As I reach the milestone of my 10th official Mother’s Day, I find that I appreciate my own mother so much more. The same woman who I viewed in my teens as an idiot who had escaped her village at times, has proven to know a few things after all.
The fact that I haven’t ended up as a sniper on a bell tower or living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere both point to her eventual success, if I do say so myself.
Regardless of all the shelves dedicated to books, guides, and how-to’s on it, parenting is a work in progress – definitely something you live and learn.
Lucky. If you’re lucky, you live it first as a recipient. I suspect more often than not, most of us learned how to parent from our years of on-the-job training in being a child.
We grow up swearing we will do every single last thing differently than our own parents did with us and then, fortunately, we don’t.
As my children grow, I seem to hear my mother’s voice a lot. Strangely, it’s coming out of my mouth. Apparently, I’ve contracted a fairly common phenomena known as Maternal Revenge Syndrome (aka MRS).
All my most sage parenting phrases seem to have come directly from my mentor, also known as “Mom.”
“You’re bored? Scrub the bathroom. That will give you something to do.”
“Life isn’t fair.”
“Look it up.”
“Sound it out.”
“Yes, you can.”
“If all your friends were jumping off bridges would you?”
“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.”
“Because I said so.”
“You just wait.”
“If you break your leg, don’t come running to me.”
Followed shortly by, “I said, ‘maybe.’ If you ask me again the answer becomes no.'”
“Apparently, I was born yesterday?”
“I hope you have a child just like you someday.”
“How ever did I survive all these years without you telling me what to do?”
“Someday you’ll thank me.”
Sing. My own mother, with a flair for the dramatic, would add her own galling little song and dance to this repertoire.
When I complained about my grueling chore schedule (upon being forced to endure such indignities as picking up after myself and rinsing my own cereal bowl, and where, pray tell, is Amnesty International on this issue I ask you?) she would respond by singing The Work Song from Disney’s Cinderella nearly EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Just imagine yourself an easily mortified pre-teen being serenaded by your MOTHER in a voice eerily reminiscent of those cartoon mice singing: “Cinderelly, Cinderelly night and day it’s Cinderelly, make the fire, fix the breakfast, wash the dishes, do the mopping, And the sweeping and the dusting, they always keep her hopping.”
And people wonder why I grew up to make a living out of laughing at myself?
Predictable to the end, I swore up and down I would never visit such indignities upon any child of mine. So what do I say when my own children react in horror at my suggestion that they clear a path through their rooms?
You guessed it: “Cinderelly, Cinderelly … ”
As for that prediction of “someday you’ll thank me,” you’re right mom — I will. Thanks for teaching me the value of hard work, making your own luck, family, having invisible friends (who steal your clothes and order Chinese), laughing in the face of adversity, proving them wrong, making things right, that I can do anything — but that I’m not too good to scrub a toilet, and the untold joy of sharing the lyrics of “the work song” with my own reluctant offspring.
Do. I know Mother’s Day has passed. This column isn’t late; it’s here by design. I don’t want anyone sending a copy of something they clipped out of the newspaper to their mother as a present.
As flattered as I might be, she’s your momma, and that’s just cheap. If you are blessed to have your own mother, a motherly figure, or your child’s mother in your life, and you haven’t done so already, then by all means thank her.
Don’t just lick a stamp and let Hallmark to do it for you. Use your big words. Look it up. Sound it out. Say it. Write it. Sing it if necessary (the Work Song has a nice little tune you could borrow).
Whatever you choose — just do it.
Because I said so.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt would like to take this moment to wave at a camera and say “Hi Mom!” She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; http://kymberlyfosterseabolt.com; or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)
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