Confessions of a bad mom

Last week, one of the morning TV shows had the authors of a book about confessions of bad moms.  You know, the kind who admit they buy cupcakes at Wal*mart, then send them to school in a different box like they actually baked them?  Some of the stories they told about made me laugh, but there were also a lot of the stories that left me saying, “What’s funny about that?  I did it all the time!”

Any of you who are mothers know that the goal of raising kids is to survive.  If you actually turn them into productive, happy citizens, that’s just icing on the…uh, cupcake.  One of my favorite authors was Erma Bombeck.  Even before I was a mother, her articles used to leave me rolling in the floor.  In the days of Donna Reed with her neatly ironed apron and pearls, Erma was labelling the cobwebs in her children’s rooms as “Science Fair projects.”  When Beaver’s mom was turning out perfect meals like a Stepford wife, Erma was painting a bulls-eye in the bowl of her toilet so her boys wouldn’t pee all over the bathroom.

The great thing about her writing is that it wasn’t about the ideal suburban household, but rather the chaotic, realistic, carnival fun house most families live in.  And she showed how everything comes out when you added plenty of love, laughter, and old-fashioned cynicism.  Even when she was dying of cancer, she shared her adventures through it with gentle humor and gallantry .

The main reason I mention her is that Erma is one of my all-time writing models.  She didn’t write fiction, but her imagination combined with love of her family evoked the greatest emotions.  With a simple, spare style of writing, in just a few words she could brag on her kids, poke fun at society’s foibles, and focus the spotlight on injustices in America.  When she died, we lost a great writer…maybe not one like Steinbeck or Hemmingway, but a writer who will remain in my heart a longer time than those two gentlemen.

Yes,and  maybe if I’m patient, I’ll someday grow up to be just like Erma Bombeck.  A writer with heart and joy.


12 thoughts on “Confessions of a bad mom

  1. Erma wrote a hilarious column once about writing romances — she couldn’t do it because the “s” section was missing from her dictionary. You know all those “s” words that are integral to romance novels: sexy, steamy, sensuous, sighing, striving, sexual, sensual, etc.

    She was a hoot. And probably had way more readers than Hemingway and Steinbeck combined, because she spoke to everyone.

    I loved her.

  2. I loved Erma Bombeck. Some of my favorite books by her are When You Look Like Your Passport Photo It’s Time to go Home, and If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing In
    The Pits?
    She was a wonderful writer. I only can hope that one day my writing will bring as much enjoyment to my readers. Assuming I have any. 😀

  3. Erika, good to have you drop in! Isn’t that what all writers want–to bring enjoyment? I’m sure you will bring many hours of delight to your readers.

  4. At one time, my folks had all of her books. My brother is saving all the books in my dad’s house for me to go through. I’m looking for the Don Blanding poetry and his Pogo the Possum, but maybe I’ll also find Erma’s books.

  5. Erika, welcome to the group! I loved the CHERRIES book too. I always regretted that our local paper didn’t run her column.

  6. Jackie,

    Erma Bombeck was a favorite of mine. For years, if anyone had asked me who I would most like to write like, I would have said Erma.

    I ran into her once in the Scottsdale, AZ mall. She was with Cheryl Tiegs doing a bit for Good Morning America (and now I’m aging myself) the film crew was set up in the ladies department and she (5 ft nothing and 180 lbs) was putting on the same designer outfits being modeled by Cheryl Tiegs (6 ft and 100 lbs soaking wet!) I laughed and laughed. It was just such a funny juxtaposition. She was perhaps the first one to point out how different magazines views of the female form was from reality.

    I think doing a weekly column like Erma or Dave Berry would be the greatest writing gig of all time. Getting syndicated and making a living at it would be wonderful.

    She was genuinely nice. If you saw her at the grocery store, she’d stop and chat with you. What a lady!! spw

  7. Now, I’m totally jealous, Sandee. I would have LOVED to have met Erma. And you know how I am about meeting famous people.

  8. I really miss Erma! She was the kind of rare talent that spoke to everyone. Even today you can read her work and it still applies to today. Did anyone ever read The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank? The title alone will put a smile on your face.


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