the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Mom, Don’t Forget to Wear Your Hat


At some point in every adult’s life, the "child" begins to worry about his parents.  This is a passage of life because before that, it was the parents who mostly worried about the child.  For some, this happens at an early age.  A parent could be sick, unattentive, or die early, making the child mature early. 

This was not my case.   My parents never wanted me to worry.  Instead they were the ones who constantly worried about me.

Today, there’s a blizzard in New York.  Tomorrow, my mother will schlep from Queens into Manhattan to go to work.  I called her tonight and told her "to dress warm" tomorrow — knowing she had a bout with pneumonia last year.  It reminded me of when I was a kid and she used to make me wear a hat. 

Are our roles reversing?

She enjoys working downtown, but at some point, she might want to retire.  Would she enjoy being in the nice weather during the winter?  She recently visited her friend Shirley in Florida. Shirley lives in one of those "retirement villages" in Boca Raton.  My mother says she "wasn’t crazy about Florida," mostly because it made her feel older than she actually feels inside.

My mother brought up an example:

"Shirley and I went to the clubhouse for "Movie Night."  They were showing "Bull Durham."  Halfway through the movie there was a fire alarm.  Everyone got up to exit the clubhouse, but there were so many older residents with walkers and canes, that it took everyone twenty minutes to exit the clubhouse.  It ended up being a false alarm — but we skipped the rest of the movie, not wanting to wait another twenty minutes while everyone sat down again."

After she retires, the logical next step would be for her to move out here  — maybe during the winter months — assuming I’m still living in Los Angeles.  After all, I’m the only child.  But where would she live?  My mother doesn’t know how to drive, despite having a New York State driver’s license, which is the funniest thing in the universe to me.  My mother said that if she moves here, she’ll take a refresher course in driving.  Little does she know that if she is going to drive around Los Angeles, that’s the time when I move somewhere else.

All in all, my mother seems to be doing pretty well since my father’s passing.  Although she says it is "too quiet" at night, she’s been going out to concerts and movies on weekends.  In May, she’s even going with two women friends on a bus trip through Spain and Portugal.  That’s something she could have never dragged my father to do.

I’m still such a kid myself — still unsettled with work and marriage.  I wish I could be more of help to her, instead of it always being the other way around.  But, let’s see — at least I have my blog to entertain her with during the day!   I know she reads it every day, because I see her in the stats — she is my most consistent reader.

Although, this weekend, we did have a little mother-son discussion about my blog:

"Neil, one of my friends who I play Mahjong with reads your blodge and she wanted me to tell you something important."

"Is this Suzanne we’re talking about?"

"Yes, how did you know?"

"Because she’s your only friend who would know how to find a blog online.  What did she say?"

"She said she likes the blodge  a lot.."

"Blog!  Blog!"

"OK, blodge… but she has one small complaint.  There’s too much of "that thing.""

"What "thing?""

"That "thing" you talk about too much."

"What are you talking about, Mom?"

"That "thing" you talk to."

"Oh… that "thing.""

"Yes.  She said to just "cut it out."   I mean, not the "thing."   Don’t cut off the "thing."  She meant to "cut it out" of the blodge… to stop talking about the "thing," not  to cut your "thing" itself, G-d forbid."

"I understand, Mom.  You didn’t raise an idiot."  

"And I agree…"

"About what?  Oh…"

"I… um… who in the world talks to their "thing?""


"So, anyway…"

"Uh…well, uh…so, Mom, (changing the subject)… are you watching the Olympics…?"


  1. cruisin-mom

    Neil, you’re a kind son. Your mom is lucky to have you.

  2. Neil

    Thanks, but it really is the other way around. As a Mom yourself, you know that you do all the work and you get taken for granted until your kids are –say, 30.

