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YOU KNOW YOU’RE A GOOD MOTHER WHEN…

Do you know what I discovered this week?  Mother’s Day is coming.  I hate this bogus holiday!  It’s that ONE DAY a year that mothers get celebrated for something we should be applauded for every freakin’ day of our children’s existence.  What we manage to get done in a lifetime of rearing kids boggles my mind. My kids are in their 30s, and I still can’t believe I never accidentally lost one of them along the way when they were little or strangled both of them when they were sassy-ass teenagers.  They survived—I survived—and they turned out okay in spite of me.

Mothers Hands Dave Granlund Minnesota

Cartoon used by permission: Dave Granlund, Minnesota

I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood lately.  Wondering what my kids will say about me in their memoirs when I’m doing the “nae-nae” (for the uninitiated, this is a dance of exuberance) in heaven.  I wasn’t always calm. I scolded when I should have consoled, I prodded when I should have nurtured, I lectured when I should have listened, I confined them when I should have let them run free out of fear for their safety, and I thought too much about what others would think of my child-rearing when I should have let my kids just—be.  I did what I thought was right—I did the best I could.

As all these juxtapositions about my motherhood were rummaging through my head the other day, a repairman came to fix our garage door.  He was of the MAGA persuasion and immediately started in on a diatribe about the caravan of “illegal aliens storming our borders with their kids” and how “the gov’ment better do something to keep them out because we just can’t take everybody in who wants to come to our great land.”  Although his logic made sense, his morality did not.  He said this to me knowing that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, our current Attorney General from Hell, had announced morally corrupt plans to immediately separate children from their mothers—placing the mothers in detention centers and the babies/children in foster care when they try to arrive in America. There is a strong case to be made that many of the children will not have proper identification or language skills to be able to be reconnected with their mothers before they are deported back to the countries from which they fled for their lives.  I think I told the idiot repairman that I would be right there in the midst of the caravan if I thought it was the only way to save my children from violence, rape, and starvation because that is what a good mother would do.

Sessions and the Mothers David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star Tucson AZ

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star Tucson, AZ

I was miserable for the rest of the day.   It wasn’t just because I generally get depressed like this when I come in close proximity to a Trump supporter and their lack of humanity.  It was more than that. I was miserable because I could sense the pain of the mothers who were going to have their kids snatched from them in their attempt to flee hostile and violent lands as refugees and would end up losing their kids in the process.

I thought of all the American upper-middle class “Pinterest” moms who make motherhood sound so awesome and Martha Stewart cute—making pancakes in the shape of bunnies, and kids’ beds into rocket ships and princess thrones, when most women of the world are just trying to keep their kids alive.

Suddenly I had a revelation: Motherhood is not the fantasy that some mothers post on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.  For most women, motherhood is not easy.  Anyone who says it is easy and all sunshine and lollipops is lying. In fact, a woman doesn’t always get to define when she’s a good mother in the deepest sense—her responses to her children’s actions do, which is why I compiled a sampling of how one knows when one is a good mother or when one sees a good mother.  It’s called:  You Know You’re a Good Mother When…

Birth Announcement

Meme courtesy of jokedio.com

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A GOOD MOTHER WHEN…

You’ve been awake since the baby’s 2 a.m. feeding and your toddler’s subsequent blood-curdling screaming nightmare at 4 a.m. which caused her to crash into your bedroom, tap dance on your head while your husband never stirred an inch as she cried herself to sleep while clinging to your neck.  You haven’t peed in ten hours. You’re still in your pajamas and you smell like day-old soured milk and urine.  After finally getting your colicky baby down for her 2 p.m. nap at the same time as her three-year-old sister, you think you’ve finally struck gold.  So you drag your weary ass off to the bathroom for a much needed potty-break in the hopes that you’ll be able to take a quick shower, comb your hair, and put on some deodorant before you have to go back on duty, when you look down from the toilet seat and see a toddler’s hand poking underneath the door in search of her mommy.  You get up—mid-pee—and open the door….

Bathroom Break Not Meme

Meme courtesy of wheninmanila.com

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A GOOD MOTHER WHEN…

You’ve heard the ubiquitous word “Mommy” so often by the time your kids are five years old, that when some random kid yells “MOMMY, MOMMMMMY” at the mall, even though you’re a grandmother approaching 70 years old (your kids are in their thirties and live far away), you turn around and answer, “WHAT?!” along with twenty other mothers walking in the mall—none of whom have children in tow….

