Leave It To Beaver was one of my favorite shows growing up. It came on every afternoon at 3:30 and I'd park my tired elementary school self in front of the tube with my snack and devour them both as soon as I got home pretty much every single day. I don't know what it was that drew me to the show, maybe the boys intriqued me since I didn't have brothers or maybe the black and whiteness of it all caught my kodachrome eye, but mostly I think it was the mom.
As a young girl I never doubted I would grow up and have my own family. My mom has a book she kept for me detailing each of my school years and at each grade there was a blank to fill in about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always put "Mom" in the blank. I think I had a great mom and I'm sure a lot of my eagerness to birth and raise children came from the example she gave.
And, of course, there was June Cleaver.
June Cleaver was the epitome of Mom to me. She was so kind, she never yelled, and even when Beaver did something that my mom would have hit the roof over, she kept her cool and made sure those boys were well fed and had warm cookies to make them feel better. Oh, and she was soooo well-dressed. She wore heels and pearls and perfectly starched dresses even while serving an big early breakfast to her family. I was going to be June Cleaver all right. Right down to perfect lipstick.
My first clue that I would never be June was when I first moved in with the husband and didn't yet have a job. The then-boyfriend (something else June would never do) would awaken at 5:30 to prepare for work and the very first day it occured to me that it would be nice of me to wake up also and cook a healthy breakfast and possibly a sack lunch. I dreamt I was doing it, but I couldn't drag myself out of bed at that hour so it never happened (still hasn't happened). I started buying his favorite flavor of Pop-tarts and leaving them on the counter before I went to bed at night. Now I just buy the Pop-tarts.
You know another way I know I am not June Cleaver? Well, for one thing, I am still in my pajamas today and it's after noon. I do usually dress each morning, and before eight at that, but it's definitely not in a fancy dress. I doubt June would ever have donned jean shorts and an old stretched out tank top EVER. My pearls remain in the safe where I parked them when I got them two years ago. I don't own even one single pair of heels, and I haven't ironed in thirteen years. No joke.
This weekend, though, just sealed the deal on my anti-Cleaverness.
The husband is having a hard time at work these days. I won't get into details, moslty because I don't understand them, but basically, he and the boss have a huge personality clash and there was some sort of meeting on Friday where the boss and his pets got together and slammed the husband, accused him of not being able to do his job, and kinda sorta demoted him. If you call taking all the responsiblities that weren't his to begin with demoting him. The husband was a mess on Friday. We went to a ball game and he didn't speak a word to anyone. He was mean to the kids. He spent a lot of time locked in his study with his head hung in his hands. I found my inner June and patted his back, baked him a pie, and listened. And listened and listened.
And on Saturday, I listened, and listened, and listened. I even listened while West Virginia was being thumped by East Carolina on ESPN in my living room. I mean, even the kids know not to bother Mommy when the Mountaineers are on.
Yesterday, though, when I saw him lying on the couch wearing his best pitiful look while I picked up another glass, another beer can, four pairs of his shoes and every toy we've ever bought, I didn't feel very Junelike. Well, maybe June, as in June Carter Cash and I wanted to run over there and smack him senseless and tell him to snap the hell out of it and it's a freaking job! Get a new one if you're not happy. Do you not see me working my ass off for an unappreciative company without even a weekend to take a break from it? I haven't slept in sixteen months, man! Get over yourself, dude!
(I didn't say that, by the way. I am not that mean).
Somehow I don't think June would have ripped Ward a new one like that.
It's official. I am not June Cleaver.
I am not Donna Reed.
Shoot, I don't think I could even be Marge Simpson at this rate.
But you know what? I'm okay with that. I'm just me. I try to be a good mother. I try to be a good wife. Sometimes it's easier than others. Sometimes shit happens. I figure if my husband wanted a June Cleaver wife he would have found himself one. He likes his pop-tarts. At least he says he does. My kids know they are loved even if they have to go out wearing unironed shirts. Sure, they get yelled at sometimes, but they're no Wally and Beav themselves.
I still love June Cleaver. I'm just glad I didn't turn out like her.
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