MacGyver Mom

There are times in the parenting journey when you feel like you have taken up  a permanent residence in the innards of your child’s disesteem. Lucky for me, in regards to my daughter, I didn’t care – that much. Being a mature woman my teenager’s lack of shock and awe about the greatest that is me was quite frankly her loss. But, a part of me still craved her acknowledging, just the tiniest bit, that I was a-okay in the mom category.

I know I’m not the cool mom or the hot mom or my kid’s very best bestie because none of those roles interest me. I’m just a solid mom with no gushing adjective attached. But then something happened last week to change all that. My daughter had a life crisis and I swooped in and saved the day. I rescued her Apple AirPods.

For the technology, unaware Apple Airpods aren’t the name of a family pet or anything remotely human. The Airpods are miniscule little wireless headphones and if you’re a teenager they come in at number two, right behind the iPhone, as the most cherished thing in their world.

We were out-of-town when the tragedy happened. Like most cataclysmic events this one came out of nowhere. One second we were both exiting the car to go inside our hotel and then before I could say “make sure you throw away that Chipotle bag” an Airpod had vanished. One of the little buds had been swallowed whole by the interior of my car.

Well, to be more exact, as my daughter was disengaging one of the pods from her ear it fell out and got lodged in the no man’s land that is the seat belt thingamabob. In the part where you click in the seatbelt there’s a space that was just the right size to eat the Airpod. It was trapped, ensnared by plastic. We pounded, we went under the seat, over the seat, prodded and plied and yet the headphone remained imprisoned.

My daughter’s despair was at Defcon 1. She pleaded that we take the car to a mechanic and have the seat taken apart to free the headphone. I tried to explain that the labor expense of making that happen would equal the cost of about 10 Airpods. She then latched on to the idea of maybe, must maybe, going to buy new Airpods. This earned her a look that said – never going to happen.

Due to her distraught nature, I suggested she go up to the hotel room and mourn her Airpod in private, maybe start planning its memorial service, while I parked. What she didn’t know was that I was about to go full MacGyver on that car seat. I was getting that headphone out.

The big problem was I didn’t have any tools. So, I took a headband that was a piece of flexible metal covered in fabric and straightened it out. Then I got out a bra that fell out of a bag I had taken to Goodwill a couple of days earlier and using nail clippers cut out the underwire. Next, I attached the underwire to the metal of the headband and started the precision maneuvering needed to snake the wire into the crevice and release the headphone from its plastic grave. I felt like I was doing endoscopic surgey. It took about five minutes and required me hanging out of the backseat in a very unlady like fashion (ass in the air) but finally I freed that headphone!

When I delivered the amazing news of the successful rescue of the Airpod (via Snapchat, of course) there were literal tears of joy.

I, for one brief, shining moment was my teenager’s hero.

Do I Suck At Being A Mother? ( Deep Thoughts At the Grocery Store)

I think I may be a bad mother. No, correction I think I may be considered a bad mother if you apply 21st century suburban perimeters to my parenting skills. Okay, I’m going to change that again because this admitting you’re a bad mother thing is hard. I’m a bad mother, but only in regards to the teenage years.

I’m sure you’re wondering how I came to this watershed event of questioning my parenting greatness. It happened at the grocery store. Yeah, the flipping grocery store. There I was trying to decide if I wanted to buy the classic Cheez It or the new Cheez It Bacon and Cheese duo, which is quite the taste sensation, but you feel a tad greasy and a smidge shameful after eating them. So, as I was reaching for the Bacon and Cheese Cheez It (Of course, I decided the greasy shame would be worth it.) two mothers that I know strolled into the same aisle. As moms do we started talking about our kids and that’s when it hit me.

I stink at motherhood.

These moms, who both did not have carts with any processed snack foods, began rhapsodizing about all the things they were planning on doing to ensure their teens last summer before they graduate high school would be “magical.” Instead of nodding my head and just rolling with the conversation I had to open my mouth and blurt out, “My definition of a magical teen summer is making sure my kids get  jobs that run June through August.”

This was not the right thing to say. I got “THE LOOK” x 2. Any mom knows what the look is. It’s a judgmental side eye delivered by another mother that’s accompanied with the slow burn of sanctimony.

At first I was confused. What did I say that was wrong? Summer jobs and teenagers go together like bacon and cheese infused into a cracker. It’s a good thing – right? Well apparently not because according to these moms by making my children work I was “robbing them of memories.”

