Sunday, January 30, 2005

Name a card game after me

My mom, an immensely successful, impressively educated professional, spent her summers tutoring Meg and I in what she considered diminishing, crucial domestic skills. To my mother, who has more letters after her name that I’ll ever be able to correctly recite, a thorough household training was essential to a proper upbringing.

Which, when you fold stereotypes into the recipe, doesn’t really make all that much sense.

Meg and I tried to tell her that a true suit-wearing professional should only care about her office location and her job title. A highly unsuccessful argument. As spoiled suburban brats, it was one of our biggest failures (second only to our failure to convince Mom and Dad to buy us a trampoline).

It was – it is – important to Mom that Meg and I not be The Girl Who Has to Bring Her Blouse to the Cleaners to Have a Button Sewn On.

Buttons were Mom’s gateway drug.

Buttons to chocolate chip cookies to thank you notes to setting a proper table to pancakes to arranging a cookie tray to German chocolate cake to sewing (“My grandchildren will not wear store-bought Halloween costumes, thankyouverymuch.”) to the Norwegian table prayer to appetizers to salads to meals consisting of a minimum of four courses and a handful of ingredients with names we couldn’t even pronounce.

At the time, I learned grudgingly.

These days, I boast.

The majority of my friends and peers can’t bake a peanut butter cheesecake; they can’t sew their own pajama pants. I can do both.

On the same day.

I’ll admit: it’s fun being June Cleaver. It’s amusing to watch the face of an unsuspecting victim when I tell her of our extremely affectionate family’s food-is-love policy.

What isn’t fun is thinking of why Mom taught us her domestic secrets. She’s never vocalized, but deducing her intentions isn’t difficult.

She didn’t want us just to be The Girl Johnny Brought Home. Or just The Smart Girl Johnny Brought Home. Or The Smart, Athletic Girl Johnny Brought Home. Or The Smart, Athletic, Funny Girl Johnny Brought Home.

Her girls would be smart and athletic and funny and polite and worldly and mix up a mean motherfucking batch of fudge.

But what I think Mom wanted most was for us to be brought home. To be wanted and loved by another family.

It’s where I’m sprinting to catch up. Running through waist-deep water. Wearing cement blocks on my ugly feet.

Today is Mom and Dad’s 29th wedding anniversary. Mom was 19 when they married, Dad was 20.

I know that Mom and Dad's relationship is atypical. But it still makes a kid feel like an old maid.


Plantation said...

There now. Ya see? You've got a million super qualities. You've recognized them. You *are* quite the eligible one! I believe it and I'm startin' to think you recognizing it, too.

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