Mommy Mom Meme wheninmanila dot com

Meme courtesy of quickmeme.com

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A GOOD MOTHER WHEN…

A toddler does a throw-down in the middle of the grocery store—throwing herself into a backward limp noodle, and you rally in defiant solidarity with the mom because you’ve been there—done that.  You dare any of the non-childbearing haters to mess with your sister-mom in her time of need.  You know what the haters are thinking, because you thought the same when you were single and ignorant of how much strength and self-restraint it takes to be a mother.  You know the power of a toddler.  You know what only another mother can know:  Give her 200 toddlers and she could take over the world if she could harness their terrible-two’s ferociousness and willfulness….

SCREAMING TODDLER IN STORE HUNGER GAMES SALUTE

Meme courtesy of imgflip.com

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A GOOD MOTHER WHEN…

You’re watching the looting and riots in Baltimore a few years ago on TV after the killing of a young Black man by police, and as you’re watching, you see a Black mother smack her son upside his head before he does something stupid and life-altering and you’re cheering her on.  He was supposed to come home straight from school, but instead, he went in search of the riot and the looting and had picked up a brick and was attempting to throw it into a store window.  She saw him on TV, rushed to the scene, and caught him before he became another statistic.  The mother of six literally whupped his butt all the way home with the TV cameras following. There were those who objected to her “violence” against her child.  I didn’t.  He was her only son.  I understood as a good mother that when it comes to saving the lives of our children, desperate times call for desperate means.  Last time I checked on this kid, he was still walking the straight and narrow, although he had just accidentally burned down the kitchen when he was frying some chicken fingers and left the skillet unattended to go to the bathroom.  Upon discovering the fire, he poured water on it which made it worse.  He and his family became temporarily homeless in 2015 (no renter’s insurance).  I said his mother’s “rescue” slap upside the head saved his destiny and kept him off the streets—I didn’t say he had common sense….

Baltimore Mom John Darkow Columbia MO

Cartoon used by permission: John Darkow, Columbia, MO

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A GOOD MOTHER WHEN…

Some human that you’ve reared, or are rearing, whom you’ve wanted to throttle at least a dozen times for rolling their eyes at you and pouting when they couldn’t get their way, tells you that they hate you and that you’re the worst mother ever in the history of mothers, one day turns to you in an unscripted moment and gives you the biggest hug and whispers in your ear:  I love you, Mom!  The first time it happened to me, one of my kids was a toddler.  We were in an auditorium when the house lights went dark for the opening of a children’s play.  I picked my daughter up and held her close because she seemed afraid of the sudden darkness, and I heard her say over and over again as she kissed my cheek: “I lub ju…I lub ju…I lub ju.”  Right then and there, if she had asked me for the moon, I think I would have lassoed it down to Earth for her….

Child Hugs vs World Jeff Koterba Omaha World Herald NE

Cartoon used by permission:  Jeff Koterba, Omaha World, Herald, NE

 

ELEANOR’S SELAH (“AHA”) MOMENT ABOUT MOTHERHOOD

I am discovering that there are no perfect mothers. (Fortunately, there are no perfect children either, so the equation balances itself out.)  All I know is that motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I will question my parenting skills until the day I die.  The best I can say is that they are alive and well and they love me as I love them.  I managed to get them to adulthood, and they turned out to be good, kind, and generous human beings.

God knows, I don’t know how I did it because I was less than perfect.

Perfect Mom Dave Granlund Minnesota

Cartoon used by permission: Dave Granlund, Minnesota

 

INSPIRATIONAL MOTHERHOOD QUOTES

“Motherhood is tough. If you just want a wonderful little creature to love, you can get a puppy.” Barbara Walters

“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.” — Nora Ephron

“Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.—Meryl Streep

 “No Matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.” — Florida Scott Maxwell

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WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT MOTHERHOOD? CHECK OUT THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOK: “The Fetus Chronicles” on sale at Amazon!

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com

 WANT TO HEAR THE AUTHOR’S LATEST INTERVIEW?  Check out the podcast interview with Leo Brown: http://breadboxmedia.podbean.com/e/what-if-it-is-true-can-you-find-faith-in-darkness/

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on May 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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MOTHER’S DAY: “OY TO THE VEY!”

