Growing up in a 1960’s world of TV role model mothers like June Cleaver gave many young girls the ambition to be a Perfect American Mom . Mrs. Cleaver kept an immaculate house, wore dresses and pearls as everyday attire and had a formal dinner every evening with her husband and two children. She never seemed to have a bad hair day, PMS or have the need to go outside of her spotless home. America loved the clever way she could always see right through Eddie Haskell’s schmoozing politeness. Wouldn’t it have been fun to see inside of her refrigerator? You can bet her fridge was well stocked and well organized. She always had homemade cookies, cake and fresh milk waiting for the boys after school. No green fuzzy leftover casserole or old flat half-empty cans of soda could possibly have been lurking there.
As it turned out, we all had to live in the real world and kiss June Cleaver goodbye. A more up to date and realistic version of the Perfect American Mom is the exhausted woman with unshaven legs wearing broken flip flops who is pushing an overloaded grocery cart with a wilted lettuce leaf stuck to one stubborn wheel. Meanwhile, her children are throwing coupons out of her purse and have opened a box of cereal.
For most mothers, their work outside the home may be much easier than what is always waiting for them when they step through their back door. Mothers have to be janitors (How did this barf get under the bed?), cooks (The steak taste like braunsweiger because it’s a new gourmet steak called “liver.”), tutors (Just because your teacher eats chalk doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention!), inventors (I wonder if coffee filters could be used as toilet paper?), nurses (Did I take a rectal temperature on the dog with that thermometer that’s in your mouth?) and counselors (Tell me again why you felt the need to pierce your lip?) all in one perfect little package.
I wonder what type of person Sigmund Freud’s mother was. As he grew older she probably had to be really careful what she said in his presence for fear of being psychoanalyzed and blamed for everything that was wrong in his life. I bet she spent a lot of time on the couch. What about Albert Einstein’s mother? She probably nagged him continuously to do something with that hair and for his unkempt room filled with little pieces of scrap paper written in code like E=mc2 that she couldn’t decipher. Ben Franklin’s mother most likely feared threatening weather, knowing good and well he would sneak out to fly that dang kite again!
Now, as an empty nester I look in my own refrigerator opening lids and dumping moldy food. I find an old half-eaten chocolate Easter bunny, a sweet reminder of days gone by. Obviously, a June Cleaver I was not, but in the big picture being a good mother is not about refrigerators, it’s all about love. It’s about having the ability to see your heart walk around outside of your body and there’s no doubt that Eddie Haskell’s mother felt the same way.