In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would dust off a column I wrote when my children were young and I was writing for a Dallas publication. This column, among others, is part of a book I’ve worked on off and on for a number of years – I hate to say how many – called A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. The columns I wrote were mainly humorous, with an occasional thoughtful piece thrown into the mix, and I had great fun living the experiences and writing about them.
Reading on, you will see where the title came from, and the sentiments are just as true today as they were those many years ago….
“Sunday is Mother’s Day and in this time of feminism and ERA it’s hard to decide what to write about. Do I mention all those hart-tugging gifts I’ve received over the years, like the dead tomato plant in a tin can and the wilted dandelions clutched tightly in a grubby little hand?
On the other hand, maybe it’s unfair to offer only one side of motherhood. Maybe I should say a word of two about all the daily frustrations that threaten to make me seek cover in the nearest rest home. The cleaning; the car pools; the laundry; the endless sibling infighting; more cleaning; and cooking and….
Who’s the joker who started the myth that housewives spend endless hours in front of the television eating chocolates? Not that it’s a bad idea. But let’s get real. The last time I watched daytime television I was sick with the flu and couldn’t have eaten a chocolate if Godiva herself brought me one.
While I’ve been trying to sort out all these things associated with motherhood, I keep wondering why there is so much unrest among women today, even those who have had a satisfying career outside the home before deciding to become full-time homemakers. Then I realized the unrest comes out of a loss of pride. Modern thinking has managed to strip us of any glimmer of the kind of pride our mothers could feel for their role.
It’s true that modern ideology still advocates free choice, but somehow the choice of full-time homemaker doesn’t garner the same respect and interest as choosing to be an astronaut. When was the last time an anecdote about your five-year-old drew a crowd at a cocktail party?
Under the circumstances, it’s no wonder women are in such turmoil. Society has force-fed us its version of the “modern woman” — exciting, sophisticated, fulfilled, and working outside the home. So when a woman finds her fulfillment at home, she automatically starts questioning and comparing. That is especially true of the women who had a different career first.
As someone who has managed to straddle the fence for a number of years, I don’t feel qualified to advocate one over the other. I’ve managed to have the best of both worlds, and I must admit that my early success with writing came as a balm at a time when I felt like I was drowning in custodial duties for the family. But a painting class the year before had been just as therapeutic.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m a mother and homemaker first. And somewhere down the line when I may be sitting in a rocking chair looking back over my life, I think the dead tomato plant will mean more to me than my first paycheck as a writer.”
I’m not dottering yet, but I do have a rocking chair, and the dead tomato plant does mean more to me than the first paycheck I received as a writer.
Wishing all the other mothers out there a day destined to be remembered with such fondness. Celebrate well.