Monday, September 20, 2010
I was trying to be a champion grocery shopper today, having scoured the ads and money-saving websites and organized my list and coupons accordingly. I found my way to the brand spankin' new grocery store nirvana in a neighboring town.
While I was getting out of the car, using my leg as an awkward buffer between my door and the car next to me, I gave myself a nasty paper cut across the nose with the damn grocery list! By the time I made it inside, my face was bloody. Apparently, saving money can be dangerous.
I managed to have a productive trip, and I'm proud of myself for being so organized, but there's no telling if I'll be up for it all again next week. And if not, I won't beat myself up over it.
My coupon clipping made me think about my mom, because, much to my annoyance, she flatly refused to "deal with coupons."
You have read about my mother on this blog before, so you know she was pretty special. She had a magnetism and good humor that people still talk about even though she's been gone more than 20 years.
She was an entertainer who used silver and fine crystal, but who also parked herself cross-legged on the kitchen counter to chat. She was a church-going charmer who threw around the S-word.
She was a fashion plate and decorating guru, whose kitchen counters were piled high with papers and assorted "crap." She saved her kids' artwork for posterity, but then found herself writing lists and doodles and phone numbers on it.
A nice thing about my mother was that she did not try to be perfect. In fact, in many ways she was, well, "good enough."
She could eat an entire bag of gumdrops for lunch and not beat herself up about it.
She could take us out to dinner 3 nights in a row because she couldn't bear the thought of how this dinner thing kept coming up...every day.
She was not the most consistent gift giver, with gifts ranging from Neiman Marcus goodies in pretty little boxes, to the pineapple she made me give my 4th grade teacher for Christmas.
I despaired of ever having a satisfactory birthday or Christmas, as she never seemed to get me what was on my list (no Snoopy Snow Cone machine?) Instead of giving in to my histrionics about the injustice of it all, she would shrug. "Well, I'm the only mother you've got."
In my childhood and adolescent wisdom, I would try to change my mother: her clothes (pj's and clogs in the carpool line?), her spending habits (why wouldn't she go to yard sales with me?), and how she kept house. Always a reader, I had articles to share. I had statistics. I was an expert on all things current and new. She would listen, give me a "hmmmmmm," and not change a thing.
Now, I use her as a model in my own varied attempts to throw away the damaging idea of perfection.
I do not sort laundry. Ever. Or hand wash. Or lay flat to dry. Apparently, I like an element of adventure at laundry time.
I do not iron anything, and am not above/below stapling or gluing on scouting patches. Another strategy I've used is to leave the patches in a baggie to see if the child will move on to the next level of scouting before I do anything with them.
I do not make homemade Halloween costumes, and when I do make costumes for school projects, my son tells me mine are the "cheap-iest looking."
I rarely offer side dishes. Taco Night means tacos, Chili Night, chili. You get the picture.
I go places, like church and work, with soaking wet hair. If people are inclined to think I'm a serious swimmer, rather than someone who is too lazy to dry her hair, so be it.
I choose (or steer) my children's activities based on my personal convenience and preferences.
I decorate with quick fixes rather than high quality, knowing that I'll tire of a trend before too long.
The list goes on and on.
So even though I only had my mom for 18 years, I feel her influence still. The short-cuts, attitudes and actions I pooh-poohed about her are the very things that help me get by without getting myself in a dither. The fact that she was so comfortable with herself helps me to accept myself the way I am.
Growing up, I never once thought a clean house or good grades or a fancy car or thin thighs were the most important things in life, and I know that was because of my mother. What a gift.
And if that's not perfection, I don't know what is.
"There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one." Jill Churchill