When your mama didn’t raise you right

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All of my columns carry alternate titles (if only in my head). What the nice typesetter might call it and what I call it is often something else entirely.
The working title of this column is obvious: “What happens when you’re mama doesn’t raise you right.”
Now that I’ve gotten my mother’s attention, I’ll confess that I think my mother raised me right. I mean she had some suspect DNA to work with AND it was the ’70s.
The problem is that well into my 30s I have managed to maintain the spirit, sense of drama and utter lack of self-control of a 13-year-old girl. (No disrespect to any lovely and self-possessed 13-year-old girls intended or implied).
Sassy. How else to explain that while I struggle mightily to be a role model for my children, I fail so miserably at it? My mother (she of the aforementioned struggling to raise me right fame) spends an inordinate amount of time reminding me that while I tend to THINK I have a “poker face” and remain cool, calm and collected under duress, I am very much mistaken.
When angered or annoyed, I have a certain narrowing of the eye and set to the jaw that virtually guarantees that anyone in the immediate vicinity becomes convinced I am quite possibly rabid. I am also prone to mood swings, pouting and sassy back-talk. See what I mean? Thirteen-year-old girl.
Hard. I want to be the bigger person, I really do, but sometimes it’s just so HARD.
It is extremely important to me (and me alone) that we not have clutter on the dining room table. Ever. I barely tolerate dinner plates on there.
To my mind, dining room table clutter is the hallmark of complete anarchy. Therefore, I aim to make my home happy by terrorizing any family member foolish enough to besmirch the blessedly empty plane of the tabletop.
Anything left out will broadcast its repulsiveness in my face until I question their love for me and then passive-aggressively act like it’s no big deal until I can pull it out of my arsenal of resentment and use it to prove a point on how they have wronged me.
You might call this “playing the martyr.” I call it “strategy.”
Normal people go shopping for a winter coat and – get this – come home with a WINTER COAT. I am pathologically unable to do that. I always end up shopping for a winter coat when it actually turns cold.
Everybody knows you are supposed to purchase your winter accoutrements in the soul-deadening heat of July. So I, foolish child that I am, set out in late fall to purchase a winter coat.
Turns out you can get a winter coat during the winter in two places: some high-end sporting goods store where it will cost something like $50,000 or a monolithic fashion warehouse prominently (and perversely) proud of the term “Factory,” which despite its claims of factory-ism, possesses a grand total of zero coats that would suit me.
I did find a coat, eventually, and so maybe I will not freeze to death this winter, but we’ll just have to see, won’t we? I will not be mollified with having finally found the coat. I must hold a petulant grudge long past the point of reason over the senselessness of the search.
Harm. I want to be known as one of those laid-back, devil-may-care, unflappable types, but that is simply not my nature. You’d have better success teaching my dog to dance.
I think I may have to hang up “role model” and aim a little bit lower. I’m thinking “just do no harm.”
Our son, age 10, recently received a drum set because my husband and I are insane. He, as 10-year-olds are prone to do, was banging away on it in what might someday sound a little bit like music. Maybe.
Our daughter, a 9-year-old twinkle with a sparkle in her eye and love in her heart for all creation, drew herself up ramrod straight, threw a hand on her hip and said sternly and with no end of exasperation, “My ONLY QUIET TIME and you have to START with that!”
He responded by sharing with her his opinion of her musical critique. Shockingly, he wasn’t entirely flattering to her.
She huffed her breath and exclaimed: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything AT ALL!” and punctuated her last two proclamations of peace with a swift punch squarely to her brother’s arm.
Apparently, a right hook is a heck of a lot “nicer” than verbal abuse. Our eyes met, role model to recipients: He, she and I.
Then we all three rolled our eyes and laughed and laughed and laughed. Their mama obviously didn’t raise them right, either.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt worries that her face will freeze like that. She welcomes comment c/o lifeoutloud@comcast.net; http://kymberlyfosterseabolt.com
; or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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