8.25.2011

{If you do that with your pants, they'll stick that way}

There are certain words/phrases that make me wish I did not speak English.  Among them (and the list is long) are the words Hubby, Wifey and Kiddos.  Hate them.  Not the husband and the children (most days) just the obnoxiously altered catch-phrases that are intended to make the speaker appear to possess some kind of above average, sugary attachment to their family.  After reading an article on "Mormon Mommy Bloggers" this week, I have decided that I am sick to my freshly dyed roots of being called a "Mommy" by people who I'm pretty sure did not emerge from my ... womb.  (Attaching the word "Mormon" is a subject for a different rant on a different day... but I'm sure it'll be a good one.)

My problem with the word "Mommy" is that it is only applied by social commentators to women like me. Women who have chosen the glamorous world of caring for our own children, without pay or sick days, one peanut butter sandwich at a time.  Can you imagine Michelle Obama or Sandra Day O'Connor or Gloria Steinem (had she chosen to have children) being called "Mommy" in an op.ed?  It may be subtle, but this is a word whose intent, I believe, is to be cutely condescending so as to cloak the speaker's true feelings in folksy friendliness... like when an older man I don't know calls me "sweetie".  It's basically a verbal pat on the head.  It's a verbal dismissal... which we do to women who have chosen traditional roles all the time to women.  Old Wive's Tale anyone?

And speaking of another term I dislike ... I am not sure when exactly a woman becomes an Old Wife; when what she has to say is no longer considered witty, well informed, well reasoned and practical, but rather the hysterical rantings of a girl who is too bossy for her own good.  I am not sure who decided that the tales she tells are any less reliable than all those scientific certainties that never end up being that certain in the end. (Speaking of "hysteria"...)

I've found that the wisdom of women is treated in one of three ways.  1. We fold it nicely, wrap it up in acid free tissue paper, tuck it away in a cedar lined box toward the back of our closets and hope that another generation will one day find it and be glad that it has been preserved in such unused, vintage condition.  2. We put it on and grudgingly wear it only when we must be seen using it, like the horrible clothes that new moms get at baby showers and only put on their children when taking a snap shot to email to the giver.  3. We laugh and agree with others around us of a similar age that it is an unfortunate fad owned by a generation to whom we are glad we don't belong.  (Much like the white tuxedo with huge lapel, pink ruffled shirt and velvet, navy blue bow tie which my father wore to his wedding),

I am beginning to understand that there is an unspoken truth that lives behind the words and through the words and around the words of women who have sacrificed to care for someone else.  I am beginning to see the pain and happiness of life in the advice that Mommies and Old Wives pass along.  When an Old Wife says "Don't let the cat go where the baby is sleeping, it will suck out his breath", maybe she is hoping that if she can convince the rest of the family that their pet is a baby-breath-sucking-predator, they will agree to get rid of the thing already.  Perhaps she's trying to spare future generations of Mommies the extra chore of vacuuming cat hair on top of everything else they have to do.

When an Old Wife says "It's all fun and games until somebody gets their eye put out", maybe she's trying to spare you the pain associated with those things that look fun at first glance, but inevitably end with you missing parts of yourself that you'd wished you'd held onto.

When an Old Wife says "Don't do that with your face, or it will stick that way", maybe she wants to guard you from becoming like the grouchy auntie from her childhood who smiled at life so rarely and frowned at it so much that the lines and the wrinkles and the skin adopted a permanently gloomy look.  Maybe she knows that the outside will eventually reflect the inside.  Maybe she know that if there's a canker in the soul it will eventually show on the face in a way that no amount of lip stick and eye cream will fix.

Here is my decision- some will always be shocked at the competence of women.  They are surprised at the force that we bring to life and at the things that we know.  But not me.  I believe in the words of the Mommies and of the Old Wives.  Tell me all your tales and I will believe them.  I will wrap myself up in them and I will wrap my children up in them, and when the time comes I will wrap my children's children up in them too... and  eventually they will be glad I did.

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4 comments:

The Laundry Queen said...

I *hate* verbal pats on the head. Patronizing me is one of the quickest ways to make me mad. Great post, e.

carmar76 said...

Thumbs up!

Alymcb said...

I have a friend who actually did have the breath sucked out of him by a cat. He was a baby, sleeping horizontally in the back seat sleeper that was allowed, and his mom got the inspiration to go check on him. Their cat was sleeping curled up on his face, and he was blue.
I love the photo!
Alyson

Alymcb said...

I have a friend who actually did have the breath sucked out of him by a cat. He was a baby, sleeping horizontally in the back seat sleeper that was allowed, and his mom got the inspiration to go check on him. Their cat was sleeping curled up on his face, and he was blue.
I love the photo!
Alyson