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Davis Journal

Life and Laughter – Better than perfect

May 06, 2021 12:40PM ● By Peri Kinder

Moms are good for all kinds of things; homemade cookies, clean underwear, and guilt, just to name a few. Although each mom is different, we often feel we’re doing everything wrong when it comes to raising children. Do we back off, step in, offer advice, stay silent, help them succeed, let them fail? We’re never sure and we’re usually winging it, just doing the best we can.

It reminds me of when my brother knocked the wind out of himself by being stupid. Mom thought he was choking and performed the Heimlich. He couldn’t breathe for two hours. She did the best she could with the information she had.

I love mom but she wasn’t perfect. Thank heavens.

She cheated at Skip-Bo, had no patience with stupidity, and hated animals with a passion. When she got remarried and moved to a ranch in North Carolina, we found it a unique and hilarious karma. Her emails to me often started with, “Well, I kicked the rooster again today.”

Mom might have loathed poultry, but when the wind snapped her beautiful globe willow tree in half, she mourned it like a family member. Every spring, mom’s garden would bloom with color. She loved ladybugs and butterflies. She’d also hand my daughters a saltshaker and tell them to feed the snails. (They didn’t realize their role in her evil extermination plot until much later.)

She taught my girls that flipping off another driver was perfectly acceptable – even necessary. Convinced that video games would usher in the apocalypse, mom refused to buy an Atari system, but she sewed puppets to teach us stories from classic literature like Hamlet and Beowulf. (I threw the Ophelia hand puppet into the river, watching her skirts float up around her as she sank to her death. My childhood was a bit melodramatic.)

Mom could be stubborn to the point of madness, but she was also whip smart and ready to jump into a theological debate at the drop of a Bible. 

She’d experienced a lot of loss and trauma in her life and wasn’t a mom who showered us with hugs and kisses, but we never doubted she loved us. She wasn’t just a mama bear; she was a mama velociraptor when it came to defending her kids.

Mom once told me her children were her inspiration. An inspiration to move across the country.

As a final joke, mom requested each of her children to speak at her funeral. I considered digging up the Beowulf puppets and delivering her eulogy via Grendel, the monstrous creature doomed to wander the earth. She would have loved it.

Mom worked as a teacher’s aide at an elementary school before she died. (I don’t think the two are connected, but it was an elementary school.) At the funeral, her coworkers told me what a great woman she was. I already knew that.

We often put the dead on a pedestal (which is dangerous because they can roll off and fall on people). But mom wouldn’t want to be remembered as being a perfect person who never messed up, got angry, felt alone, burned dinner, swore, failed, tried again, and again, and again.

If you’re a mom on Mother’s Day this year, that’s the message for you. You were never meant to get everything right. You don’t need to achieve perfection. It isn’t even possible. Just embrace your wonderful messiness.

My mom was better than perfect. She was human.