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Mattie Jo's: How To Be a Good Mom You Idiots

A weird thing happens when your parents become empty nesters and you become a full-fledged adult. You realize they were always real people. The whole time you were growing up! How bout that. They wanted to drink wine and watch TV and buy boats but they couldn't because they had you to worry about. And they worried about you all the time. So they couldn't do a lot of the things they wanted to do (This is why I'm still not a parent. I want to drunk eat at diners at my leisure. Also I'm not married). It also makes watching them very funny. Especially when your desires are so different from theirs. For example my father has a very strong desire for the Cubs to win the World Series. And I don't like baseball because why are professional athletes allowed to be fat? Unless they're linemen, I don't think it's okay. And My mom has a very strong desire for all her children to be married, with 4 children, and living in Taney County. Only 1 of us has complied. This is why Krischanda is mom's favorite child.

As a kid, I was always a daddy's girl. I don't remember even liking my mom til around age 17. I mean I guess I liked her alright. I just didn't know very much about her. I knew she loved coffee and did not love cooking and she had huge crush on my dad (Isn't that a crazy thing I grew up with? Never once doubting my parents' love for each other. I bet I am 1 of maybe 24 kids in the U.S. to experience this. 3 of them are my siblings. The other 20 are Jews. Or Indians from India). She used to do crazy things like throw our towels in the dryer (or microwave. Yeah pretty sure my mom burnt our towels doing this. Or maybe we just had a shitty dryer. I just know there were definitely burn marks on our towels. I also think she used to dry us with dish towels. Check the validity of this statement...) so we'd be cozy and warm out of the bath. She'd also blow dry and style our hair at age 6. She used to let me wear above the knee skirts to school in the winter as per my request. She knew I would start with pants after my first sub 40 degree recess (this is a great exercise, parents. Let your kids do things that will harm them or make them uncomfortable. They will stop doing these things. Unless the thing they're doing is drugs. In which case, it might take a long time for them to stop but if you have raised them with a brain and/or pre-adolescent therapy, they will eventually stop).

She started shaving my legs in 2nd grade because I begged her. The boys at school would throw rocks at me and make fun of my hairy legs (what a terrible thing, looking back. I mean. Let's make something very clear: I have never had an issue with the boys club. My first boyfriend was Tony in Kindergarten. Before that a boy named Michael made up songs about me in nursery school at a Baptist Convention. I should check how that kid turned out. Mark Cowsert, do you know his parents? Anyway, these boys were flirting with me. I know this because obviously. But how terrible! Men learn to be shitty to women so early! Rocks? My "hairy" legs?!