(RETOOLED FROM A MOTHER’S DAY POST PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR IN 2013, PREVIOUSLY ENTITLED: “MY CRAZY-ASS MOTHER”)

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   I could really do without Mother’s Day.  In fact, I pretty much hate the celebration.  It is not my fault—it’s God’s.  He could have arranged for me to be born as Michelle Obama and have her delightful mother and her life, or God could have delayed my birth and let me be one of Michelle and Barack’s kids.  I’d be so cute, rich, and smart right now—and man, my upper arms would be on the road to becoming spectacular like Michelle’s instead of flapping in the breeze like the morning wash hung out to dry. But noooooo!  God had to let me be born to a crazy woman who thought if she, ever so sweetly, ignored me (except when she was trying to kill me), that maybe somehow my sister and I would disappear before anybody noticed we belonged to her.

Mothers Day Favorite Peter Broelman Australia

Cartoon used by permission: Peter Broelman, Australia

I suspect my mother was paranoid-schizophrenic long before I was born, but she kept it well hidden until the hormones of menopausal, illegitimate pregnancies produced offspring who demanded to have a mother.  Children are self-centered like that.  They don’t give a shit what is going on in your life.  If you’re their mother, then you better damn well show up and do your job and being crazy is no excuse:

“Feed me, change me, hold me, love me, discipline me—goddamnit—or I’m going down to the nearest ne’er-do-well office and fill out an application to become the local (fill in the blank____________) thief, drug-addict, ‘ho, gangsta, self-centered brat—you name it.  Forewarned is forearmed, Mommie Dearest.”

There is an old adage that women end up emulating their mothers which scared the bejesus out of my sister, Pee-wee, and me.   We were always looking over our shoulders to see if the crazies were going to catch up with us.  We’re both in our sixties now and we’ve managed not to go insane (knock on wood), but we did so by tip-toeing past the graveyard of Mother’s Days lost and putting each other through a sanity check once or twice a year.

Turning into my mother Dan Piraro www bizzaro com

Cartoon used by permission: Dan Piraro, http://www.bizzaro.com

My sister and I would take each other’s mental temperature with questions about scenarios that once plagued our mother’s daily existence:

Are you talking to the wall, yet?”  (No, only to myself, but I try not to answer me or to talk to myself more than once a day!)

“Are you sewing extraneous pockets inside your sweaters and coats and stuffing them with stolen Saltine crackers, sugar packets, salt and pepper shakers, and anything not nailed down at the lunch counter of the Woolworths Five and Dime to prepare for Armageddon?” (No, but I must confess that I take home the little bottles of shampoo and conditioner from fancy hotels.  Does that count?)

“Do you make up conspiracy theories about the Russians trying to take control of your mind through radio waves?”  (No, although I must admit that I am starting to believe a conspiracy theory that since Trump got elected, I’ve been kidnapped by aliens, and I’m living in an alternate universe with alternate truths and an alternate reality.)

“Do you fantasize about killing your children in order to protect them from the “Russians” and white people”?  (No, but I did have copious dreams for years about me killing our mother after that time I invited her to the Girls’ Ensemble concert I was conducting at a church.)

The Girls’ Ensemble concert in 1976 was my last ditch effort to reestablish a relationship with my mother after having cut her out of my life for years.   Mommie Dearest hadn’t been in the concert for more than fifteen minutes before she got “agitated from being surrounded by too many white people” she said, and decided to accompany the Negro spiritual I was conducting [“God’s Gonna Rain Down Fire”] with her personal pyrotechnics.  She couldn’t understand why I didn’t understand that she was aiding God and me with the lighted matches she was throwing with trance-like abandonment into the audience’s hair.  I can still hear the curses of those poor white folks as they scattered like roaches swatting their heads while Security tried to subdue my crazy-ass mother.  I kept conducting the choir as if nothing crazy was happening—as if I didn’t know that woman.  I was too horrified to turn around and face the audience.  All I could do was sob like a hot mess while never missing a beat with my baton, hope the audience thought the crazy woman was related to the only other black person in the choir, and beg God to open up the ground and yank my mother down into the deepest hole in Hell.

