My mother was a bit strict. In her defense, I was a surprise addition to the family in my parents later years. I think when you start off as a “interrupter of the norm”, you should at least come to the table with broad shoulders, so that you can assist in the re-straightening of the chinks in the armour that your arrival caused. In many ways, I probably had it much easier that my older sister and brother. My mother had graduated from all the first kids, young family daily drama. Money was not as tight and my parents were completely worn out from the “first family”.
There is definitely something to be said for being the youngest. Parents tend have dropped their guard and even treat you as much older and possibly more as a friend. I was my parents comfort as they sent the oldest kids off to college, war and marriage. I was the one that got to recline in the chaise lounge by the pool with my mother. I was the one that got to go on way better vacations than the “first family” ever dared to dream about. I was the “spoiled” baby, that didn’t have to share my room – which contained a canopy bed…a crime, as far as my older sister was concerned.
There were many conversions and comparisons made over the years about the parents my brother and sister had in the 1950’s and these new, 2nd edition 1960’s parents that, at most times, I had wrapped around my little finger. For every pro there was a con. You can find this in any family. As parents grow older and wiser, they begin to pick their battles at the same time as letting quite a bit slide. I have always remembered one incident in a lifetime of many more memorable moments. It was a Saturday and I was 15. My mother had worked all day preparing for a dinner party with her M&M group. This was the name that my parents and 4 other “couple” friends designated for their monthly, host rotating dinner parties. The Mr. & Mrs. club. They had been meeting for years, ever since the kids (of their friends and my parents “first family”) had grown up. I was packaged as built entertainment for these people who undoubtedly got in their cars at the end of the evening, giggling that they were glad it was Eddie and Audrey that had taken this late in life parenting on. So, back to this fateful Saturday. Texaco- Metropolitan Opera radio had been playing all day. This was where she felt strongest – preparing for events in a way that Martha Stewart would have admired. Molded butter patties created. Place cards positioned to encourage the best table conversions. Individual, polished ashtrays at every place setting. It was the early 70’s, so you just have to get over it. Come to think of it, my mother is the only person I have ever known that smoked while she ate. I am sure it was some ploy to keep her from gaining weight. Minutes before guest arrival, I dropped her makeup compact on the Penney tiled bathroom floor. The same bathroom that she had earlier warned me to dry the sink of if I HAD to use it. This is the only time I remember my mother hitting me, cupped hand, over my left ear. This many years later, I can still see the expression on her face.
Happily, I was reminded that these breaking point parenting moments have been shared by all. This weekend my oldest daughter Aubrae threw a bachelorette party for my youngest daughter. I sat their listening to all the stories that the married girls shared with Schuyler to help her prepare for married life. Epic parenting moments were remembered. I admitted that over the years the thing I lost it over most were the white, bleached out spots on every towel I have ever purchased in my adult life. Clearasil and Pro-Active must have stock invested in the terry cloth industry! With a knowing smile directed my way, Aubrae shared that at least I didn’t make them dry out the sink after use – the stains would have been much worse.