Wise Women Over 50 Series with Doryn's Mom, Arlene

EPISODE 15

This is the first episode of a larger series called “Wise Women Over 50”, where we’ll be joined by dynamic women who have successfully navigated the midlife transition and have come out stronger and wiser. They will be sharing their experiences, their knowledge, their ups and downs and the POSITIVE outcomes of their lives.

What better way to kick of the series, then with Doryn's mother, Arlene. This is without a doubt the funniest episode we’ve had so far. Arlene is an amazing woman, very youthful, open-minded and she’s sharing with us some of her life experiences including going through a divorce, perimenopause, dating in her 40’s and much more.


We really hope this episode will bring a smile on your face and even help you through whatever season you’re in right now.


Check out the Instagram Page Doryn has created for her mom: https://www.instagram.com/mymomarlene/

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Doryn Wallach:

Welcome to It's Not a Crisis, I am your host, Doryn Wallach. I'm an entrepreneur, a mother of two, a wife and a 40-something trying to figure out what is happening in this decade. Why is no one talking about it? I created this podcast to help women in their late 30s and 40s to figure out what is going on in our mind, body, soul and life. We may laugh, we may cry, we may get frustrated. But most importantly, my goal is to make this next chapter of life positive. I'm also full of my own questions, and I'm here to go on this journey with you. So, let's do it together.

Welcome to episode 15 of It's Not a Crisis, I am your host Doryn Wallach and today I have a very special guest with me, my mom. She's rolling her eyes at me. My mom is obviously very special to me, but I love to share her with the world. Because pretty much everyone that she meets falls in love with her. Not all of the time, but most of the time.


Arlene:

Except my first husband.


Doryn Wallach:

Right. She has a flair about her, a kindness that's infectious and brings light into a dull room. I constantly had friends as a child who wanted to come hang out with my mom and it made me jealous, but I totally get it now. You were fun, people just wanted to be around you. There were times as a child that maybe I didn't appreciate her individuality, such as showing up at school pick up in her Jaguar with matching parachute pants, custom sweatshirts, matching Reeboks and gold armband, oh and matching headbands. Every other mother in my own of Wellesley, Mass, where they were wearing sweater sets and pearls in their station wagons. My mom would also get dressed up for charity events a lot, and I would sit on the floor and just watch her and think about how beautiful she was and glamorous. We had this beautiful stairs in our home and she would walk down the stairs ready to go out for an event. And I can just remember being like, "Wow, that's my mom."

As glamorous as she is, I will never, ever be as glamorous because I don't care as much. But the most important thing that my mother taught me at a young age was to be me. Because my mom has always been who she is. She doesn't care what others think about her. She has her own style, she has her own opinions, she has her own way of doing things, her own way of talking to people. And as a young child, what better lesson than to learn that from your mother? One of the things I love is that my mom sort of always had this mentality, and I kind of do too, that if you don't like me, that's fine. I'm not for everyone. I'm a lot like that in a lot of ways. My friends last night were telling me that I got my sense of humor from my mom, which I was like, "Really? I didn't know, oh, that's good." I didn't know I was funny. My dad is also very funny.

Anyway, I started an Instagram handle for my mom and she hates it, she's so embarrassed by it. But I started it randomly because I just wanted to document all the funny moments of my mom and just let the world see her too and love her as much as I love her. It's called My Mom Arlene. I don't update it often, but the engagement is so amazing. People love seeing the pictures and I love getting the comments and it's ... When I have time to have a picture, it has to be something worth posting, I put it up there. And it just always puts a huge smile on my face. So, I thought, "Well, we need to bring her live." So that not only my podcast followers, but the My Mom Arlene followers can hear some things.

This also, I want to mention, is starting a series that I'm beginning. It's called Wise Women Over 50. And my mom is the very first one that I'm interviewing for this, but I have some other amazing women that I'm going to be doing this with too. This is episode one, or I guess series one or the first series of Wise Women Over 50. The most important lesson my mom taught me was to be a kind person, ask how people are, and really listen and be a good friend, give back to those in need, be independent, be competent.