 

Crazy Mother FB MEME

Every year, my sister and I have passed our own litmus tests, and we didn’t become paranoid-schizophrenic like our mother—thank God.   But one doesn’t rub elbows with that type of mother and come out unscathed.  Children of alcoholics, drug addicts, and mentally ill people either become like their parents or become the polar opposite. With all due respect, my sister Pee-wee is a control-freak and never had children. I overcompensated for my mother’s mental and physical abandonment by trying to be the perfect mom who was always up in my children’s grill, which almost drove my kids and me insane.  All children make mistakes and have to find their own way in life, no matter how inept or how great the mother.  Every stumble, every rebellion, and every mistake my children made I took as a personal rejection of my “shoddy” parenting, and I would just try harder.   My kids weren’t allowed to fuck up in life and that is a pressure no child can withstand, even if their hearts are in the right place to do the right thing. They love me dearly, and I them, but I’ve always felt that I could have done better by them by providing more clear-thinking advice about the pitfalls of life.  I have nightmares about the things I never had a chance to teach them before they flew the coop.  My secret horror is that they will be confronted with something in life and not have the life skills with which to overcome, and that lack, in turn, will fling them into the insanity of their grandmother.  When asked what keeps me awake at night about motherhood—this is it.

Good Mother FB

ELEANOR’S “SELAH” (“AHA”) MOMENT

I am discovering that I am cautiously falling in love with the memory of my crazy-ass mother and coming to the adult realization that she did the best she could, given her circumstances.   Mama has been dead for thirty-seven years now (died in her sleep on an Easter morning after singing in the church choir), and I’m just beginning to see her through the prism of a life destroyed by intrinsic racism, sexual abuse, and poverty.  As I interview people from my past to chronicle my mother’s all-consuming insanity for my memoirs, I am beginning to see a woman who was not too different from me in her aspirations, dreams, and talents.  The difference in my sanity and my mother’s insanity is that I found the true love of a man (she was summarily abandoned by my father and left to perish in poverty with two babies); the winds of history blew open the doors at just the right time for my intelligent mind to be educated and my talent to be cultivated beyond the aspirations of scrubbing White folks’ toilets (Mama was never allowed to go past high school and spent much of her life as a maid rather than an opera singer which was her dream).   I have traveled the world and lived extremely well (wasting more money on Broadway shows, travel, and gourmet meals than my mother made in her entire life as a servant).

Am I sane today in spite of my mother because I escaped ignorance and want?   Can I “get over” in life because I don’t have to live under an apartheid system as my mother did in the US?  Were my babies safe from my potential descent into madness because I had hope for tomorrow and didn’t have to worry about my children’s next meal?  Only God knows.  But one thing is for sure—I no longer judge my mother for the pain I endured as a child.  Besides, it has made me who I am and given me a riotous sense of humor.  I am truly coming to love and understand the woman who gave me life.   From the conversations I’ve had recently with my grown children, it seems as if they are affording me the same grace.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MAMA!

Mom Dysfunction

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE ABOUT MOTHERHOOD

“Mothers are all slightly insane.”—J. D. Salinger

“Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.”― Marguerite Duras

“When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”― Erma Bombeck

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did—that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that—a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”― Debra Ginsberg

Mothers Day IV Nate Beeler The Columbus Dispatch

Cartoon used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

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BOOKS BY THE AUTHOR ON SALE NOW AT AMAZON!

THE FETUS CHRONICLES: PODCASTS FROM MY MISEDUCATED SELF

“Eleanor Tomczyk’s latest book shares deep insights and absurdly hilarious moments Tomczyk has collected from her life. She presents her unique humor and perspective through a fantastic conceit: podcasts to her unborn self.

“Tomczyk’s voice and cutting commentary travel back through the decades and into the womb. She’s here to tell her baby self all the things she should know about the world and all the lessons she will learn.

“Eleanor L. Tomczyk advises her fetus self on everything from the dangers of douching to the use of words as deadly weapons. Special podcast guest stars range from Tomczyk’s Aunt Lily—“Church Lady Extraordinaire”—to her own eyes and other body parts. When her children follow the “Little Barbarian Manifesto,” and her own organs start reminding her about the passing of time, all the reader can do is laugh out loud.”

MONSTERS’ THROWDOWN

FLEEING OZ

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Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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