  3. helen

    OMG!! Your mom plays mahjong??? COOL!! The stats are people who play mahjong will not get Alzeimer’s. Helps to exercise the brains it seems…
    It’s touching the way you talked about your mom. I’m generalizing here, but, it’s always believed Westerners (esp Americans) do not care for the old. (unlike Asians who usually stay with their parents… of course times are changing) Good for you!! 🙂

    Asians are especially reluctant to move into retirement homes. They felt it is degrading to be there and their rightful place should be with their children. For me, if my time comes, I’ll definitely move into a retirement home. You feel much younger when people around you are as old as you! LOL

  4. Pearl

    Neil, the title says it all.
    I really like these “real Neil” posts, and Randi is right, your parents were lucky that you’re their son. And no doubt it’s been a case of the reverse, too.
    So, Elaine Kramer, “blodge” aside, Neilochka is allllll riiiiiiiight.

  5. The Retropolitan

    Your mother should start up a blodge of her own. I’d actually be very interested in reading one by someone that was a little older than the standard blodger — it would be neat.

  6. Wendy

    Nice one. I think it’s great she reads the blog…even if she does think you need to tone down the “thing” discussions…. My mother says she knows more about me and feels closer to me now that I’m blogging than she ever did before. Funny how blogging can produce unexpected results.

  7. ekramer

    i know i am lucky

  8. Neil

    Helen — It’s too bad that things are changing in places like Malaysia. The Asian respect for elders is one of the ways that Asian culture is superior to the Western one.

    Wendy — Of course, who ever listens to their mother’s advice? And Suzanne — the next one is dedicated to you!

    Mom — You’re so corny! And I hope I didn’t make you out to seem “old,” considering that you have more energy than I do. Maybe you should start a blodge.

  9. darlin nikki

    Good to keep an eye on the Momz; I was gifted w/ meatloaf the other day (of which I’m not a huge fan) and cut into it to find, Lo and Behold! a Dora the Explorer band-aid. This tells us 1) My mom is a elementary teacher 2) who shouldn’t be baking but 3) we love here anyway 🙂

  10. Tatyana

    Now I feel ashamed. I’m much younger than your mom and I am too lazy to go to the movies and museums on weekends…there is often no express “N” on weekends from Brooklyn!

  11. cruisin-mom

    Hey, I vote for EKRAMER to start a blodge

  12. He's Dead, Jim!

    Neil, does your mom want to date? I know a nice eligible widower psychiatrist in Brooklyn…

  13. Edgy Mama

    Your Mom’s great. She reminds me of my Mom–who also is a bit unhappy with any, ummmmm, s*x talk on my blog.

  14. ms. sizzle

    don’t cut it off!

    ha ha ha.

    priceless conversation.

    🙂 sizz

  15. Leesa

    Very funny. My mother doesn’t drive either, and if she starts, we’re all in trouble.

  16. Michelle

    You are very lucky to have a close relationship with your mom. I am scared to let my mom read my blog. But maybe, after reading this, I will change my mind.

  17. Bre

    Quite sweet!

    My mother refers to my blog as “that bloggy thing you do,” she comes across it every once in a while when my sister leaves the site up. She’ll read through and then call, “You know, you had two comma splices in that part about the dog. Maybe you should hire an editor or something!”

    LOL but anyway – it’s certainly refreshing to see someone appreciate their mother instead of bemoaning how wretched and overbearing they are!

  18. Trix

    Wait…so, does that mean our little “project” is off? NO!!! Please, say it isn’t so!

  19. pia

    I tried to get my parents to move to Florida, but no. Something about old people

    My mother remained in the house until there was one too many LILCO blackouts, and the seventeen snowstorms in the winter of 96

    Role reversal is difficult; my sister’s m-i-l accuses people of infantlizing her if anybody does anything to help her. And she’s right on many levels.

    There has to be a better way; we’ve just been concentrating resources on all the wrong things

    And if your mother reads your blog, she should kinda expect to read more than she wants to

  20. M.A.

    I like your blodge too. hahaha!

  21. Serena

    I’m the same way with my mom. I think there definitely comes a point in our lives when the roles are supposed to reverse. You struck a cord when you talked of not feeling like you could be there for her though…not in the way you’d want to. I want to be at a place in my life when I can support her and give her whatever she needs. To be grown up emotionally. Not there yet.

  22. Alice

    ..and that’s why my mom does NOT have the address to my blodge 🙂

  23. Carly

    Count me among those that want a Neil’s mom’s blodge. Surely she has some great stories from your childhood to share?

