affair like the Oscars or some other award show.
“Oh my God, that color looks horrible on her!”
“Who did her hair?!”
“Who is that hunk on her arm?”
And now they have Facebook:
“Did you see that dress Monica wore to Julie’s wedding?”
“I love the bathing suit Joanne’s wearing in her new profile photo.”
“Never wear stripes!”
Then there’s music. Or to be more precise, singing. As you all know I am a music freak. But my wife? Like most women, she knows the words to every hit song ever recorded. She certainly notices, for example, a terrific drummer, but in the end, she just wants to sing along with the words. And she has passed that along to Keely and Ava. I can’t tell you how many times I have pulled up in the driveway and can hear the three of them belting out Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Heck, they can hear them in Camden. And dance? When we go out for a no shower happy hour down the Shore they will dance to DJ Brother Mike for hours on end. That’s the beautiful thing about women. They have no problem hitting the dance floor together. When is the last time you heard your husband turn to his buddy and exclaim, “Wow, I love this song! C’mon, Bill, let’s cut a rug!”
And that’s where the “friend” part of this all comes in. Don’t misunderstand me, she’s tough on them when need be. God knows all she has to do is give them “The Look” and they’ll stop in a South Jersey second whatever it is they are doing that she doesn’t approve of. Make no mistake about it, she knows exactly when to play the mother card, which is why my daughters are the nice, polite women that they are.
So here’s to you, Debbie. My Mother of the Year. I may not have been thinking about that when I first met you, but thank God we got together or we wouldn’t have ended up with these two precious daughters. (And now my daughter Keely is expecting twins. You must now refer to me as Big Granddaddy Graham.)
Happy Mother’s Day, everybody!
Big Daddy Graham is a renowned stand-up comedian and overnight personality on SportsRadio 94WIP. Check out his new podcast, Big Daddy’s Classic Rock Throwdown, at BigDaddyGraham.com.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 2 (May, 2017).
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