Morning Hair, Colic and Mother’s Day Wishes

“There’s a story behind everything…but behind all your stories is always your mother’s story…because hers is where yours begins.” – Mitch Albom, For One More Day

I had a blast interviewing my mom last year on marriage and lasting love, and thought it was time for a followup. Yesterday we chatted by phone about motherhood. Here’s what my ebulient mama had to say, once again revealing tidbits I wasn’t aware of.

August McLaughlin baby picture

Mom and me on Christmas, 1981

August: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a mom?

Caroline: I can tell you the exact moment. I went to the hospital and my sister, Jackie, had just had her first baby. That was the first time I saw a baby up close, and I thought, “That’s what I want!” I always knew I wanted kids, but that sealed the deal.

August: What’s surprised you the most about parenthood?

Caroline: I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Children are so full of wonder… Also, your hair can be standing on end, and you can look in the mirror and think, “OH MY!” Well, you know my morning hair.

August: [laughs] Yes, but don’t worry. I won’t post a picture.

Caroline: You can look just awful, and you go to pick up a baby from the crib, and they think you’re just gorgeous! They love you either way.

August: Aw. You’re welcome!

Caroline: [laughs]

August: What’s one of your favorite funny memories?

Caroline: One night when Dad was working nights, I was sleeping on the couch, and you had colic, you know.

August: So I’ve heard.

Caroline: You were a siren at two or three in the morning. So I took you to the living room and hours later, I was sleeping on the couch. I jolted upright and thought, “Oh no! Where is she? What did I do with her?” And there you were, sound asleep on my shoulder.

August: [laughs] So I did sleep every once in a while.

Caroline: Yep! You could get away on such little sleep, yet were just full of joy. And joy is contagious.

August: I’m glad colic isn’t.

Caroline: Colic seems really long when you’re screaming in the middle of the night. But when it’s done, we’d think, that wasn’t so bad! You sort of forget the bad parts.

August: Ah. Post-colic amnesia. Sweet! Speaking of noise, I get my blurting tendencies from you. Do you remember my first one?

Caroline: Do I… It was just before Kelly was born. You were only about 18 months, and nursing just a couple of times a day. So I gave you a tiny glass of milk and explained that you’re still you’re going to get your milk, but you’re getting it from a cup now because Mama is having another baby. You looked at me and said, “So you’re going to be four mommies?” I said, “Yes.” And you said, “Well there’s only one daddy. And he’s ALL MINE.”

Got 'im!

Got ‘im!

August: Such a giver, I was. Good thing I learned to share.

Caroline: You were a talker very early. Your first words were ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada.’ And you loved books.

August: I remember. You gave me a lot of quiet time with those books.

Caroline: That’s what YOU remember. You didn’t have much quiet time. You always thought you were in there for hours. I just gave you a chill out moment—time to refocus.

August: If you say so. I still need those.

Caroline: One thing you did that drove Aaron nuts, was you’d sit in your car seat and sing about everything you saw out the window, at the top of your lungs. And you’d look at Aaron and he looked like had smoke coming out of his ears.

August: I don’t blame him! But geez. Sometimes a girl gets bored.

Caroline: One of the funniest things, I remember as clear as a bell. It was your first experience with watermelon, at Grandma’s. Kelly had just started talking, and you were probably four. She held up her watermelon to you and said, “What’s this?” And you said, “I don’t know! But it has little black shiny things in it!” You reminded me of two little old ladies chatting about some newfangled thing. Now you can get watermelon all year long, but then it was only available in the summer.

Kelly and Me

Kelly and Me

August: Super cute. Was it different raising Aaron, compared to us four girls? Or were we all just really different?

Caroline: What your sex is was irrelevant. You all have blue eyes and blondish hair, but every one of you is unique. When you have four girls, you can really see the differences—very individual.

