My Mother – Myself

As Mother’s day approaches, I remember my mom. We were different people with different styles. Or were we?

Published in 2013

The alter ego that I am most comfortable with never presents herself to my offspring. She is a hybrid of Kathryn Hepburn and Mother Theresa and does not cook or take care of sick people. They are all well advanced into adulthood, but somewhere indelibly imprinted in their psyche’s are various actions I committed when they were children.

Occasionally I get a hint of the person my kids believe I am and I don’t like it. They rank me somewhere between Betty Crocker, Aunt Bea and Joan Crawford’s “Mommy Dearest.” The person I was required to be when they were growing up, no longer exists.

The Moms that no one knows are rebelling. You know, the one who isn’t thrilled about getting a blender for Christmas. The one who throws the milk away before the expiration date. Then there is the mom who always wanted a tattoo and goes and gets one.

Moms who nixed senior year keg parties can drink her out of shape kiddos way under the table. Moms who now sports low-cut jeans without a muffin top drew the line when their teenage daughters allowed way too much of their anatomy to show up between them and their Calvins. She trained her female offspring not to glorify men, but unabashedly ogled the UPS delivery guy’s bun. Any mention of mom’s sexuality is strictly off-limits.

Most will not admit it, but parents are liars. We had to be in order to parent. Had we told the unvarnished truth, our presentation would have been mostly gray instead of black and white. Running with scissors would have had a knockout clause.

The character of June Cleaver caused more harm to American moms than any other icon. I am sure somewhere in her heart, she wanted to wear slacks and ditch the pearls. She would have divorced Ward, banned Eddy from her house, told Wally to get over himself and sent the Beaver to a shrink.

My kids know all of my irritating habits, but I‘ll bet they will be surprised when they discover something I did not do. To wit:

Child 1: your baby book is three-quarters complete.

Child 2: your baby book is one-quarter complete.

Child 3: A baby book was never purchased for you.

 

Published in 2014

“The woman was a saint” is a phrase often used to describe one’s mother. Saints are boring. Are children brought up by saints happier, saner and more confident as adults? I wonder.

Mother was not a saint; she was difficult; in fact, she pissed off a lot of people. She could be tactless and inconsiderate one minute and comforting and thoughtful the next. Strong willed and high-spirited, she did not bend; she saw compromise as a sign of weakness. Mother provided many opportunities for personal growth and developing skills in self-confidence.

She was beautiful and had a sense of entitlement that often accompanies beauty. She dismissed unseemly behavior with a smile and a wave of her hand, “I’ve been that way all of my life” and that was the end of that.

She did not care about social customs; she created her own and followed them.

She did the usual mom things; read to me, baked cookies and sat up all night to finish hemming a prom dress. A teacher who made the unfortunate mistake of treating me unfairly received a scorching diatribe they were not likely to forget. Measles, mumps, and chickenpox were another matter. She got queasy taking care of the sick.

She was a walking contradiction. She hounded city hall until the city provided sanitation services for black homeowners yet practiced selective racism.

She played card games with her grandchildren and delighted in jeering when she beat them.

She braved harrowing rides on her granddaughter’s go-cart, yet refused to get on an airplane.

She discovered a needy and neglected elderly woman in her church and gave her money every Christmas. She ignored suggestions that the woman may require funds before Christmas.

I don’t remember her telling me she loved me, but I knew that she did. It was not until  I reached adulthood, that I realized it is o.k. to acknowledge there were many times when I did not like her, but I always loved her.

 

 

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