Monday motherhood: another return, a lunch-time epiphany

Where were we?

I received a text two weeks ago from my sister, informing me that she couldn’t access an old recipe on Daily Cup of Jo because the site was gone!  Poof!  “I’m sad,” she wrote.  For me, it was sorrow mixed with fear, as if a small animal had found itself inside my abdomen (don’t know how it got there), and kicked really hard.  The sadness was a reaction to feeling that the part of me (the Daily Cup part) separate from my life as a chauffeur and chef to three children, was over.  The fear came from my Catholic school upbringing.  I was in trouble and/or being punished – for all I know by the Lord himself – for neglecting my duties as a writer.  Also, there are abandonment issues.  WordPress had dumped me by the side of the road, alone, afraid, and without water.

Cut to: my new friend Glenn.  He’s got Daily Cup up and running again and with that, I feel a sense of renewal, particularly because we’re going to give it a facelift – change the tired template and add dancing babies.  So for those of you out there looking forward to the end of summer and kids back in school, you have one more thing about which to get excited.  I’m back, and while it’s egotistical to assume that me in your life is somehow empowering, or at least comforting – there it is.

Much has occurred since our last visit.  That fellow Snowden ended up in Russia where he better not be gay.  Anthony Weiner is still running for mayor of NYC despite his scummy-scum-scumness.  The devil of addiction killed Cory Monteith.  A little prince was born.  Hillary dined at the White House.  Egypt continues its struggles.  Mandela still lives.  Obamacare marches on despite House Republicans tired attempts to stop it.  Pre-season football began last night.

But it’s still Monday where I live so let’s talk motherhood, even if you don’t have children.  At the very least, you were young once.  Remember?  Like it was yesterday.

Goldie is headed off to high school in two weeks and OH. MY. GOD.  There are at least seven more very important conversations I need to have with her beforehand, like the ‘maturation of the prefrontal cortex’ talk.  Should be a ton of fun, and as she reads this blog, I might as well ask, “When would you like to schedule that chat, honey?”  The husband has told her she can’t have a boyfriend until she’s twenty-five, which is around the time the cortex is fully developed, so I support him.

You see, before certain circumstances arose for me in high school, I thought I was going to be president.  But shit happened – including the early stages of addiction, a crippling loss of self-confidence, abandonment issues I mentioned earlier – and well, life took a different path.  Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink.  I’m fine now, thank you, and happily NOT president, but if I can ward off certain evils that can creep into the adolescent life – by having a better relationship with my teenage daughter than my own mother had with me – then dammit, I’m going to.  So Goldie, you’ve been warned.  You can try and shake me, but I’m not the devil on your back.  I’m the angel in your pocket.

Today has been typical between us, except for that epiphany that landed gently on the table while sitting across from each other at lunch.  Goldie was sullen, I thought, because I’d asked her earlier to turn off the television and go make her bed.  Turns out the bonus comment I made, “Don’t be so unproductive,” was what set her off.  According to Goldie, I can ask her to do something, even shout at her to walk the dogs, but judgment tacked on anywhere is problematic.  When she asks me to microwave her a slice of pizza and I say something like, “What are you, helpless?” she ends up angry and sad.  If I asked, “Could you do it yourself, please? I’m a little busy,” the anger would subside quickly and we’d be on to the next thing.  Sitting at lunch today, hearing her explain this to me, was a revelation.  By judging her in an unflattering light, I was, to put it simply, making her feel bad about herself.  That’s the very last thing a teenager needs, especially from their mom.  They’re already, if not crippled, at least stymied by insecurity.

The rest of the day was basically, “Goldie do this” and “Goldie do that”.  It was matter of fact.  I need stuff done; I always do.  She needs more self-confidence; what adolescent doesn’t?  Somehow these two needs can coincide, and not necessarily conflict.  It was an excellent lesson in parenting, delivered by my fourteen-year-old daughter.  I must be doing something right.


BTW, I’m so happy to be back (once again).



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  1. Mary Anne says

    thank God. I tried to access the website for one of the many recipes I now call my own (but are really yours) and was very scared. Selfish me. I should have printed them off years ago.
    Good message – as usual I have a similar experience. Glad you are back.

  2. Bill Bremer says

    Glad you’re back, JoAnn, and I congratulate you and your hubby on having such a perceptive–and articulate–daughter. (You gotta love it when they turn the tables and hand you a teachable moment.)

    One thing, though–go easy on the dancing babies, would ya?


  3. Janet says

    Dearest JoAnn,

    I am beyond blissful that you are back. I was having major separation anxiety, and I don’t even want to address my abandonment issues in a public fashion.
    Let’s just leave it at, they are big, very, very big. May I borrow your slogan of “I am not the devil on your back, but the angel in your pocket?” I think that it is
    brilliant, catchy, and well, I want my T-shirt now with it boldly proclaimed. I can see the sales now! Sincerely yours, Janet

  4. Mare says

    Okay, that whole thing about “devil on your back, angel in your pocket” should be framed as inspiration…and a reminder to our children when they’re young. It’s so true, but we’re usually much older when we figure out that our parent’s always meant well and really just wanted the best for us.
    And Goldie’s ability to express what it is she really needs to hear and how better to ask for it, made me teary. I was much older and had to pay a lot of money to a therapist to figure out how to ask for what I needed from people I love. I’m blown away. She’s somethin’ that kid! Watch out…I see a blog in her future!!!

    • says

      Thanks all for your support. Part of that line – devil on your back, angel in your pocket – was inspired by Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out”/’it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back’ – but I love the idea of t-shirts, buttons, and wall art. Perhaps even a tattoo? Parenting is hard. – Jo

  5. Kerry says

    Thank goodness that You are back in My life. It truly does feel empowering and extremely comforting.
    Thank you for being here.

  6. Kristy says

    Hubby asked me three times if I’d read your Monday blog, then he emailed me an excerpt of your words of wisdom about communicating with Goldie. Clearly this was intended as a blueprint for me and my interaction with son #1. So yes, we did miss you and we do need you!

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