Motherhood didn’t come easily to me. When my youngest child left home, I’d been a mother for twenty-seven years. Despite my marathon run, no one mistook me for June Cleaver (or in modern parlance, Mia Farrow and Angelina Jolie.) Not to say that having several dozen children automatically makes you a super mom, but those two seem to do all right. Well, okay, Mia did lose serious track of one daughter, who ended up marrying Mia’s husband, but that’s life in the fast lane. To be fair, they did live in separate homes in two different states, so losing track is somewhat understandable.
Supermoms aside, my sum total mental preparation for motherhood consisted of this thought: At least I know what not to do. It worked pretty well. All of them had to have therapy, of course, but each one finally found that elusive inner child, or is it the child within?
Doesn’t matter. I’m happy to report all of my progeny have managed to:
There you go. Twenty-seven years of relentless mothering and I have three fully integrated beings. Drum roll and a glass of wine puhleeze.
I gave my children unusual names, due to a genetic defect I inherited. My parents named me and my six siblings after flowers. My brothers hated it, especially William. His official name, of course, was Sweet William, which no one outside of the family knew until his first grade teacher held roll call on opening day at school. He never got over it.
“Embrace your animal totem,” I advised him last year.
“Embrace this,” he responded.
In spite of the angst us flower children dealt with from birth on, I decided to name my three with unusual names too, not to be cruel, but to be sure I remembered them. My name is Daisy, and because I am the youngest of eight, neither parent could dredge up my floral moniker on any given day. I understand that they could forget Shasta Daisy, but really, Daisy wasn’t that hard, especially since I plastered pictures of daisies all over the house and wore one in my lapel at all times.
“Hey you,” was something I never wanted to say to my children.
This book consists of conversations I‘ve had with them, mostly when they were between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. The incidents related have become fodder for the holiday get-togethers, with each child trying to outdo the other with his or her Mom Story. (Not even fifteen therapists could get any of them to let go of sibling rivalries.)
Why the rush to regale the other relatives with things their mom did and said while they were growing up? Because they all saw brilliant therapists who told them their mom was pretty funny after all, and maybe they should learn to laugh.
My background story, briefly (196 words):
Like millions of children, I had the typical dysfunctional upbringing: an assortment of alcoholics, crackpots, clowns, psychotics and Republicans. And like millions of children, I looked at the ones who were in control and knew I had to come up with a survival plan.
As crazy and benignly incompetent as my parents were, each possessed a fabulous sense of humor. The acorn didn’t fall far from the tree in that department. I learned early on the wonders of cynicism, how to make people laugh, and how to flippantly disregard any and all abuse that came my way.
By the time I graduated from high school, my persona was deeply entrenched. I was free to live my life sans dysfunction, but by then I didn’t know how to do that without being a wise ass.
My children, all of whom thought I was the original role model for “Mommy Dearest,” were raised with a series of one-liners. They hated it then, they love it now. At least I think they do. I haven’t caught any of them rolling their eyes lately. Then again, they all moved 3,000 miles away from me as soon as they could drive.
P.S. I failed at Motherhood 101, but I have a doctorate in Grandmotherhood. I became a saint when my first granddaughter was born. This provides even more grist for the mill. My children observe my interactions with the grandchildren, and scratch their heads.
And so it goes. But that’s another book.
© Copyright 2016 Paulette Zander. All rights reserved.