When Mom Was My Age (#3)

Sandi Ranchoff

Sandi Ranchoff (age 40) | Sandi (2010)

“When Mom Was My Age” is an interview series between daughters and mothers. New interviews appear every Monday. If you would like to participate, contact Jane.

The following interview is with Sandi Ranchoff, interviewed by daughter Christine Polomsky (age 40).

Where did you live?
I lived in Rocky River, Ohio, which was the area of “urban renewal” the mayor said at the time. It was not in the prestigious area of this upper class suburb. We were lower middle class and to find this house was a miracle. I was expecting my second child and we needed more room. I had heard the River school system was excellent.

My dad saw the “for sale” sign and it was reasonable, as it needed work, so we got it. I loved that house. It was an “outer” me as my “inner” me was depleted. Life had been hard but I could renew myself in the garden, yard work, and best of all, crafts to make the house lovely. I worshipped Martha Stewart as I stenciled and sewed. I made picture frames to match homemade pillows and flower boxes. Those were happy moments in creating my own beauty.

Describe your work or a typical day.
I was a nursery nurse full time to support the family. At 40, I was divorced but remarried a week before turning 40. My new husband would move into our home only after the wedding, to set a good example for the girls. We also waited for intimacy until after we were married. Being raised Catholic by strict nuns, my mother’s deathbed wish, I feared hell and pregnancy.

The new day consisted of getting up at 5 a.m. and getting the kids off to school. After work, it was getting the girls’ homework done, getting everyone fed, then downtime with TV and then off to bed. Sunday was church. Life got easier with a spouse as I cut back to part time in the nursery.

What did you worry about?
I am a “worry wart” my father used to say. You name it—mostly my family and their well being, that my marriage would succeed, money. Was it Mark Twain who said he had many problems in life but most of them did not happen? Amen to that!

What did you think the future held for you?
I thought I’d continue nursing, raise my family and I’d never get old. My generation was not Betty Friedan’s followers. Still traditional, family first, the man will take care of you. Wow! I was in for a shock. By caring for others I thought they would care for me. Be helpful, anticipate others’ needs, be for others … Well, it does not work. I was not there for me.

How do you look back at that age (40) now?
Looking back: sad, proud, amazed I did it. Surmounted being a motherless girl to learn how to nurture. Did that well even at work. Went into the psych department, which was a low security unit. I was chosen to do the art therapy group for abuse survivors with the art therapist, and that was what led me to hospice where I could really connect to patients and their families.

I wish I had learned to cherish myself and develop my interests. The day will come when I am a widow and I want to be good company for me. My generation was not taught that. I would say learn balance at age 40. Nurture yourself daily and spend time in nature and be active in the world. I may live until 80 and I want to be a creative force for good!

Posted in When Mom Was My Age.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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Leslie Shimotakahara

What a great way to get to know your mother in a role other than “mother.” I’d love to participate in this project.

Vanessa Wieland

Wow, Christine, your mom is amazing! This is such a great series!


Sandi and Chris,
What a perfect reflection of Sandi,’s life. What a great woman and friend. She has certainly nurtured and cared for many and I am one of those blessed wom,an. I hope dearest friend that you are ttrying to take time to nurture yourself even among all the challanges youface daily. You have certainly grown in grace and spirituality and I treausyre you and pray that we may grow old in friendship.
thank you Chris for writing about yoy’r mom.
love and blessings,