Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Call Your Mother

I pretty much never call home. I am, in short, the traditional kid who left home and is too busy to pick up the phone once in a while. I'm not averse to talking with my family, though, I just don't think about it much. Whenever someone calls me, I'm almost always more than happy to drop what I'm doing and get updates on what's been going on back home.

Today, my mom gave me a call. It's strange, but although I spent way more time with my mom than with my dad while I lived in Louisiana, now that I'm gone I find I talk to my dad far more than I talk to my mom. So, since I wrote a blog post about my dad a few months ago, I think it's worth talking about my mom for a bit.

My mom and my dad are very different people. To hear the story, it seemed like my dad was looking for a nice-looking lady to take care of the house while he was out of the house offshore for weeks at a time, and my mom really aspired to be a housewife. In that sense, it was a perfect match.

While this may seem like a counter-feminist move, it's worth pointing out that her family, the Mathernes, really tried to get her to become something else. They were dismayed that my mom didn't go to college, and were skeptical about her decision to marry so young. All that to say that it's clear to me that my mom knew what was available to her, yet chose to become a stay-at-home wife and mother anyway. There's nothing more feminist than allowing a woman to chose her fate.

In fact, I credit my mom with priming me in favor of feminism from an early age. She is a strong, willful woman who will fight for what's her's and will never be cowed by a man. Because of her, it never occurred to me that a woman was supposed to be demure and pampered. My mom is loud, opinionated, and one of the only women I know who's proud of her own farts.

I can't overstate my appreciation for my mom's work in raising me and my siblings. She kept our house clean, cooked food for us almost every night despite my incredible pickiness, and well into adulthood she kept on providing in ways that could have very well left me spoiled. My childhood was awesome, and I owe a lot of that to my mother.

That said, I would be remiss if I didn't point out her flaws.

Unlike myself and my dad, Mom wore her emotions on her sleeve. I remember her anger most of all: my mom was a screamer, so when she was mad you knew about it. She calmed a bit as she got older, but even my little brother, 7 years younger than me, is familiar with my mom's volume. It didn't always take much to anger her, either. I sometimes suspected that my mom sometimes just wanted to be angry, so she'd go searching for a reason to do so.

She's also quite a gossip, and certainly has some entitlement issues. She can be petty and judgmental sometimes, which certainly caused me to get frustrated with her on multiple occasions.

I don't want to knock my mom too much, though, and her qualities far outweigh her flaws as far as I'm concerned.

For instance, although I don't think she truly understand my interests of what I do for a living, she tries. When I go home for the holidays I can always count on her having saved a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory that she wants to watch with me. I don't have the heart to explain to her how the show is kind of offensive and not very funny, so instead I just watch it with her and enjoy my time bonding with my mom, if not the show itself.

At first glance, we don't seem very similar. It seems like I took all of my physical and personality features from my dad except for my height, which is definitely more Matherne than Verdin. However, although I'm pretty similar to my dad in many ways, I'm less similar with the rest of that side of the family. The rest of the Verdin clan is loud, raucous, and far more conservative politically than I am. In other words, other than my dad's political views (of which I'm not sure, since we never talk about politics), my dad's family is quite different than my dad.

The Mathernes, on the other hand, are more generally liberal and educated. Although my Pa 'Turn has been an operator of heavy machinery for the past couple of decades, he was educated as a doctor and later spent time as a chemist before, by virtue of an inherited bit of machinery, he found his services as a machine operator to be more in-demand and fulfilling than working in science. That side of the family, though not shy, are definitely quieter and more bookish. In other words, a bit different than my mom. I always felt closer to the Matherne side of the family than the Verdin side, especially since my Ma and Pa 'Turn took me and my sister on several long road trips to visit exotic far away places like Texas, Arkansas, and Alabama.

And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my Aunt Darkus, my mom's intelligent and ambitious younger sister whose kindness and generosity helped me through my transition to adulthood. In many ways she's the opposite of my mom: she focused on education out of high school, eventually becoming the breadwinner of her household while my manly, rugged Uncle Chad became a stay-at-home dad.

Both my mom and my aunt are women I grew up respecting, though, as with all of the women I met in my formative years. I was pretty lucky in that regard.

In closing, I love my mom, and I should call her more often. Maybe you should call yours as well? I don't know what sort of a relationship you have with your mom, so I'm not going to issue a blanket command in that regard.

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