Mom's magazines

Before I was a grandmother of three grandsons, before I was a mother to three daughters, I was a daughter of one single mother. My mom had custody of four or more of her seven kids — myself and my four sisters and two brothers — at various times, depending on who might be staying with Dad, from my twelfth year up until I left home at 17.

family circle magazineFrom Pinterest: so many kids to care for, the rare treats Mom allowed herself were the Family Circle and Woman's Day magazines she'd pick up when stretching thin as can be the dollars at the grocery store. Back then, the two magazines together were just over a dollar, the delights within them well worth the splurge.

When Mom returned home from the grocery store with bags of store-brand goods to be put away, I more often than not nabbed her treats — her precious magazines — and set them aside to go through myself once I'd half-heartedly stacked  a few cans in the cupboard, placed this or that in the fridge. Then I'd slip away and pore over the slick, colorful pages of mouthwatering recipes, crafty decorating ideas, stories of perfect mothers doing perfect activities with their perfectly dressed and well-behaved children.

The holiday issues often doubled the page count, doubled the delights. Article headlines would shout to be read:

101 Holiday Cookies!

5 Ways to Light Up Your Christmas!

Shimmer and Shine in New Year's Party Dresses and Tresses!

The pages were filled with gingerbread men alongside perfect gingerbread houses. Starlit trees with the tinsel — oh, the tinsel! — placed with precision. Smiling children in red and green jackets with matching stocking caps ànd matching strung mittens frolicked in freshly fallen snow while Dad laughed at their antics, Mom smiled and served steaming cups of hot cocoa.

I could not get enough. I dreaded turning the last page, finishing the second of the two.

In the periphereal vision of my mind's eye, I see my mom glancing my way as I savored her treats first, wrinkled the pages, longed for the leisurely and lovely life of a Family Circle family or Woman's Day woman. Mom never said a word, never told me to put the magazines down, never pointed out that she worked long and hard and deserved that one small thing, that first look at pages not yet turned or smudged or wrinkled. 

No, Mom never said such things. She just set to work on whatever bit of the endless work a cash-strapped, energy sapped, single mom needed to do to get through day by day.

I knew I should wait my turn until Mom got her fill of her treats. But how could I resist? Within those pages was the life I craved.

Since becoming a mother then becoming a grandmother, I now understand that within those pages was the life my mom craved, too. And that she deserved — more than anyone — the first taste of it as splayed out in the marvelous magazines on which she'd splurged.

I did a lot of inconsiderate things as a teen that surely saddened my mother. In spite of the real hurts I caused her, the money I cost her, devouring her Family Circle and her Woman's Day magazines first without considering what those treats meant to her sticks with me most. Especially this time of year as I pass the holiday issues galore shouting from magazine racks at the stores.

Despite the magazines beckoning me to buy as I stand at the register, I don't. I no longer desire such pages of perfection. My life may be far from perfect, but now that I'm a mother, now that I'm a grandmother, I realize I've found the life I craved.

Though I do crave a Christmas wish now and then. If I happened to be granted one, I'd wish Mom had found the magazine life she once craved, too.

Today's question:

What magazines did your mother read?