Oh how I wished they hadn’t gone there. I’m not a memory mom. A long time ago I took a pledge to not base my parenting and every moment of my life ensuring my kids would be living in their own personal fairy tale thus ensuing a childhood resplendent with momentous memories. Sorry, but I have/had no interest in raising a prince or princess. Primarily because for that happen you have to be their servant. I took a firm pass on that job.

For a brief moment I thought about defending myself and then just accepted that in these moms eyes I was a bad parent. It hurt a little. No mother wants anyone to think she’s failing at raising her children. I, adroitly as I could, made an excuse to leave that conversation and hauled over to the frozen food section.

As I stared at the Eggo chocolate chip waffles I had a moment of deep reflection. Had I made a mistake by years ago not embracing the “memory mom” movement? Would my kids look back on their childhood and shudder because I never packed their lunch boxes with food origamied and styled to look like Cinderella’s castle? Seriously, I was Smuckers Uncrustable mom. Good Lord, the horrors of eating a sandwich that wasn’t sculpted into Thomas the Tank Engine.

I got so upset I had to lean my head against the cold glass doors of the freezer section for relief. Then one of the memory moms walked by and she was on her phone. It sounded like she was having a fight with one of her kids. I stood up, held my head high, and thought that’s the problem with parenting in Fantasy Land, no matter what, reality always finds a way to creep in.

Dear Snarky – Pokemon Go Away

Pokemon-Go-Full-Google-Access.pngDear Snarky,

I have a friend who is now calling me a stalker. We both have boys who are 9  and do a lot together. A couple of days ago I texted her about taking our boys out and doing Pokemon Go. She told me that she was already doing Pokemon as a family “team building” activity which I thought sounded weird, but whatever. THEN when I’m out with my son I see her with some other moms from school and their boys playing Pokemon. I parked my car to join them and I heard the mom, that I thought was my friend, whisper stalker.

I’m hurt and angry for my son that he was left out of Pokemon Go and furious that I was called a stalker. Should I confront my friend about it?

Signed, Pokemom

Dear Pokemom,

First, I’m going to tell you what you want to hear. The mom who called you a stalker is a jerk. Now get ready for some hard truths. I’m afraid the problem might not be all  the other mom’s fault. I could be wrong here, but you seem awfully needy and I’m going to guess that possibly you’re more upset that you weren’t included than the fact that your son was left out. So ask yourself why did you feel the need to join up with a group when your friend had fibbed to keep you away? Why didn’t you just keep on driving and have a blast playing Pokemon Go with your son and be done with it?

Attention mothers everywhere you don’t have to do everything in groups. It’s okay and a lot of times preferable to enjoy your child’s company without a gaggle of other moms around. Think back to your childhood did your mom coordinate everything you did to such an extent that each outing was a like a mother/child mixer?

My advice is to get over being called a stalker. Yes it was mean, but who cares. This woman doesn’t sound worth you expending anymore energy on. The fact that you now know this is a blessing. You need to focus on appreciating the things you can control like spending one-on-one time with your kids and not worrying about what everyone else is doing.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky 21st Century Advice With an Attitude email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or leave me a private message on my Snarky Facebook page.

Excuse Me But I Can’t See Through Your Kid

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.39.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 10.19.28 AMMost parents think their kids have super powers as in super smart, super athletic and well just to save time on this list take pretty much any adjective that would look good on a college application and put super in front of it. Bam, list done. The one super power I’m not buying is the whole invisible thing. No one’s child was born with a cloak of invisibility and yet many parents act like their kids are see through at events like theatre and musical performances.

I understand that parents want their children to experience something like the symphony, but there are common courtesies that still are in place no matter what the age. For example, no child should be allowed to stand up the whole time or do what I call the wander hike.

This is when a kid uses a venue for exploration purposes. It begins with what might, at first, glance seem like an innocent aisle saunter and then grows to include roaming the stairs next to the row of seats their parents are inhabiting. Once that trail is well-worn the intrepid adventurer starts a parade of bathroom visits so robust you begin to question the integrity of the child’s bladder.

Now while all this is happening the kid’s parents seem oblivious to the disruption of their fellow audience members’ enjoyment of the event. They act as if their progeny shares the same transparency as say Casper the Ghost. The very best you can hope for is for the child to get bored and proceed to play games on an iPhone with a screen bright enough to make the sun feel impotent.