Needless to say, I have a complex. Not about rocks. I'm pretty apathetic about rocks unless they're being thrown at me. It is national Fossil Day though*. Yay rocks! But about hair on my legs. I still can't makeout/go on a date/eat a bagel with hair on my legs). I would cry and cry and beg and beg. So she finally gave in and actually shaved my legs for me. These are things mothers do! Or at least my mother. SHE SHAVED MY LEGS. She also let me grow my hair to an ungodly disgusting length simply because I wanted to. She would lie and say we couldn't afford certain toys for Christmas and then she would find them on sale or the generic brand (I had a Blade scooter instead of a Razor scooter. But does it really matter? They both scooted. And My 5th grade juvenile boyfriend stole it. Hey, Brian Cannon. I want that back!) and they would be under the Christmas tree. She went through a phase where she made muffins for us every morning. That was a wonderful phase. She would push me around in the shopping cart until I was way too old (last year I finally had to be like "look mom. I can walk."). She let(s) me talk loudly in public even though I rarely spoke (speak) without embarrassing her. She would go home on her lunch breaks and make me soups or smoothies so they'd be freshly hot/cold for me at school. SHE ACTUALLY DID THAT! She let me spend all the money I made from being the cutest Mattie Cowgirl (improv at its finest! I introduced myself as this on stage one night. No one told me to. I was 7.) on Beanie Babies. In hindsight the better choice would have been college. But I was only making $80/week and she liked how happy Beanie Babies made me (Now mom uses those Beanie Babies as seasonal decorations. So maybe she had some ulterior motives...). She also took us to that damn show 5 nights a week. And when Mattie Jo Cowgirl got upgraded to the "Big Show" (the main show. After the pre-show. Most of the kids were only in the pre show. Unless you were really talented or the producer's granddaughter) she started shuffling around to get me there in the afternoons! This did not last long. I suppose this is when my parents realized they were not cut out for showbiz and maybe my dreams of being on stage had to die til my future was in my own hands. I would get my next shot in 6th grade when a production of Joseph and the blah blah Dreamcoat was coming to Branson. Again. My parents took me out/I think I was fired for being too loud and calling some kid gay. Because he was! Is. He's out now and a kickass dancer. Mattie Jo knows her gay boyfriends. Anyway my mom took me to those shows too! She bought me curlers and my first thong (I had to wear spandex in the show). It was purple and from the clearance rack at Wal-mart. She made sure it was the most repulsive thong no one had any business of seeing because she is a smart lady. She once got on the phone with some girl who was sleeping with my older sister's boyfriend. She told her she could get her fired from her grocery store job and that there were names for girls like her. While my feminist heart cringes at my mother making another female feel bad for something that was equally a man's fault, I know she was simply standing up for her daughter. Using them fightin words to scare. More mothers should try to scare kids who are making their kids' lives miserable. Step in, moms! Kids are such shits! Let them know they're shits and you will gladly set them on fire in a paper bag full of poop. I not-so-secretly can't wait to do that for my son/daughter someday. Complete with slapping/turning over to ISIS(I'm kidding...) whomever is cheating on my son/daughter.


Here are some pictures of my mom doing what she does best:

I couldn't find a picture of her twerking.


She would sit on the couch at night watching Everybody Loves Raymond and cackle/drool (not because my mom was into ray Ramano. But because when my mom laughs too hard, she drools. It is easily the funniest but not weirdest thing about her). This was my mom being a real person. I didn't watch that part of her life. I only heard it. And why was my mom watching TV? Didn't she have a lunch to pack or a diaper to change? Not mine, just anybody's because she's a mom and that's what moms do. Anyway, these are all memories I have of the mom I "liked". LOL. Children are the worst. Thank God they turn into adults and realize how amazing their mothers were/are.

This could potentially go on for pages, just a fair warning.

It was around age 17, when I was recovering from Anorexia, that I really started to love my mom. She would cry to me and ask me if I wanted to die. "Because that's what's going to happen, Mattie! Your hair is falling out and you're going to die if you don't eat something!!!" This would cause us to get in terrible fights. Mom was scared. Her 15 year old was falling apart in front of her and not because of hormones. I imagine this was not an ideal situation when also thinking about needing to ship off the box of Lucky Charms in your kitchen to your son in L.A. so he could have dinner for a few weeks. Like, she was dealing with all of this! And managed to go to work everyday and not totally lose her shit. Just. How? I was on vacation with my family in Cabo when my Anorexia was the worst. I would get sick from eating and stay in our resort room curled up in one of my dad's giant man shirts. She came in one day to me crying. She asked me why I was crying and I said I didn't know. "That's why I'm so scared. There's nothing wrong. I just can't make myself do anything." She kissed me and held me and cried and told me she's scared too. She misses my spirit and excitement for life. And she knows I'm suffering but it would mean a lot if I could manage some pool time with the family. But she won't force anything. She told me it was going to get better. I asked how she knew. Re: previous blog. ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER THEY JUST KNOW SHIT. She was right. Look at me now! So plump and jolly. I made it out on the other side.



Look at me now! So plump and jolly. I made it out on the other side.