I never had a little brother, and wasn’t around little boys very much. I thought they loved cars and other stereotypical stuff, so one year I bought Aaron the cutest set of little cars and trucks from the Sears catalogue. But I realized I’d bought it for me. I liked it, and thought that he should like it. He was nice about it, but he never played with them.

August: [laughs] That’s probably why he and I played “used car lot” later on and tried to sell them off.

Mom and Aaron

Mom and Pirate/Viking Aaron

Caroline: Now little Isabelle goes around with cars and goes, “Vroom, vroom, vroom. Truck!” She loves them.

August: You started having kids very early—20, right? Was it a shock?

Caroline: Yes, twenty. I don’t think that I’d even changed a diaper before. Dad taught me how. I think the biggest shock is to realize that they’re always there. They’re not going anywhere, and they’re your responsibility. It’s kind of like, “Here’s a sponge, and you’re going to teach it what it’s going to soak up.” Obviously kids make your own choices, but what things are you going to offer them? That’s a pretty awesome responsibility.

August: I can imagine. What’s your Mother’s Day wish?

Caroline: Well, I told the girls all I want for Mother’s Day is little handmade cards from the granddaughters, and that’s it.

August: Ha. Good luck with that.

Caroline: My Mother’s Day wish is this. You have chosen not to have kids like Carla has. But you’re a super special aunty to your nieces, and you can mother them if you want to. It’s not right or wrong to have a baby. If someone has them and they don’t want them, I would just love for them to find loving homes for them. There are so many loving people who want children but can’t have them.

August: That’s sweet, Mom. And cool that you’re so open minded. I’ve known for a long time that the only way I’d want to get pregnant is if one of my sisters needed to borrow my womb.

Caroline: [laughs hard] Hope you have lots of storage!

August: Well not all at once! Anyway, I’m glad they’re all fertile.

Caroline: I look at teachers who’ve never married, or never had kids. Their pupils are like their children, and they have more kids than any of us. I also wish that if people wish, they can be a mom. I don’t love you anymore or less because you have babies or you don’t have babies. And I was just telling Dad today that Zoe has an aura about her.

August: She does, doesn’t she? I love the way you tie it all into my dog—because you know that she’s my thing.

Caroline: Well she’s a special girl, my grand-dog-ter.

Zoe, the GREAT!

Zoe, the GREAT!

August: Brilliant and true. I have to head out, but if I find that picture of your morning hair from New York—

Caroline: Putsu!  [Translation: AUGUST JOHNSON MCLAUGHLIN—Don’t you dare!]

Okay, okay… I’ll share her most recent poem instead:

Mama Brain, by Caroline

I looked forward to being a mom with great expectation,
Never realizing there would be days of great consternation.
Some sleepless nights, schedules to juggle, topped off with a bout of flu
Could leave me wondering, what on Earth would I do?
Motherhood is filled with hugs and fun, that’s a fact.
Motherhood is also a careful, loving balancing act.
Like sunshine following the rain, mothers rely on their mama brain.

The Johnson 5 (6 if you consider my beached hair a creature)

The Johnson 5

(6 if you consider my Miami-bleached hair a creature)

What’s your favorite mom memory? What has your mother taught you? Any thoughts or questions for mine? 

 ♥ Have a happy Mother’s Day! ♥

Leave a comment


  1. My best ‘mom memories’ are when we would laugh until we almost peed ourselves. My daughter has the same sense of humour too. Sadly, my mother has Alzheimers now and her wicked sense of humour has left her.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your mother’s disease, and touched by those beautiful memories. Thank you for sharing her with us. 🙂

  2. Catherine Johnson

     /  May 9, 2013

    That’s a lovely interview August. I’m sure every mom can relate to the ‘always there ‘part. You know before they will always be there obviously but not wandering off and doing what you’ve done up until then is quite a shock. They are always there! Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday

  3. Great interview, August. I was one of those kids who never slept through the night too, so I definitely owe my mom a big “thank you” for Mother’s Day. Because my husband has to work on Sunday, we already gave her our gift. We got her a blueberry bush because she wants to extend her garden.