My mom would pull over the car as a child and I would roll my eyes and she would make me stop and get out of the car and listen to the sound of the birds or smell the fresh air and just take in life's little beautiful moments. I'll always remember that. And by the way, I try that with my kids and they're like, "No, I don't want to get out of the car." And I actually appreciated it, even if I rolled my eyes, I actually really did. And there's so many other things that I'm forgetting, so without further adieu, mom, say hello to my audience.


Arlene:

Hello.


Doryn Wallach:

There is no structure to this podcast, so we don't know where it's going to go. It'll be an interesting one. I think the first thing we're going to begin with before we get to your wisdom.


Arlene:

Oh, yes.


Doryn Wallach:

Tell us a little bit about where you grew up, your siblings, talk a little bit about your childhood.

Arlene:

Not in detail though, right?


Doryn Wallach:

Maybe not in all details.


Arlene:

Okay. Yeah. I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, about 15, 20 minutes outside of Boston as a child in the '50s. When I look at it now, I think it was an absolute utopia that I grew up in. It was so the way you see in the movie in the 1950s. I just feel badly that my children never got the experience the same thing. Times are so different now. I had two older brothers, I was the only girl and the youngest, Mark and Larry. My middle brother died at 50, unfortunately. He was the one I was very close with, and my mom and dad. My dad worked a lot, my mother was very unusual. She was very unusual. She was about 5'8". In the '30s and '40s and '50s she did yoga five days a week. I was embarrassed to tell anyone she did yoga because no one even know what yoga was at that time.

I used to sit on the floor while she went to the acupuncturist once a week. She believed in the paranormal, so we used to go into Boston very frequently and meet with warlocks and mediums and mirror readers.


Doryn Wallach:

How old were you?


Arlene:

When I started doing that?


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah.


Arlene:

10.


Doryn Wallach:

That's normal.


Arlene:

I thought it was normal. I actually thought it was normal.


Doryn Wallach:

What else?


Arlene:

Oh, and she always loved to have her clothes made. Growing up, she and her mother, my grandmother, I used to always be with them all the time, we spent lots of time together. We'd go into Boston and we'd go to my grandmother's favorite dress maker. They would pick out fabrics and they would design with the designer their gowns for different events. I just loved it. I used to sit on the floor and imagine that one day I would be able to do that. I just thought it was very glamorous.


Doryn Wallach:

I have to say this, it's not because I'm her daughter, my mom chose to be a stay at home mom for most of her life and did a lot of charity work. But she is insanely talented at dress design. She used to design hats, you've designed interiors, you've designed jewelry, which is one of the reasons I learned how to design jewelry. Extraordinarily talented. Had you done any of those professionally, there's no doubt in my mind you would've been extraordinarily successful.


Arlene:

Thank you, honey.


Doryn Wallach:

You obviously learned that from your mother.


Arlene:

Yeah. Yeah, and I remembered a lot of things that my grandmother mostly, taught me about design. I really did. We're at a different time when I got married. I was married at 20, in 1967. And at that time, it was the beginning of the social revolution. But most of the women I knew wanted to stay home and have babies, that was our goal, which I cringe about now because I can't believe all I wanted to do was do that. And I did it very happily, but there was so many other-


Doryn Wallach:

But were you really happy?


Arlene:

Yeah.


Doryn Wallach:

Oh, that's nice.


Arlene:

I was. I really was.


Doryn Wallach:

That's good.


Arlene:

But later in life, like everything, you look back and I say to myself, "God I could've done something a little more artistic. I could've maybe designed clothes, I could've been an interior designer." I did work for an interior designer, but it's not the same. There were things I could've done with my life even later, but I just never did. I feel badly about that. But there wasn't the push for women to do that as much as now. It wasn't embarrassing if you didn't have a career. My son once said on the bus everyone was telling what their mothers did for a living and he said, "Oh my God, what am I going to say? Oh my God." So, I said, "Tell them I'm a nuclear scientist." And he was very young and he didn't really understand how moronic that would sound. So, he said, "My mommy's a nuclear scientist."


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, I guess I've never heard that story.


Arlene:

Oh yeah. Yeah. I don't think David knew what he was talking about, but he was embarrassed that I didn't have a career. And of course now I feel badly thinking back on it. But what can I do? It was a different time. I'm sure-


Doryn Wallach:

Well, you shouldn't feel badly. You were-


Arlene:

I do.


