Mother's Day, The Ripken Way
Long-time Aberdeen resident Vi Ripken shares her thoughts on Mother's Day and being a mom.
Aberdeen’s best-known mom, Vi Ripken, sat down to chat with Patch about Mother’s Day, raising a brood of four with her husband’s baseball career, and what it’s like seeing those kids being parents.
Considering the holiday falls during baseball season, “We never did anything totally special. Your calendar was pretty much set, so we pretty much went and did whatever we worked out at the time,” Ripken said.
“The kids would usually do something like kids do, you know," she said. "Even if it was to grab some wildflowers out in the field and bring them in.
“I always kind of felt I’m a mother every day of the year. I guess 99% of the time I felt appreciated. I didn’t think we needed one day to all come together. I felt, and I feel, I am what I am. And, without me, they wouldn’t have been here, and they know it. So there you go.”
When the kids were small, family time was dictated by the baseball season.
“With our schedule in the early years, you know, it was make-do," she said. "It was however it fit into the schedule, that’s what we did.”
If Rip, her husband Cal Ripken, Sr., was home, they would go out to dinner with the kids. “It was just a little together time.”
Ripken recalled the school projects the kids would bring home, such as cards, a notepaper holder crafted from paper plates, and items made from clothespins, beans and little plant seedlings. “It made them very inventive,” she said.
When asked if she recalled a “best” Mother’s Day, Ripken said, “Not one of them stands out over the other. I never looked for anything ultra-special.”
Her first Mother’s Day happened in Pensacola, barely two months after her daughter Ellen’s arrival. Since that was a while ago, she groaned and chuckled as it tested her memory. “I’m pretty sure if my husband was home, and not on the road, we probably went to the ballpark and then out to dinner," she said.
“And if he was on the road, I’m pretty sure he probably called me. We would always joke and I’d say, ‘I’m not your mother.’ ”
As far as Ripken’s current Mother’s Days go, sometimes she goes out to brunch or lunch with one of her kids.
“I’ll get some calls and some cards, and that’s just fine with me," she said. "I’m pretty sure I’m remembered.”
When asked if she was going to treat herself on Sunday, she smiled and said, “What I should be doing is paying my bills.”
No great gala for the day was in the works. “If I don’t hear of any plans, I might treat myself to brunch at the (Hollywood) Casino,” she said.
When asked how she fared with the one-armed bandits, she said, “I certainly haven’t won any of those big jackpots."
As for watching her children now raising their own children, Ripken said, “You know what, I just look at it and say, ‘When did this happen?’ You know time doesn’t stand still. And, I see them now and I look back and I’m like, ‘Did I ever go through that?’ You know you did. I look at it that that’s the way it should be.”
“I think we all think we did the right thing when we were parents of young kids.”
As she observes her children’s parenting style, “I’ll even say it to the one involved, and say, ‘You didn’t get away with that’, but they probably got away with something else.”
On the flip side of the coin, “They might not let their kids get away with something now that I let them get away with.”
“I think it’s only natural to compare sometimes, but I just think it’s a total learning experience. Of course, situations now are different than when I was raising my kids or when my parents were raising me. There are just different things out in the world now that we never would’ve thought of. Who knows how I would’ve handled what’s going on now," she said.
“I truly believe that the vast majority of parents are good parents. The vast majority,” she added. “I just think they do what they think is right and after that you just keep your fingers crossed.
“You can pick up a book on how-to," she continued, "but you don’t know how-to until you experience it, because every situation is different.”
“You can only hope you instill a little bit of your beliefs, or whatever, that they’re going to carry with them. They may not agree with you, but they’ll carry it with them. You just keep your fingers crossed that something worked.”
As far as having four kids who got along, for the most part, “Our little universe was us,” when the kids were little, she said. And then when they were traveling, “They pretty much depended upon each other for friendships and making fun.”
Asked if she could have ever imagined that one of her children, Cal Ripken, Jr., would become a living legend, she said, “No, never. I’m not even sure I believe it now.”
When the scouts started coming around looking, “I said, 'Okay, he’s got a chance at being a pro ball player.' Maybe it was stubborn motherly whatever, I always knew they (Cal and Billy Ripken) were going to get to the big leagues.”
Because she always knew those two boys had the drive and discipline to make it in the pros, “that when they did make it, it didn’t seem the great thing that a lot of other people thought,” she recalled.
“My theory was that if you want to do it and you put the time in, the odds are with you," she said. "You’re going to make it.”
With that sort of motherly faith, how could a kid go wrong?