Saturday, May 11, 2013

Chicken Bones and the Moms

Dedicated to Florence, Shirley, Gudrun, Jean, Dorothy and Mary

Chicken Bones and her Mom.
Chicken Bones knew that Holly’s mom was nervous and screechy, and Holly was screamy too. Sometimes Chicken Bones went to Holly’s house, but only because Holly had a real Barbie dream home and nobody else in the neighbourhood did. Chicken Bones knew this was rude, but she just couldn’t resist. Inevitably, all the little girls would start squabbling and Chicken Bones would go next door to Kim’s house.

Chicken Bones with her Mom, her Grandma and her sisters.
Chicken Bones knew that Kim’s mom was calmer and quieter and she almost always let the kids play on the swing set in the back yard. She would stay nearby in the kitchen, and sometimes Chicken Bones would go inside for a drink of water just so she could see Kim’s mom’s very modern built-in oven and slide-out stove. Chicken Bones thought they must be a little bit rich because they had a dining room too. 

A few doors down, Colleen’s mom did not have a dining room, but she had a busy kitchen where she cooked different kinds of unusual foods. An omelette was something that Chicken Bones had never tasted at home. And Colleen’s mom always let Chicken Bones stay for supper and have sleep-overs and be silly. Colleen’s mom often had a little smirk on her face, in spite of herself.

Chicken Bones and friends perform for their moms.
Down the block, Chicken Bones liked to hang around Donna’s place because Donna had an old plywood trailer in her backyard. All the kids would perch on the rough edges and sing funny songs, and then Donna’s mom would make melty messy chocolate chip cookies and home-made bread that tasted like heaven. Chicken Bones would gobble up those treats and then run away when Donna’s brother showed up. (Once he threw a spider at her and she just never forgot that.)

Next door to Donna, was Shannon’s mom. She was glamorous and mysterious. She wore high heels and her hair was pulled back in a French roll. And she worked! She went out to a job every day. Chicken Bones didn’t know any other moms that did that and it made Chicken Bones a little bit nervous. She was too scared to go into Shannon’s living room because there was down-filled velvet furniture and it looked like a picture in a magazine. Even Shannon’s basement was not just a basement; it was a rec room. So Chicken Bones was pretty sure that this was the fanciest house on the street and it didn’t often have a mom in it so it felt really really different to her.

Chicken Bones' Mom let her have big birthday parties!
And then Chicken Bones would go home to her own mom.

Chicken Bones’ mom didn’t yell too much and she usually just said, “Go play outside” or “Go play in the basement”.  And before Chicken Bones had tests to write at school, her mom always said, ”think before you write!” and Chicken Bones tried hard.

Chicken Bones didn’t have official Barbie stuff, but she had a bunch of wooden crates that became the perfect house for all her dolls and all her friends’ dolls and nobody had too many arguments.

All dressed up for the first day of school.
Chicken Bones didn’t have a gym set, but her mom and dad hung a swing from a rafter in the basement so everyone could pump and push on the rainy days.

Chicken Bones’ mom made brownie cake and matrimonial cake and Chicken Bones could have “just one piece”, but it was perfect.

Chicken Bones’ mom had a clothes stand in the backyard so she could reach the clothesline, and all the kids made forts under it with blankets and the clothespins that were hanging nearby.

And Chicken Bones’ mom was sometimes dressed up a little bit fancy if it was a very special occasion, but mostly she wore shirts and pants and only a smidge of lipstick, and never housedresses.

At the end of the day, Chicken Bones felt cared for by all the moms in their own way. (But of course, more by her own mom because she was the best one for Chicken Bones.)

Chicken Bones' Mom let her have huge sleep-overs!
When Chicken Bones grew up and became Ari’s mom and Mary’s mom and Joe’s mom, she knew that sometimes she was cranky, sometimes cool, sometimes playful and sometimes stern. She could be an impressive baker, but some days she just had to be a store-bought bag of cookies shopper. She thought about exasperated exhaustion when babies wouldn’t sleep and the annoyance of other people’s frustrating children. She recalled the relieved pride of a fully toilet-trained toddler and the happy tears at elementary school concerts. She was a slob sometimes but other times, quite presentable. She worked lots, but stayed home when she could. She tried her best.

She still thinks about those moms of her childhood. Some of them have moved away, some have passed away and some are still right where they’ve always been. She knows that all of them did the best they could.

Chicken Bones knows now that all moms do.

Mother’s Day 2013

©Conni Cartlidge, 2013

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