When this happens I always feel I have only three choices: One is tamping down my irritation and pretending that it’s no big deal. Two, attempting to ever so discreetly get the parents attention with perhaps just the tiniest of hand waves (and I’m talking the complete hand no single fingers) and gesture that their kid needs to be corralled or three actually saying something. And by this I mean using your words via your vocal cords not coming home and going all cray on social media. Yes, Facebook is an all you can eat buffet for complainers, but more often than not moaning and groaning as a status update is not really accomplishing much.

Last week, I was attending an indoor musical and the aforementioned three choices were all swirling in the head as I was feeling crabby towards a family sitting in front of me. Two parents with a preschooler were allowing their child to not only do the wander hike, but also stand up in his chair and stare at me.

I gave it ten minutes to see if the parents would harness their collective brainpower and have an “ah ha” moment that their child was not made of glass.  After that I felt, based on my rising blood pressure, that my health mandated I do a little hand wave thingy indicating their precious gumdrop needed to attach his fanny to the seat.

Well, if that had worked I wouldn’t now be writing this so we all know the hand wave was a fail. This lead to me ever so gently leaning forward and sweetly whispering, “Pardon me, but I can’t see through your son.”  That earned me a searing look and then the mother told her son, “Honey you need to sit down because there’s a mean lady behind you.”

Whatever. All I cared about is that I could now see the stage. It was all-good until intermission when the dad saw me and began a beration oration for “interrupting them during the show.”  This stumped me to such a degree I was rendered mute until the mom piped up with, “We also didn’t appreciate you making our son feel bad.”

Okay, by now I was experiencing two emotions. The most important one was relief. Finally, I had something to write about for my column. Yeah, go ahead and roll your eyes at that, but hey it’s not easy finding something to blab about every week.

I was also feeling generous. I was going to use this as a teachable moment and reach out to these young parents. So, I replied, “I am so sorry I wasn’t trying to make your son feel bad. I was only attempting to awaken what must be very dormant parenting instincts.”

The dad looked at me like he wasn’t quite sure if I was insulting them. I took that as my cue to exit their range of vision. When the musical started up again the family was no longer inhabiting their seats. I guess they had figured out what I was talking about after all.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

 

Dear Snarky – Help, I Threw My Husband’s Family Overboard

Dear Sndear_snarky_logo-1arky,

 I’m about to be disowned by my extended family. Yesterday, I anonymously called the cops on my husband’s relatives. They go out in their ski boats and NEVER have any of the kids in life jackets. It’s so dangerous I won’t let my two children ride in the boats with them.

 We were all at the lake for a Memorial Day family thing and I just got sick of seeing my in-laws – mother, father, brothers, sisters just let all the kids ride in very fast boats that don’t even have one F’ing life jacket. So, I called 911 and reported them. Fast forward 2 hours later and they come back to the dock after being given multiple tickets by the boat cops and they’re facing a fine.

 My brother-in-law might even have to do jail time because the police, when they got on the boat, found an unregistered gun “hidden” under some ski tow lines.

 I said nothing about my part in this until my sister-in-law got a hold of my cell phone (without me knowing BTW) and went through my call history for the day which was only one number – 911 and figured out that I had called the cops on them.

 Now no one is speaking to me (after cussing me out) AND they think I should pay the fine since I’m the one who “narced on the them.”

 Do I pay the money to keep peace in the family or do I stand up to them and not care if they’re super pissed?

 Signed, Life jacket Mom

 Dear Life jacket, 

 There’s a lot going on here so let’s break this down:

 1)You are right kids should wear life jackets. It’s the law. In fact, as a former lifeguard, I think everyone should wear a life jacket on a boat

2)You’re relatives are idiots/lazy/cheap for not having any life jackets on their ski boats.

3)I love that you called the police!

 Yep, family harmony be damned if you repeatedly told this collection of nitwits to get some flipping life jackets on their boats and if they just kept on blowing you off then I see what you did as an act of love. You just wanted to keep them safe. It was a hug disguised as a phone call to the cops.

 So, that’s a great big no on paying any fine and as for your BIL with the unregistered gun, well there’s a juicy Facebook status update. Maybe he’s a hit man who shoots people on his boat and them dumps their bodies in the lake. (Where’s a CSI team when you need them?) Seriously, keep me posted on how this plays out. 

