A Good Idea
12:53 AM EDT, May 12, 2013
No one ever threatened me with my mom coming home. No one ever said, "You just wait until your mom gets home. You'll be sorry then."
Mom was much too delicate for that. She had dark hair and ivory skin, long perfectly polished oval nails, a soft musical voice and she hardly ever swore until my sister and I became teenagers.
There was no need for her to get physical, she was much too wily in the art of getting her own way to resort to that. She had an ace up her lacey sleeves. Grounding.
The day that I became a social butterfly was the day that all of the power went to my mother. She held my destiny in those soft, genteel hands of hers and she wasn't afraid to crush my dreams or kill my spirit by cutting me off from any contact with the outside world.
Break her favorite vase because I was chasing my cousin through the house after being warned two hundred times not to do it, could get me some unwanted time in my bedroom so I could think about the value of other people's belongings.
Come home with a C when you were capable of an A? Two hours at the kitchen table studying every night until the new report card came out. It didn't matter to her that I was missing some epic games of Red Rover. She wouldn't even listen to reason.
Talk back? Even as I was finishing my sentence I was heading for the chair where I would be forced to sit in for the next couple of minutes while I contemplated the value of authority.
Get in a hurry in the morning before school and root through all of my drawers and closet, and then leave every piece of clothing I owned lying on my bed or tossed on the floor? That night as soon as I got home, I would spend the next hour or two among the mess I had created – while she supervised the folding and hanging up of everything I had thrown around. Mom lounged around and didn't bother to help me at all.
If I was mean or hateful to my sister because I didn't get my own way, it would be ages until I ever got my own way again. I could expect to spend some quality time in my room writing down the things that I liked about her.
Act like a spoiled brat? Mandatory bedroom time until she could stand to be around me.
Lie? To her? To get out of trouble? Hah. That was the big one. I could expect to stay in my room until she could believe me again.
As I grew up, my room became the place for me to think about my behavior and how I could change it to fit into society. My room was nice, don't get me wrong. It had a pretty pink bedspread, frilly pink curtains, a little desk with a chair, a dresser with a mirror on it. But there was no TV, no radio, no phone, and most importantly, no friends.
My mom could do her evil grounding without worrying about me putting her every word or deed on Facebook. I couldn't text my friends and get sympathy from them. There was no tweeting about how my life was playing out in that bedroom. No way could I pass the time by playing Words With Friends with strangers or watching Hulu to catch up on the episodes of Glee that I missed.
I often wonder how a mother like mine, relying so much on the magical healing powers of grounding, would fare in today's world. I probably wouldn't have learned a thing from her. I would have been too busy in my little bubble of isolated socialization to know that mom had a lot to teach me about living with other people.
Thanks, mom. It feels good to be loved.
Happy Mother's Day.
(You may reach Janet at any time of the day or night simply by emailing her at email@example.com.)