StoryCorps: Growing Up With 'The Mom Every Other Kid Wanted' Growing up, Mary Mills saw her mom, Joyce Carter Mills, spread her joy and love to other kids in the neighborhood. "No other parents were that fun," Mary said. "Everybody wanted to be at our house."

With 'The Mom Every Other Kid Wanted,' She Was An Only Child But Never Alone

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps. And today we hear from 90-year-old Joyce Carter Mills and her daughter Mary. They came to StoryCorps in Santa Monica, Calif., to talk about Mary's childhood growing up in the 1960s. Mary was an only child. But she was never lonely because her house was always filled with kids from the neighborhood. Here, Joyce asks her daughter what made her unique.

JOYCE CARTER MILLS: When you were little, how was I different from the other parents in the neighborhood?

MARY MILLS: I wasn't thinking about the other parents because you were such a perfect parent. One memory I have of you is taking all the little kids to the beach. You would pile us into your Ford Maverick with the black vinyl seats. And you would say, OK, we're going to sing a song together. And since we were all different ages and didn't know the same songs, you thought, everybody knows Christmas carols. So here we are, all these little Black kids in the middle of the summer, sweating to death, singing Christmas carols. That's the kind of parent you were. No other parents were doing that.

J MILLS: No other parents were that crazy.

M MILLS: No other parents were that fun. Everybody wanted to be at our house.

J MILLS: One of my memories is I was in the kitchen and you came in. You were about 7. And you had your friend, Arturo (ph), by the hand. He was 4. You handed him over to me and said, he needs loving, here. And you left him with me. And you went back outside to play. And I didn't know what to do with him. So he and I made cookies (laughter), which everybody enjoyed later.

M MILLS: This is why I say you were the mom every other kid wanted.

J MILLS: You know, it bothers me so much that in this world, we're not kind enough to each other. Every time we were out and I'd see a kid, I'd always find something nice to say. If a little girl had on an outfit like a tutu and it looked like hell, I would say to her, you are too cute. People always say all babies are beautiful. I'm the only one in the world who really believes it (laughter). And my husband said to me one time, what are you going to say about that baby? And I said, that is some healthy baby.

(LAUGHTER)

M MILLS: You've got more than enough love to spread and to share with people.

J MILLS: And what I always said about you was I wanted you to be happy. And I wanted you to be a good person.

M MILLS: Yes, you did. I want to say that that would be in my nature. But I was raised that way. I learned that from you.

J MILLS: I think there are too many of us who have closed ourselves in or off. What goes around is coming around.

(SOUNDBITE OF FABIAN ALMAZAN AND LINDA OH'S "PALOMA")

MARTIN: Joyce Carter Mills talking with her daughter, Mary Mills. Their StoryCorps conversation has been archived at the Library of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF FABIAN ALMAZAN AND LINDA OH'S "PALOMA")

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