  4. What a cool idea to interview your mom! I might have to borrow that. 🙂 I loved this. Your mom sounds so sweet. My mom writes poetry as well. Definitely got my love of reading from her. 🙂

  5. One of the things my mom taught me that most sticks out was when I didn’t hold the door for her when we were entering a mall during my teen years. Right on the spot, she ripped me a new one about holding the door open for ladies. Twenty years later, that lesson is engrained in my head 🙂

  6. I love this interview, August. You and your mom are so cute. I love her sense of humor about parenting now. My mom could probably share in some sleepless nights. Although it was because I learned early on how to “escape” my crib. And she’d coming running up the stairs freaking out the thing had tipped over or that I was hurt, and instead she’d find me laughing. 😀

  7. I love this interview! You are sooooo lucky to have such a great relationship with your mother. Truly.

  8. I’d love to interview my mother, but, approaching 97, she barely remembers who I am. I think the most important thing she taught me – by example, not preaching – is that relationships are more important than money or things.

  9. The love in that exchange between you and your mom shines through with a soft brilliance. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  10. Love your mom interview. It’s so sweet! My favorite mom memories center around baking together and singing together. What she taught me? Not to be late…because she ALWAYS is…and it drove me nuts. 😉

  11. Raani York

     /  May 9, 2013

    Hi August. This is a wonderful interview and I love it.
    My favorite Mom memory is, when I came home from school once, being something like 9, maybe 10 years old, crying. My teacher had pulled my hair because I had been whispering to my seat neighbor.
    He called my Mom right after I arrived and had told her about it – and she told him off. Holy cow, I’ve never in my life seen my Mom being so pissed. She nearly yelled at him! And believe me – this man never ever touched me again. 🙂
    She’s very supportive in many many ways. And she does have a great sense of humor. Even though we’re very different, I don’t doubt for a minute that she loves me.

    • Aw. That’s such an endearing story, Raani! You’ve got a great mom. Knowing we are loved is one of the world’s greatest gifts. 🙂

  12. August, that was the sweetest, most loving post ever. What a great idea–your mom sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing her with us.

  13. Kourtney Heintz

     /  May 9, 2013

    What a touching interview. I ❤ August and Caroline! You should have a radio show. I'd tune in. 🙂 Happy Mother's Day to both of you. I had colic too August. 😉

  14. Five kids! What a totally cool mom. I love that she gets you and Zoe is her grand dog-ter. So cute! Happy Mother’s Day to your amazing mom and to you, Zoe’s amazing mom.

  15. Now that I have grown up, my favorite Mom memory was simply going to town with her and shopping. At the time, I played and ran around and didn’t spend time with Mom, but she was there.

  16. What a great interview idea to feature your mom. She is a pretty lady! I miss my mom who lives in Florida now and don’t get to see her as much. Can’t wait to call her tomorrow for Mothers Day. I know she put up with a lot from me as I was a handful as a kid.

    • I know the feeling! My parents live 2,000+ miles away in Minnesota. I think we’ve actually grown closer, due to the distance–certainly shows us what we’ve been blessed with. Enjoy that phone call!

  17. Great interview! What a brilliant idea. We owe so much to our mums, and not everyone’s lucky enough to still have their mum with them..

    I live in a different city from my parents and have done since I was 18. But yesterday I drove 200 miles to get to their house – I’m writing this comment from there, on Mother’s Day in NZ – largely coincidence on the timing, but hey!

    It was my mum who got me into writing.and encouraged me with it, when I was a kid. I wouldn’t be writing today if she hadn’t.

  18. kelihasablog

     /  May 14, 2013

    This is great! I can remember so many things and totally relate to much of what your mom told you about. Thanks for the memories 😀

  1. Child-Free Women Myth #1: We Are Smart! Yet Stupid | August McLaughlin's Blog

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