My mom, Crazy Pat, has always really been into the Erma Bombeck books. She would buy the hardbacks, read them cover to cover, and then let me read them. The two I most vividly remember are Family – The Ties That Bind…And Gag! and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits? It was 1987, and both of these books were keepers.
In 1987, I was 15. It was a strange year. I was a sophomore in high school in New Jersey. I had frizzy hair, the wrong clothes, braces and even a bionator – which is orthodontist speak for torture device – see my post on Teen Gooberville. I worked at a doughnut shop in the mall where I had to wear a t-shirt that said “A Hole Like No Other.” I. am. not. kidding. (This shirt will have to be a topic for an entire other post). 😉
Every evening, no matter what, my mom could be found snuggled in on the sofa (or couch – whatever you want to call it depending on the region where you reside) reading Erma and laughing hysterically. I had to read that book!
Looking back, after getting married, having children and dealing with progressive-like family dinners during any holiday, I decided that I needed to look at these books again, with a new perspective.
Here are some things I have rediscovered through Erma (all of her famous quips are in quotes):
Don’t deny yourself the little things. “Just think of all those women on the Titanic who said, ‘No thank you’ to desert that night. And for what?!”
There are no instruction manuals on how to being a good parent. “When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911. ”
Pets are important members of a family. “Despite all the demands pets put on you, in the pecking order of a family, they are right near the top.” and “A dog will sit with you through the worst television show…and never once will he try to change the channel.”
Life may hand you lemons, and that is just life. “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”
A clean house is for the birds. “Housework can kill you if done right.” and “Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.” and “Housework, if it is done properly, can cause brain damage.”
Be a good listener. “I love my mother for all the times she said absolutely nothing…Thinking back on it all, it must have been the most difficult part of mothering she ever had to do: knowing the outcome, yet feeling she had no right to keep me from charting my own path. I thank her for all her virtues, but mostly for never once having said, “I told you so.”
Having children can make one feel like a crazy psycho at times. “Insanity is hereditary. You can catch it from your kids.”
Family is important. “Families aren’t easy to join. They’re like an exclusive country club where membership makes impossible demands and the dues for an outsider are exorbitant.”
Justifying my kitchen prowess (or not so much of one). “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes.”
Recycle, reduce, reuse. “I found a letter to my sister the other day that I had forgotten to mail. It just needed a little updating to send. After “The baby is…..” I crossed out “toilet trained” and wrote in “graduating from high school this month.”
Laughter is highly important. “When humor goes, there goes civilization.” and “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.” Amen, sister.
I wonder what Erma would think of blogging today. Would she thoroughly enjoy the sharing of silly stories, life lessons and bittersweet sentiments? Would she laugh at my doughnut shop uniform? I think she would be pleased with this paradise of connecting through technology. Thanks, Erma, for being the first to really write with flair, laughter and humbleness. Glad I rediscovered you.