Thursday, July 3, 2008


We are all assaulted by images of the "perfect," "June Cleaver" mom-type, which I call "PTA Mom." She keeps the house spotless and has a healthy, hot dinner on the table at 5:00 sharp. She is Volunteer Extraordinaire and has her own seat on the PTA.

Modern culture has added to her profile. She now has the option of working outside the home. But, she is not excused from her other motherly duties simply because she works 40+ hours. No, if anything, now she has to over compensate for damaging her children by having them leave the security of their home for a daycare facility, where complete strangers are now rearing the children. ("Gasp!" says Stay-at-Home Mom)

She must also keep a certain modicum of appearance, which is nothing short of thin, toned, coiffed, stylish, "together," and accessorized. She is "on" all the time, making home made cookies while balancing the checkbook, getting children to soccer practice and saving the household money by shopping the latest sales- with coupons. She recycles, is eco-friendly, walks in the Heart Walk, Breast Cancer Walk, Cancer Walk, March of Dimes Walk, Alzheimer's Walk, and any other group that is in need of her support.

She attends church every Sunday, and takes meals to shut-ins. She sews her own drapery and reads all the best-selling books. She is current on Politics and News. And she can speak intelligently about just about any subject, including Physics, Dead Languages and the social habits of tse tse flies. (And she can spell tse tse flies, too!)

HOWEVER, the VERY MOST IMPORTANT CRITERIA to be "PTA Mom" is that she be the PERFECT disciplinarian/mentor/teacher/mother to her children. She doesn't spank (that's teaching violence). She gives them healthy food (to make them grow big & strong). She doesn't "label" so that the children can be free to express themselves. And she NEVER raises her voice (we talk kindly to each other).

We've all seen some poor mom in the grocery store making vain attempts to assuage a screaming child by using her best "PTA Mom" voice:

"Come on, honey. It's okay. We can have candy later. Right now it would spoil your dinner. And too much candy will hurt your teeth..."
"Now, honey, please quit doing that, okay??? Screaming won't make you get your way. Put it back, please..."
"Honey, I need you to use your words, okay??? I know you know how to use your grown-up words to talk to me. I can see you are angry. And it's okay to be angry. But I need you to put the candy back..."
"Okay, honey, please quit kicking mommy. That's not very nice. Mommy loves you. You are hurting mommy..."

Watching that poor mom try so hard really stresses me out. It's everything I can do not to snatch "honey" up by the short hairs and tell them to "Quit being such a BRAT!" (But then I would be violating the "labeling" thing and the "yelling" thing...)

As our children get older, we learn ways to sound like "PTA Mom" in public, but get the message across loud & clear to the kids. I hiss in my children's ears, "Do we need to go to the bathroom?" That usually nips some of their more offensive behavior in the bud.

Obviously, "PTA Mom" would NEVER say, "Look here, kid! Stop whining or I'll smack you and give you something to whine about!" (That's "White Trash Mom," and another topic for another blog.)

"PTA Mom" makes me tired. She makes me feel inadequate. And, she is too darn perky for her own good. (One of us "normal" moms is going to "off" her one day...)

The thing I have to continue to remind myself is: There is NO SUCH THING as "PTA Mom". She is a fictional character that is the epitome of what we think we would all like to become.

Even June Cleaver is a fictional character. The reason she never yelled is because it was never scripted. All of her problems were wrapped up in 30 minutes or less.

That doesn't mean I advocate being the antithesis of "PTA Mom." It just means I have to reconsider my standards, and let up on myself just a little.

I don't always have time to bake from scratch. That's why God made the Publix bakery. I don't work out and eat like I should. But, I'm trying. I do like to read, but don't always have the time. I do spend a lot of time in the car shuttling kids around. Therefore, the car, the house, and I, are not spotless, coiffed and together. We (all) look more "lived in". I do work outside the home. But I try to keep in perspective that having someone else watch my children for a period of time is NOT the same thing as leaving them at their doorstep to raise. (I am NOT an "egg donor")

I do try to talk nicely to my children, and set the example of how to behave towards one another. But, I will readily admit that sometimes it's hard. Other times it is flat out impossible. And my children have witnessed more than their fair share of their mother absolutely losing her ever-loving mind.

They usually know that "Crazy Mom" is about to take over right about the point that I say, "OK, kids, PTA Mom has left the building!!!"

I hope my kids remember their childhood fondly. I hope that NONE of my "Mom Personalities" rule supreme in their reminiscence of days gone by. And I REALLY hope that the whole world GETS OVER "PTA Mom" and realizes that sometimes it's okay just to be "Mom."

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

Hmmm - I suppose you are talking about me, huh?? ROFL!