The other side is when I REALLY loved my mom. I wasn't mad at her for not understanding me or complaining about my food intake. She had done everything in her power to nurse me to health. She didn't just roll over because it was too hard or she was too tired and would rather do meth or whatever it is that not so great moms do sometimes. She invested so much time, love, and hugs to me. Because she wanted me to be the best version of me. And now fun things! Prom! Homecoming! Sports (my mom hated sports but came to our events anyway)! Boys! My favorite conversations with my mom were debunking the stuff they told us at church. I can't even begin. One time a small group leader made me feel bad for watching Dirty Dancing. My mom didn't care what that lady said because she found that lady wildly annoying and uptight, which she totally told me. I continued to watch Dirty Dancing. She would tell us to calm down with the dating books. "Can't it just be fun?" I also got to spend 2 wonderful years in the house alone with my parents. It was in these years that I started noticing real people and not just mom and dad. They did so much on their own! Probably because they were "almost done with parenting" and they were certainly sick of me. Also I was always out with my post-anorexia friends so I wasn't around too much.

In college my mom mostly “disliked” that I was dating that Catholic dude. Not because he was Catholic but because she found him stifling. Mother didn’t see the appeal whatsoever and reminded me every time Catholic and I had a fight. She once encouraged me to go after another guy I told her I’d met while hammered at Katherine’s 21st birthday party. This is how strongly mom felt that relationship was just waiting to implode. I also started drinking so she started drinking. Mom is a closeted lover of the buzz. She puts wine/vodka in coffee cups when extended family visits and after a long day but she still wants to see the grandkids. Let me tell you, mommy. You are not alone. And how you made it through all those years of motherhood without wine, I'll never know. She hated Moms Day with my sorority but would come anyway. When I stopped coming home every Sunday for church she offered to pay for my gas just so I'd come home every weekend. Those were sweet times.

Now I live in NYC and my mother is in Missouri and she is my best friend. I can always count on her to cheer me up in a way only those who truly know your soul can do. She makes me laugh and also thinks I'm hilarious. This might be the best part about my relationship with her. We just laugh a lot. And cry. I can feel her arms around me through her loudly speaking into an iPhone she still doesn't understand works properly without screaming (microphone technology is really great, old people). She accidentally Facetimes me at least 4 times a week. One time she was calling me while I was in a cab with Eliza. I said "watch, Eliza. My mom will have meant to call someone else." I picked up.

Me: hello?

Mom: (pause) who's this?

Eliza: dies laughing

I've still never heard Eliza laugh harder. I thought we might both pee our pants right there.

I call and tell her about my fears of failing as an actress. Failing as a giver of love. Failing at resisting Oreos. Failing failing failing. My mom said to me once "I just worry about you kids. Well, actually I don't worry about you. You seem to have it all together." Ha! (If that doesn't mean I'm adulting properly, I don't know what does) She tells me if anyone can do this, it's me. That she doesn't know where I got my courage. It wasn't from her (this isn't true. My mom lived as a preacher's wife for many years. That is some scary shit.) And then I cryptically update her on my love life until 2 weeks later when I need her to remind me I'm awesome again.

You know why my mom is the absolute best? And also the reason her kids get their hearts broken probably a little too easily? Because my mother is selflessness personified. Most everything she does is to better those she loves. And to be honest, she's not a quick giver of love. That's my dad. My dad sees the good in everyone while my mom stands closely by to remind him most people are assholes. My mom chooses to love people who are worthy of her love, but not always receptive (i.e. children). But she loves them anyway. The reason my siblings and I make great friends, employees, and (one day) great spouses is because my mom loved to make us better. She threw and still throws her entire self into us. Unrelentingly pursuing our hearts while still letting us be ourselves. As I watch NYC moms be so fucking overbearing I want to be like "your life will have so much less stress if you just let your daughter wear an above the knee skirt in 34 degree weather." She didn't force us to be anything. She just gave and gave and then warmed our towels. My heart hurts when I love like this. Because very few people can love like this in return. But thank you, mommy. You taught me to love well. Mommies like you are the reason mommies and wives like Krischanda exist. Mentors and world changers like Ashley exist. Passionate artists and teachers like Derek exist. And...whatever I am exists. Because you gave/give so much, generations will be changed. So look at you, you badass. You did all that and didn't even have to leave Taney County. Happy birthday, mommy. I love you to the moon.


* I wrote this awhile back. Today is not National Fossil Day. It's actually Pearl Harbor Day but also my mom's birthday so let's focus on the not depressing holiday.

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