Doryn Wallach:

... a mom, a stay at home mom, which is one of the hardest jobs. I've done both and it's much harder in my opinion than going to a job every day.


Arlene:

Oh, I understand. But there's other areas of my life I would've been fulfilled in, had I done those things. But it was never encouraged, never.


Doryn Wallach:

And today, women feel that they have to do both.


Arlene:

I know, which is impossible.


Doryn Wallach:

It's impossible to do both.


Arlene:

I agree.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, it's really unfair. So, my daughter is 13 and she definitely thinks I'm embarrassing. But my mom was embarrassing, yes, but really immature in many ways. For example, I can remember we went to a hotel once in San Francisco and my mom was walking around changing everybody's do not disturb to please make up the room, switching people's shoes that were to be polished in different areas. And then I think, I'm almost positive you bought water balloons and threw them over the balcony.


Arlene:

No, they were just regular balloons.


Doryn Wallach:

Oh, they were just regular balloons.


Arlene:

That I filled with water.


Doryn Wallach:

I was mortified, and I was nine.


Arlene:

I cannot believe I did that.


Doryn Wallach:

Or we would go to a restaurant and she would unscrew the salt and I'd be like, "Mommy, what are you doing?" And she'd say, "Well, it's going to be funny because the next person who comes, they're going to pour the salt on and all the salt's going to fall out on their plate. It'll be so funny." And I'd be like, "Mommy ..." I was a little bit of a rule follower. I'm like, "You can't do that." I was like, "That's not okay." And she'd be like, "Oh stop, Doryn." You used to call me square. "You're so square."

Or the time we drove by the Ritz Carlton in Boston on Newbury Street, I grew up outside of Boston, I was with a friend of mine and my mom said, "Watch this, watch this." And she opened the window, and she said to the valet or whatever, she said, "Oh sir, I'm looking for directions on how to get somewhere." And she reached out while he was speaking and took his hat, threw it in the car, and was like, "Go, go, go!" And she just starts going and driving down the street.


Arlene:

It was this high with a feather.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, it had a huge feather on it. I mean, it's amazing that I was a relatively normal teenager.


Arlene:

Oh, very normal.


Doryn Wallach:

I think I was mortified.


Arlene:

No, I'm not proud of it. Actually at my age now, when you tell me these stories I absolutely cringe. And I said, "Oh my God, I was so crazy when I was young." I wasn't young, I was in my 40s.


Doryn Wallach:

You weren't that young.


Arlene:

I was 12 at the time, but I was in my 40s and a mother of two. I can't believe I did those things. I don't know what-


Doryn Wallach:

Why did you do those things?


Arlene:

Because it was funny.


Doryn Wallach:

You were having fun.


Arlene:

But as a teenager I did things like-


Doryn Wallach:

You were always-


Arlene:

I'm not proud of it, but I did.


Doryn Wallach:

No. But I mean, imagine growing up, it was interesting. But my mom's always been very adventurous and spontaneous and immature. When I was talking to a few of my childhood friends last night they also said you get your adventure and spontaneity from your mom. You were always up for something. I don't know, we'd randomly go do things together. I can't even think of anything specifically. But the other thing is, mom has this amazing sense of style, gorgeous sense, and it's her own style, it's nobody's style. I appreciate that so much.


Arlene:

Because nobody else wants it, that's why it's only my style, no one wants it.


Doryn Wallach:

But she, from the time I can remember, she would walk down the street with me and people would either stop her and say how fabulous she looked or they would look at her or stare at her. And sometimes I didn't know if they were staring at her in a negative way or-


Arlene:

Boston's very conservative.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, Boston is very conservative, so you definitely stuck out.


Arlene:

I mean, I didn't wear gold and things like that.


Doryn Wallach:

No, she was ... just really fashionable, amazing taste.


Arlene:

But honey, if you dress any way ... if you deviate from the norm at all in Boston, the Boston I grew up in, everybody stared at you.


Doryn Wallach:

In every capacity, by the way, it's not just in clothes.