  24. Neil

    My mother has read every trashy book out there — Harold Robbins, Judith Krantz, etc. She can survive.

  25. Neil's Penis

    That’s right, Neil. In fact, where do you think you first learned the word “cock” — from sneaking looks at Page 213 of “Princess Daisy” as a kid! So, there!”

  26. AWE

    I am scared to drive in LA. I would talk to my “thing” too if I had to go through that traffic.

  27. Pearl

    Have I got some books for Ma Kramer to read…! Our company just started publishing a line of erotica books. (that works well to counteract those Christian romances we also do!)

  28. networkchic

    I think if that point never comes when our roles reverse, there’s something wrong with the way your parents raised you. Your mom did a good job.

  29. Megan

    I adore the relationship you have with your mom. You both are endearing people. It reminds me of the Jewish version of my mom and myself (minus the “thing”). This entry left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

    Well, until that feeling washed away when I thought about your mom driving in LA. Give us some warning before she gets behind the wheel; I’ll make sure as many people are off the road as possible!

  30. Jill

    Hmmm… do you think it’s all a cover, and maybe your mom and her mahjong gals are actually publishing cyber-erotica at their get-togethers? Because, I’ve found some, and it’s quite good, and there are talking penises. I think they stole your idea, Neil. And that’s why they’ve been reading your blodge so intently. More talking penises.

  31. Won't tell

    The art of changing subject. Lost, in my opinion.

  32. Mel

    You still remember what page the word cock was on. I love it.

    My mother reared two very bossy and demanding daughters, she is no longer allowed to be in charge.

  33. akaky

    You know, I cannot conceive of a set of circumstances in which the “thing” becomes a subject of conversation for my mother and me. I suppose that’s some sort of general Irish cultural oddity, but I dont know that for certain; I just know that that’s the case in and around my mother’s house. And my mother doesnt know what a blog is or that I have one, since she is convinced that the Internet is a place filled with perverts, child molesters, and Protestants, amongst other sickos, and that I should not spend so much time as I do using the computer, even if most of my computer usage is job-related. She does, however, wear her hat without having to be told, so I guess that’s a good thing.

  34. better safe than sorry

    my mom has been on her own since my father passed away 11 years ago, it took her a few years to really adjust. she lives about three hours from me, she’s never home, she’s always busy, i feel lucky when i get her to come and stay with me for a week a couple of times a year. she likes doing her own thing, it keeps her young. hope your mom bundles up and good for you for thinking of her and sharing. no wonder she still sends you v.d. cards.

  35. Michael

    My mom and I have reversed roles. I reprimand her for not eating right. We don’t talk about my “thing”.

  36. cherchezlafemme

    I admire your ability to make things both poignant and funny at the same time. I am a little upset that your mother apparently leads a more exciting life than I do though but that’s my problem.

  37. Freak Magnet

    I was at a cousin’s wedding, sitting at a table with other cousins (who were siblings) and they were arguing over where their mother was going to live when she got to be “that age”. Nobody wanted her. I looked at them and side, we all fight because we all WANT my mother.

    It’s a shame.

  38. anne arkham

    My dad knows about my blodge, but my mom has no idea.

  39. Lynn

    If I were your mom, I’d be less concerned about your talking to your thing than about the fact that your thing talks back.

  40. bella

    Maybe your mom could have an advice site – whip everyone into shape.

  41. Elisabeth

    I couldn’t write a comment any better than the one Cherchezlafemme (anyone with a French moniker rules in my book) did. But I will comment a bit about Florida. Boca Raton sucks, period. I spent a week there back in 1994 or so, and hated every minute of it. People there have only two topics of conversation: their investment portfolio and their ailments. I will never retire in Florida.

    and yes, you are a hell of a lucky guy to have this cool relationship with your mom. I don’t even like calling mine up on the phone.

  42. Needra

    thanks for the post Neil. it was very humourous… which made up for the sadness that I felt on the opening paragraph.

    Unfortunately… I will never experience the ‘worry’ that you write of. You are very lucky to have such a caring and active mother. Enjoy each other, and Enjoy the memories you both hold….

  43. Kitten

    My grandma calls my blog a “glob,” which I find infinitely amusing.

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