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice with an Attitude – please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or send me a private message on my Snarky FB page.

 

I Got An F In Homeschooling

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.30.18 AMSomeone please explain to me how several weeks ago it was “breaking news” that a 22-year-old woman is pregnant, especially a young woman with no job, no formal education, who lives in the Ozarks and is married to a teenage boy. Wouldn’t it be breaking news if she weren’t pregnant?

Okay, I’ll admit that Jessa Dugger (the expectant mother), whose sole claim to fame is that her mom, Michelle, has a very sturdy uterus and has birthed more than a dozen and half children, is a little bit of reality “star” from the TLC network show “19 Kids and Counting”. But come on, “breaking news” that she’s expecting a baby?

I get why people watch the Duggar’s TV show. I gave it a lookie loo primarily to witness a mother who has that many kids and chooses to homeschool them. I can’t imagine not wanting the euphoric relief of putting at least half of them on the school bus five days a week. If I were that mom the sweetest sound in the world would be the squeal of the school bus brakes as it stopped in front of my house.

Not that homeschooling doesn’t have its appeal. In the TV world homeschooling mamas attract viewers. You’ve got the Duggar Mom on TLC and that Pioneer lady on the Food Network.

In fact, it was fellow homeschooling mothers that helped propel the Pioneer Woman onto the radar of the Food Network. When I discovered that maybe one of the reasons she got a cooking show I felt better about the tastebuds of the world-at-large.

I have nothing against the Pioneer Woman. She seems delightful, but when your cooking show is so void of actual cooking (my theory is because everything she make seems to be based on an eight ounce jar of Ragu or a sleeve of Oreos) that the most consistent and oft-repeated camera shot is a close up of you washing your hands, well, you know you’re not really killing it in the kitchen.

I even feel a little bit guilty right now not having these two legendary homeschooling mothers’ backs. For you see, I was a homeschool mom. I’ll wait a second for you to stop laughing.

Here’s the quick back-story. My husband and I knew, sort of, that we would be moving soon and decided to not subject our then 12-year-old son to a junior high that had more lock downs than school assemblies. I was fully ready to assume the mantel of educator until my son empathetically told me, “I don’t want to get dumb so you better let me handle this.”

Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. Forget about the pressure of making sure your kid isn’t an idiot the real drama is some of those homeschool moms. Talk about cliquey – yikes!

There’s the super holy “Jesus is the reason” group, and then there’s the “toxins in the classroom are killing our kids” group which overlaps the anti-vaxxers which has nothing on the “my kids are too smart to go to school because they were reading chapter books and I mean real ones not that Magic Tree House claptrap 11 weeks post womb.”

Once moms found out I was homeschooling it was like I was being rushed for a sorority. You know, until they found out I was the “our local junior high kind of stinks so we’re giving this a try until we move in a couple of months” mother.

The one thing all the moms did share were very intense emotions regarding homeschooling. A lot of them felt like it was their calling (and I love this and it means these women are far superior to me) which explains why they’ve rallied around and I’m guessing had a hand, due to sheer numbers, of propelling the “19 Kids and Counting” Mom and the “Pioneer Woman” to fame. This all leaves me a little disappointed in myself.

What if I had embraced homeschooling and instead of Snarky in the Suburbs was Harried & Homeschooling. Maybe I would have legions of followers or dare I dream my own cooking show. (I can see the camera close-ups of my hands already)

Maybe it’s not too late for me. I still have one kid in school, my 14-year-old daughter. What if I yanked her out of 9th grade and began a most wondrous mother and child journey of educational awakening and enrichment? I’m getting serious butterflies of excitement just thinking about it.

Wait, no scratch that, butterflies are gone, way gone.

Trapped 24/7 with a hormonal teenager whose mood swings are so turbulent some days I feel like I’m on riding shotgun on a tsunami. Yeah, that’s a great big no can do.

Not any amount of fame would be worth it for either of us. The only reality show that would come out of that would be When Mothers Go Cray – The True Life Tale of a “Yeah, I Thought Homeschooling Would Be Parenting Bliss” Mom.

Not that it wouldn’t be ratings gold.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

Dear Snarky – Help, I’ve Lied To My Mom Friends!