Arlene:

No, but it's true. I don't know if it's still like that.


Doryn Wallach:

I don't know, it was like that when I-


Arlene:

But it used to be. I literally was the only person in my entire family that wore any makeup whatsoever, it's the truth.


Doryn Wallach:

Really?


Arlene:

Not one person.


Doryn Wallach:

And it's so good that you don't wear any now.


Arlene:

Oh, yeah, I don't believe in it. It's very cheap. I don't empty garbage without makeup on.


Doryn Wallach:

That's true, she puts lipstick on before she goes into her garage where nobody sees her. She'll come from dinner and put lipstick on.


Arlene:

My mother always told me, "A woman can just wear beautiful dark sunglasses with red lipstick and you look like a movie star. No one else knows what's going on." And I think she was right.


Doryn Wallach:

Do you remember the days where I'd miss the bus and I'd be like, "Mom, you have to take me to school." And you'd be so angry because you'd still be sleeping and you'd hop out of bed and you'd put on a fur coat, red lipstick and sunglasses to drive, to drop me off at school.


Arlene:

I learned that from my mother, yeah.


Doryn Wallach:

And I'd be like, "Why are you putting lipstick on? No one's going to see you. I'm going to get out of the car." And you'd be like, "No, no, no, no, no." I have such a vision of your big sunglasses. By the way, I go with that theory on red lipstick. I can be in a bad mood and I put it on, and it makes me feel better. I can not have any makeup on at all, but I put red lipstick on, I love red lipstick.


Arlene:

I agree.


Doryn Wallach:

And I haven't been wearing it because of masks.


Arlene:

I think red lipstick is a woman's special secret. I think it makes you feel very glamorous.


Doryn Wallach:

I just watched the video you sent me on the history of red lipstick, which is really interesting. Because it used to be considered kind of slutty.


Arlene:

Like a trollop, they used to say.


Doryn Wallach:

A trollop, right.


Arlene:

That's an old fashioned word my mom used to use.


Doryn Wallach:

And I do think there's probably a generation of women that still think that.


Arlene:

Oh, I'm sure.


Doryn Wallach:

I've seen the look when I wear red lipstick from older-


Arlene:

Are you serious?


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, it's funny.


Arlene:

May I say one thing here?


Doryn Wallach:

You may.


Arlene:

You were saying how I embarrassed you so much because I spoke to your teacher about body building.


Doryn Wallach:

Oh my God. Oh, no, no, no, no. You didn't just speak to my teacher about body building, you used to have coffee with her, my first grade teacher to talk about body building. We haven't talked about the body building part yet.


Arlene:

I was just saying, my daughter thought I was so embarrassing. She doesn't know the meaning of embarrassing because she never unfortunately knew my mom because my mom died in her 50s unfortunately. So, Doryn never knew her. My mom was really tall, she always wore capes and she wore her hair in a french twist and big tortoise shell glasses, and she carried ... This was the most embarrassing, a very long cigarette holder. I can't even begin to tell you the embarrassment, especially as a teenager. She'd wear black, if she was wearing a black outfit she had tortoise shell to wear with camel's hair and white to wear in the summer with linen. It was so humiliating.


Doryn Wallach:

And gold lame, right?


Arlene:

She never wore gold lame.


Doryn Wallach:

As bathing suits. Didn't you say she-


Arlene:

No, her cigarette case was gold-


Doryn Wallach:

I thought you said she wore gold lame bathing suits.


Arlene:

Oh yeah, oh my God. Right. Yeah, that was the only-


Doryn Wallach:

So, she didn't have a traditional mommy either.


Arlene:

Oh my God. And she'd come into the school, into high school like this with a big camel's hair cape on and a wide brim hat with a long tortoise shell cigarette holder. Oh my God. I used to cringe. I used to run into the bathroom and stand up on the toilet seat so no one would know where I was. And if she thought she saw one of my girlfriends she'd go, "Darling, how are you?" And I'd just go, "Oh my God." So, I didn't even want to be seen as my mother's daughter. Now, of course, I would think it was fabulous. But when you're 15, it's beyond humiliating.


Doryn Wallach:

I kind of understand what you're talking about.


Arlene:

I was not like my mom.