Mother’s Day approaches, so I am sharing an excerpt from an essay written by my late mother, Teckla, in 2002.
My first child was a diminutive pink daughter, weighing in at five pounds and twelve ounces; she is 22 now and very much her own person. At that time when she was young and vulnerable, I viewed her as an extension of myself, someone to mold and shape into a perfect person. Proper meals were fixed for this little girl, suitable toothbrushes acquired, lessons studied and correct manners taught. (Please, thank you, and may I.) Attempts to dress her as a little girl with the lace and frills, this endeavor to dress her stylishly for a female child, ended when she was about four, whereupon she took to demanding her own approach to everything: the food she ate, the thoughts she thought and the clothes she wore.
She has adopted the grunge look. She wears her Carhart pants and jacket ensemble, and the Handy Andy gloves. Or on better days she can be seen in blue jeans and a t-shirt. She also has these olive-green crepe soled shoes that go everywhere with her; they have long ago lost their shape and have acquired the look of a squished moldy frog. To say the least, she left the frills behind and has developed a look, I refer to as practical outdoor wear.
Let this not fool you into believing that she slops hogs for a living, she has maintained dignity throughout her young life, and chooses to adopt this form of dress for its lack of pretentiousness. I would hand over the lives of her two brothers to her, at her tender age of 22 and not dwell another moment on it, if this needed to be done. I would not gives this monumental task to just any breathing soul.
My second child was a strange-looking little fellow, given to orange hues of jaundice on a baby purple body, weighing in at four pounds and nine ounces upon shrinking down from a relatively healthy six pounds. He was a rather pathetic looking fellow. This little fellow has developed into a large specimen, weighing in at 200 pounds and standing five foot eleven inches tall. He is seventeen and as his mother I was never given to the attempt to develop him into an extension of myself. Perhaps, because he is male or perhaps I recognized it as a futility, having gotten his sister on her on feet and running just a couple of years earlier. I did not choose his clothes or attempt to teach him any manners, other than what he picked up in the event of everyday living. When he finally did get dressed, at the age of. . .five years old (he was given to running around in the nude), he chose the traditional blue jeans. At all times he was seen wearing a black cowboy hat, always a few sizes to big for him. With his eyes covered, he terrorized the large enclosed yard filled with family dogs and a Reservation Appaloosa gelding by the name of Johnny.
Now with twelve additional years under his belt he has developed into the male peacock of the family. While his sister and I grunge around, he spends hours selecting the appropriate attire to simply get horseback and ride to places where no one has a chance in hell of seeing him. He has the correct shirt and the correct length of pants, the right shade of wool vests, the corresponding hue of silk scarf, and a hat set at the proper angle to give the illusion of competence. All the while, his sister and I have neglected this fine art of dressing appropriately for the chosen occasion, he is carrying it to a supreme art.
At the time when I deemed it necessary to achieve the grand illusion of decency, I would have applauded his vanity in dress. Not so anymore, I see within behind the outward appearance of a young peacock. Another young person I would gladly give everything I possess to. Knowing that he will survive and prosper, even at the age of seventeen he could be handed the life of his younger brother* and maintain this little soul in a quite and dignified manner.
I have learned that the clothes to not always illustrate what truly lies in the heart. In my heart lie the thoughts and teachings of a lowly sheep rancher, given to dress for the practical process of life, to look for what is real.
*This guy wants pink cowboy boots. Another peacock in the making.