609d7b389ff7a7660fe3e11a39842d59Dear Snarky,

I’m the mother of a soon to be kindergartener. All my pre-school mom friends are going to be sending their kids off to a private kindergarten in the fall. I kind of, because I didn’t want to be the odd man out, lied that my son would also being going to this private kindergarten. The truth is we can’t afford it and our public schools are great.

Well, now all the moms are talking about the Spring Welcome to Kindergarten meeting and I have to fess up that my child will never be going to that school.

What’s the best way to do this and not look like a big liar?

Signed,

Worried Mom

dear_snarky_logo-1 Dear Worried,

 I could tell you to cleanse your conscience and be 100% truthful yet I’m sure that’s not the kind of advice you’re seeking. I’m guessing you want me to give you a way to save face. So, because this is Dear Snarky not Dear Abby here’s what I recommend.

 Share with your posse of pre school moms that after much soul-searching and thoughtful deliberation you and your husband have decided to support your local public schools. You feel as a family that by investing in public education you are doing your part to build a better community for everyone.

 I call this a two-fer. It gets you out of a sticky spot and you’re making yourself sound like a burgeoning community activist.

 Now for some advice you didn’t ask for. In the future stop trying so hard to fit in with the herd and quit fibbing. There are only so many times I’m going to be able to come to your rescue. 

If you have a question for Dear Snarky, “21st Century advice with an attitude” please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

 

Free Ranging – For Parents Who Want to Be Left Alone

There are a la46e34602bffb6354d7217da6ff675c2ot of parenting styles. Some have catchy names like attachment, mindful or slow parenting (which to me conjures up images of children being put in a crock pot. It’s a very unsettling visual). My favorite is the free-range parent. This type of child rearing has been in the news a lot recently when a Maryland couple was cited by Child Protective Services for letting their 10 and 6-year-old walk to and from a park that was a mile away from their home.

The parents reasoning for their free-range approach was that it was how they were brought up and they want to raise independent children.

Really?

Here’s my take on free ranging. It’s lame. In fact, I’ll go so far to say that I think free-ranging is just a cutesy name for lazy except who wants to admit that they’re a lazy parent? Pretty much no one and free range sounds so, I don’t know, Whole Food-sy like it’s all organic and good for you. Plus, it gives you a nifty soapbox to stand on as you puff out your chest and declare that independent child nonsense.

What these moms and dads really should be confessing is that they want to read a book, binge on a Netflix series or get some work done. No scratch that. They could do all that on their iPhone 6 while at the park with their kids.

So, I’ll share my opinion that this kind of parent wants their children to leave them the hell alone thus they call their non parenting free-ranging so they can feel good about foisting their kids off on other parents.

Yeah, that’s right foisting because most free-range kids, not too happy with being left alone, seek out the companionship and security of other families. Any mother who has been with her kids at a park, swimming pool, or even her own neighborhood is acquainted with the free-range kid.

This is the lonely child or children that see a family and come over and ask to play or partake of the snack being handed out. They glue themselves to you until you have to leave and yet you stay as long as possible because you are alarmed these children are by themselves.

At the pool it’s even worse because you fear for their safety without a parent keeping an eye on them while they’re in the water. (Quick note to all parents a lifeguard is not a babysitter.) You even start packing extra snacks for the kids because you know they are being left unattended for hours at a time.

Free-range kids in your neighborhood are a little different story. You know them and you know their parents. You also know on the weekends and in the summer they ring your doorbell at 8:00 am and would stay forever if you would let them. When you casually mention to their mother that her darling is “sure enjoying hanging out with your family for 14 hours a day” the standard reply is “I know. Isn’t it great we live in such a kid friendly neighborhood.”

Yeah, the kid friendly thing is great alright and the whole it takes a village is an awesome concept, but you didn’t sign up to be a free nanny and there are many times your own kids are enough to handle without raising another one.

As for the whole back in the day argument that goes something like this: “We left on our bikes in the morning and didn’t come home till we got hungry at night and look we turned out fine.”

Let me run this hypothesis by you. I would like to propose that the reason parents today are so, let’s say, protective, is because we spent our childhoods scared to death. Seriously, the things I did as a child I would never allow my kids the “freedom” to do. No way. No how. (Let’s see, I played on the train tracks, went off a homemade rope swing into a reservoir of questionable depth by myself because no one else wanted to swim and that’s just on one Saturday morning circa 1976.)

