First of all, I was born in the deep South in 1950, another world. Mother was determined to raise us to be above criticism. This was hard on me, a kid quite comfortable with criticism. Our language was subject to all kinds of boundaries. The first thing that set us apart from the great unwashed was that we “wee-weed” and “gee-geed”. I’ve met other prissy kids who “wee-weed”, but I have yet to meet another “gee-geeer”. (g as in go) See, there’s not even a right way to spell it. Being a “gee-geer” in a world full of “do-doers” is rough. On top of that, I grew up with a bunch of renegade cousins who were too bad to “pee-pee”. They “pissed, do-dooed, ka-ka ed, dookied,” and even worse, they “shat.” They said these words in public, in front of their parents! Mother led us to believe they were exceptions…

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I Never Claimed to be Donna Reed!

My daughter zoned in on the Donna Reed Show when I started falling short in the motherhood department.  In case you don’t remember, Donna Reed was the perfect wife and mother, always prissing around in cinch-waist dresses with petticoats, high heels and jewelry.  She played bridge, called her friends Mrs. So and So, and kept an immaculate house.  If Donna had slipped in the mud, she’d have fallen daintily and ended up with a charming smudge on her cheek, whereas, I’d have busted my butt, ripped my britches, and farted.  No one would have been able to help me for laughing.  I could have fallen in a rose bed, and come out smelling like manure.

When Donna’s children lapsed into naughtiness, she’d rein them in with an understanding, quizzical smile, knowing they’d fall at her feet and confess because she was such a good mother. They only got in cute scrapes, like maybe accepting two dates for the prom or losing a library book, never anything involving calls from the school counselorf or requests for bail. The queen of her home, effortless meals appeared on her dining table out of the air, no budgeting, shopping, or messy kitchen to consider.  Naturally, her handsome husband adored her.  Even though he was a doctor, it was clear he’d married “up.”

Donna never lost her cool when her children announced they needed a million dollars for a school trip as she dropped them off for school.  I have been known to be annoyed.  Should Donna’s kids want to eat what she’d cooked, she’d coax them along in the name of nutrition. If my kids didn’t want to eat what I’d put on the table, I told them, “Fine, that leaves more for the rest. It won’t be that long till breakfast.”  Donna was vigilant about nutrition, whereas,  I figure kids eat if they get hungry.

I can lay so many of my motherly shortcomings at Donna’s door, but thank goodness, she’s gone and I’m still bumbling along.