Sunday, May 20, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

June Cleaver or Peg Bundy? The choice is yours, kids

I’m convinced that becoming a mother activates a genetic strand that provokes an alternate personality.

In one corner is the loving, nurturing, compassionate side of mom that most resembles June Cleaver, the ever-understanding mother from Leave It To Beaver, the idyllic 1960s show. In the other corner is the oblivious, selfish, neglectful Peg Bundy from the antifamily comedy of the '90s, Married ... With Children.

Being a single mom of three kids, working full time, and maintaining the home and everything that transpires in it makes it a flip of the coin as to which mom my kids get. Of course they prefer June Cleaver, but by now, they're all too aware of a few of the triggers that elicit a different side of me. Note: Awareness does not necessarily lead to avoidance.

Let's examine what wakes up my inner Peg Bundy.

• Waiting to begin talking to me during my favorite shows like The Voice or True Blood.

(I never implied that all of these would be valid reasons to showcase Peg.)

• Bringing me a form to sign after 9 p.m. or as I'm dropping them off at school.

• If aforementioned form requires me driving to the ATM to get them money that was due yesterday.

• Waiting until after 10 p.m. to wash clothes that they want to wear the next day.

• Asking if I will stay up to put said clothes in the dryer.

• When they fight with each other.

• Saying "I love you, Mommy" in their sneaky voice with a cute smiling face tilted to one side, followed by some form of question that requires my money or taxi services.

• A call from a teacher, an in-school suspension or an emergency conference. (This actually causes Peg to morph Medusa. It's not a pleasant scene.)

All is not lost. June is still alive and kicking. Lately, the teenagers have been giving her a plethora of beauty rest. But, it's like a world of rainbows and unicorns when June gets to see the light of day, especially during moments like these:

• When they get good grades on a test and their report cards.

• When I see a hint of kindness for their siblings.

• When they want to help someone in need.

• When they are sick.

• When I come home and chores are done without my having to ask, which is often a diversionary tactic followed with a hug and request for my services — again.

• When they do something I asked after the first request. (I'm certain they just want to avoid the ugly yell while I'm grinding my teeth.)

• When a relationship ends and they're emotionally distraught.

• When they hug me and say, "I love you, Mom" without asking for something in return.

• When they repeat a quote I once said to them because they applied it to life. It reminds me that not only do they listen but that they "get it."

• When they tell visiting friends I make the best "whatever." It makes me want to bake, but Betty Crocker I am not. Before I attempt to create a baked disaster, Peg usually interrupts and we end up at Cold Stone.

I love both "moms" in me. Medusa I could do without, but she may just be a necessary evil. June adores her kids and wants them to be successful, happy, loving people. Peg is teaching them that you have to take care of yourself and be independent.

The kids keep Peg busy. Lately, they've even brought Medusa out. June fights to get out and often is triumphant. Today, however, June is face-down in the dirt while Peg is standing tall above her, lightly digging her stiletto heel into her back. I am not sure when Peg will get a good night's sleep, but she is strong. She can stand her ground, and on June's back, until these kids get it together.

Heather Tempesta is a Brandon mother of two sons, 17 and 10, and a daughter, 15.

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