I’ve come to realize that a little bit of what I want out of all authority figures in my life is for them to act like my mom. Which is terrible: Imagine the worst employee/writer/underling/volunteer you can. Pretend you’re the authority figure complaining to your friend about said needy underling. You’d probably say something like, “Good lord, does she think I’m her mom?”

People say things like this all the time: “Please clean up the conference room. The office manager is not your mom.” “You’re going to need to be better about deadlines. I’m not your mom.”

It’s not that I want anyone to clean up my messes, literal or figurative, but I do want the leaders in my life to be nurturing and organized, two qualities that defined my particular mom. I realized how strong this desire was when it was fulfilled this weekend by the folks at City Works Press, publishers of the beautiful and comprehensive new anthology Hunger and Thirst.*

I’ve got a short story in there, so I read along with a handful of other H&T writers at the San Diego City Book Fair on Saturday. When I arrived, editor Nancy Cary handed all of us a sheet of paper that included a seating chart and a minute-by-minute agenda for the reading. If you weren’t sure what to do after Sydney left the podium, you needed only to check your info sheet.

Combine this with a couple of warm hugs from my Commuters editors, Jim and Kelly, and a cozy room at the Sheraton where AK and I watched cable and ate chocolate while it rained outside, and I felt thoroughly nurtured and loved. That’s something I don’t always feel during the driftier moments of my writing/working life.

Asking everyone to be my mom could sound really diva-ish, like I want them to cut all the crusts off my bread and take the blue M&Ms out of the bowl, but the thing is: I’m a really good daughter. I’m responsible and grateful and undemanding**, and I’ll totally uphold my half of the bargain. Because my real mom raised me right.

And I think I’ve been missing her lately. I cried almost embarrassingly hard yesterday at the funeral of AK’s coworker’s husband, especially during the speech his 19-year-old daughter gave. And while he really did sound like a great guy, isn’t it almost impolite to sob uncontrollably if you never met the person? I mean, isn’t it sort of obvious that you’re just bringing your own shit to someone else’s special day?

I need to just rent some sad movies or something.

*It includes a bunch of yummy-sounding recipes. What better Christmas present than a homemade treat and a matching anthology that includes instructions on how to make it? I’m just saying.

**Except for 1989-1995 and a brief period in 2002-2003.


Anonymous said…
Actually, I think we all need someone to take the blue M&M's out of the bowl from time to time. It's just a nice thing to do.
Peter Varvel said…
I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting people, even leaders and authority figures, to be nurturing, especially if you respond so positively - and productively - to it.
That's what I prefer to receive, and give, as well. Being able to reassure people has always been a priority for me in my many customer service jobs.
Thanks for the heads up! I look forward to reading your contribution to H & T!
Tracy Lynn said…
It all falls under the heading of Uber Aunt, dude. I aunt pretty much everyone I come across. It is my destiny.
Cheryl said…
J: And I think it's all good as long as you're willing to be a blue-M&M-remover to someone else. Pay it forward and all that.

PV: That's why, for better or worse, you were probably a really good Disneyland character. What could be more mom-like than dealing with some serious behind-the-scenes shit but making it all seem okay for the kids?

TL: I like this aunt-as-verb thing.
Ms. Q said…
If you want a "good cry" as my grandmother calls it, try Step-Mom. There is no way Julia Roberts can replace Susan Sarandon, even if she does hire a male model to pretend to be her step-daughter's boyfriend.

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