Another flaw in the back in the day scenario is that the world has changed. By letting your child roam you are not doing your part to restore America to the sensibilities of the Andy Griffith show. Aunt Bee is not home cooking pies. She’s running ConAgra.

For sure, I will admit parents today are hovering and helicoptering. We have our kids in a stranglehold that we like to tell ourselves is just a great big hug. (Or is that just me that does that?) But letting your kid free range is not the answer.

Primarily because childhood is exceedingly short, most especially the days when your kid would love nothing better than going to the park and hang out with you. These moments shouldn’t be shunned, pushed off on others or used as a teachable moment in independence. They should be savored because in a blink they’re gone and soon things like a phone will replace you as your child’s constant and steadfast companion.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

Ode to My Mother Who Kicked Ass

Parenting gurus like to share the theory that by the time a child reaches the age of 10 mothers lose their place as the primary influencer in their kids’ lives. I was always skeptical of this belief and felt that these so called experts simply enjoyed torturing parents by using this supposition as a sort of scared straight program for hovering moms.

Now, I can tell you that, without a doubt, that the often-repeated parenting claim is not true. Your mother’s influence never ever goes away or loses its impact. I know this because my funny, wise, beautiful and hard-working mother, Gwen Claypool, recently passed away.

I was given the honor of writing her eulogy, which was, I think, a brave choice for my mom to make. She had to have known I would deliver an untraditional tribute.

For sure, some older ladies got a little ticked off when I celebrated my mom’s talent for seriously kicking butt. She was a force to be reckoned with how could I not celebrate that? The fact that she had, during her life, kicked the fannies of some of the ladies present at her service, well sorry (but you know, not really).

The act of writing my mother’s eulogy, of putting on paper everything she had done, and what she meant to me crystallized the fact that what you learn from your mom is steeped into the deepest parts of your brain and soul.

I know my love of reading comes directly from my mother. We would go the library with two laundry hampers, fill them full of books, and spend days just wallowing in the written word.

My mother, descended from Puritans, also valued a work ethic. There was never an excuse to not honor your commitments. Whenever I want to get out of doing something I see her face and it’s giving me the look that says, “I’m disappointed you are even wasting time entertaining this thought.”

She was smart as they come and had no time for “intelligent people doing ignorant things.” This lead to her having zero tolerance for stupidity in any form and if you were being stupid she’d let you know it even if you were a stranger. Of course, being from the South she would put it in such a way that you didn’t really know you were getting the stern scold.

Not being from the South, yet watching my mother’s campaign against idiots, I took up her gauntlet and have attempted to continue this crusade. The problem is I can’t do it with the grace she did. I’ve tried, but I just don’t have her innate charm. (Although, I was sent to charm school, but that’s a story for another day.)

One of the biggest gifts my mom bequeathed me was the freedom to be myself. She was a nonconformist and “felt tremendous sadness” for the herd. This even translated to clothing choices.

When I was a teenager it was the preppy era of fashion. Everyone was wearing $40 Ralph Lauren Polo shirts which back in the early 80’s was pretty pricey. My mother refused to let me buy any Polo garments (even if I was going to use my own money). Her response to my whining was “Why don’t I just let you wear a sandwich board that reads ‘My mother failed because I think a horse on a shirt is important.’”

To this day I can’t buy name brands. Northface, Patagonia, Uggs – never going to happen.

Another wonderful thing about my mom was that she was funny and slyly sarcastic. Someone the other day asked me where I got my signature eye roll. I replied my mother. He laughed and said, “You owe her. It’s a great eye roll.”

She also knew how to hold a grudge and in fact, considered it a character flaw if you didn’t have the “moral fiber to archive dishonesty.” Granted being Southern the grudge was concealed, kind of like pecans in a 10 layered pea salad, but, trust me, it was there.

Sometimes she was very serious in her archival pursuits other times she was joyously silly. For example, she had an encyclopedic memory of who gave me what for a wedding present. And to the woman who gave me a chip and dip platter from Target after she gifted that women’s three daughters with very nice sterling silver all I have to say is since 1984 she’s referred to the woman as “Chip and Dip.”

So, here’s what I have to share with all experts – a parent who has done their job well never loses their influence. In fact, one of the proudest things I will ever say is that I am Gwen Claypool’s daughter.