When I was growing up. I recall having a cupboard above the phone where we stored our phonebooks, bills, pencils, and other odds and ends.
For some reason I was searching for something in that cupboard one night when I found a newspaper clipping of an article called, “The Meanest Mother in the World”
Being quite young, I read the article with just a bit difficulty and remember thinking, “Wow, my mom does all of this stuff.” when I got to the end, I didn’t appreciate the message of the article but rather thought it was some lame joke.
Still, I have never forgotten that article. For the message of the article has stuck in my mind. Through the years, my view of the ending has changed quite drastically. I get it now. Whether that be a little more maturity, life’s experience, gratitude towards my mother, or that fact that I am a mother myself, I am grateful for the ending… and for the message of the article that has stuck with me.
Rather than putting the whole article here, it can be googled if you wish to read it in it‘s entirety. It’s written by Bobbie Pingaro in 1967. See? I told you I was young :) But here is enough of it so you get the idea:
I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate
candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast.
My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You'd
think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and
where we were going. She insisted if we said we'd be gone an hour, that
we be gone one hour or less--not one hour and one minute.
The worst is yet to come.
We had to be in bed by nine each night
and up at eight the next morning. We couldn't sleep till noon like our
friends. So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break
the child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make
beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid
awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.
She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and it nearly did.
By the time we were teen-agers, she was much wiser, and our life
became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of a car for
us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates
and friends come to the door to get us.
Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends'
report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red for
failing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle for
nothing less than ugly black marks.
As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was put
to shame. We were graduated from high school. With our mother behind
us, talking, hitting and demanding respect, none of us was allowed the
pleasure of being a drop-out.
My mother was a complete failure as a mother.
Out of four children, a couple of us attained some higher education.
None of us have ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his mate.
Each of my brothers served his time in the service of this country. And
whom do we have to blame for the terrible way we turned out?
You're right, our mean mother.
Look at the things we missed. We never got to march in a
protest parade, nor to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a
million and one other things that our friends did.
She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults.
Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my three
children. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when my
children call me mean.
Because, you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in
the whole world.
Last year around this time, I wrote a tribute to my mother in my post for Mother’s Day. I bring up this article now because as Mother’s Day rolls around, I not only think of my dear angel mother and all that she tried so earnestly to teach me, I think of myself being a mother and what I have tried to teach my own children. Have some of my mother’s traits passed from one generation to the next?
Am I the meanest mother in the world? There are certainly days when my children would vigorously nod their heads. Surely I had my days when I felt like I was the meanest mother in the world. We, together as a family have been on a learning curve since day one. However, I did have my mother as a wonderful example and I thank my Father up above that I had her footsteps to follow and to help me on my path.
As I reflect over the years of being a mother, I get teary eyed and my heart swells. My children are my pride and joy. They are truly the miracles in my life. Now I have a daughter and a grandson to add to my mother and grand-motherhood. What more could I ask for?
As the saying goes, (maybe I have tweaked it just a bit) but,
“Some of the greatest blessings in my life call me Mother “
I love being a mother (and grandma). There have been times that I have been accused of being the meanest mother in the world, and well, though I don’t cherish the name, ”meanest” because it carries a negative connotation, after this article, maybe it has a positive significance.
If that’s what taught my children to be all that they can possibly be-- and I learned it from a mother who taught me some very valuable life lessons about being the best that I can be, maybe the lessons and the teacher aren’t so mean after all.
May we all be the meanest mother in the world with the most honorable actions and intentions.
Happy Mother’s Day!