I’ve written, a time or two, about my horrible mother and the awful things she did to us (like lying about bread and telling us the bug museum was boring) Seriously, our childhoods were so miserable, so Annie-like, that Chris, in a fit of anger at being sent to his room for punishment, scrawled “I hate mommy” in mad black crayon of newly-learned letters on the back of his dresser. Mom discovered this act of rebellion years later when we were moving to a new house and she thought it was funny. She told all her friends and they all laughed because they were probably also heartless, evil people.
I recently had the opportunity to play Mom, which is like playing dress-up only with more responsibility, for a week. Noelle’s husband took her to Las Vegas for her birthday and I stayed in their house with their children and their diabetic cat and made sure no one died. Because, really, if you boil it down to the very basics, a parent’s job is to make sure no one dies. I totally rocked that job but in doing so, I had to reminisce on my own early life, had to remember the lessons doled out by my own awful parent in order to pass along wisdom and essential knowledge (such as: if you don’t do your homework, you can’t go outside and play with your friends)
All that thinking led to a shocking realization: while my mother was obviously abusive and mean, she sort of did a really good job at raising her kids. It took me this long to see that not only did we NOT die while in her care, but we can also do a ton of things that many of our peers don’t do. We’re a tough little pack of white-trash, redneck hooligans who can garden, preserve food, pluck chickens, cook food, balance a checkbook, budget a household, mend broken animals, whip out witty/scathing one-liners like we have hundreds to spare, overuse our vast imaginations, completely ignore trends and fashions and look good doing it, read, laugh at ourselves (and everyone else), and stand up for ourselves. We can do these things because we’ve been doing them since we were the ages Noelle’s kids are now. Back then, we also had to make our own lunches, clean the dinner dishes, wash and fold our own clothing, buy our own toiletries, entertain ourselves and a bunch of other crap that was supposed to teach us responsibility and self-reliance, though I don’t think that’s why we did those things. I think it was because Mom got tired of doing stuff for four rotten urchins and told us to learn to take care of ourselves. And we did. And we can. Because our mother taught us how.
Also – we are all very classy because we are apples who have fallen way too close to the tree.