The Parental Bar Was Set Low For Mother

Mother never had high standards for house cleaning, meal planning or most other chores. Her motto was:

There’s always tomorrow…or next week…or next month.

CleaningMy sister and I learned not to set our expectations too high when it came to our mother. That way we were not disappointed. Or at least we were not disappointed as often.

Still, it was difficult to be a child and set your expectations of one of your own parents so low. In school, I often heard other children talking about some special little thing their mother did for them that morning that just made their day. It bothered me to hear these things and, in contrast, to think of how my own mother did nothing of the sort. She just simply could not be bothered, or she did not have time, or she just didn’t see the point in making a big fuss over such little things as she so often reminded me.

However, I do remember one time when she made a peanut butter sandwich for me. She cut it diagonally and I was so impressed. I could hardly believe it! She had never done this before and I thought for that one brief moment that she had become a clone of Betty Crocker.

Usually the sandwich situation went something like this: I would say:

I hate the crusts.  Just once could you cut it off my sandwich?

And Mother would reply in her special way:

What is wrong with you? You know I don’t have time for this. You’re just lucky I even made you a sandwich.

Well, having Mother go from the usual sandwich bitch routine to cutting it diagonally seemed like a miracle. And just like most miracles, it was never repeated. I’m not sure if it was because I couldn’t stop talking about it or because she wanted to let me know that it was so exhausting that she could never repeat the task.

LardI remember also being thankful that I was not being served one of Mother’s famous lard sandwiches. Even if cut diagonally, her lard sandwich was the foodstuff of nightmares. I had decided at a very young age that I would rather go hungry than eat another lard sandwich.

No doubt because of this, when my daughter Fiona was born, if she wanted the crust off, I made sure the crust was off. When I fixed her a sandwich, I made sure to always cut it diagonally. And yes, she was properly impressed every time I did so. Often it is the little, special things a parent does that children remember.

Dive barFor example, my sister Abby and I fondly remember the little, special things our dad did with us. The Sunday car rides, reading the classics, nature walks, just spending time together. All of these memories made up for the low bar set by our mother. In fact, when I think about it, the only bar she set high was the stool she sat upon while getting boozed up at the local tap.

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