Granny Fokker was here

Hey y’all! Did you miss me? Of course you did. Without my fabulousness to rain down upon you, you were all like little parched flowers in a drought, weren’t you? I thought so.

My mother was here last week, and I just never had a private enough moment to blog. God and all his Saints forbid she find out I write this blog. It would scandalize my poor mother. I write about family things and she would faint. The sex posts wouldn’t give her a moments pause, but the family stuff would kill her graveyard dead on the spot.

Anyway, she was a tremendous help while she was here and my daughters were so happy they could have burst. They think Granny Fokker is the greatest thing ever. She always, ALWAYS has time to play with them and paint their faces and read them books and never pulls their hair and thinks they should be able to live on a diet of pumpkin muffins and Pirate’s Booty if they want to. I confess, she is the perfect Granny. Even Spock is thrilled with Granny and chews on Granny’s cheeks as a sign of her love.

Mom and I have a weird relationship. For one thing we are too alike. Neither one of us gives a rat’s ass about being the Alpha of any of our social groups, but we are determined to be the only Bitch Queen in our own house/family. This has caused some tension in the past, much like tornadoes have caused some breezes. The Fokker does not get dominated easily. I seem easy going and I am fairly obliging, but I do not do anything I don’t want to. Period. The end. So when I was a teen and Mom was still trying to be the “boss of my life”, (She was correct in trying, I might add. I was as stump dumb as any other teenager in history.) we’d have these terrible fights. It was Clash of the Titians.

Our differences made it worse. She was emotionally abused, and comes from a cultural milieu that has deeply entrenched misogyny, so she learned that to be “good” she must always put her needs last and she was inherently worthless because of her vagina. She also learned she must manipulate people for survival, and that she needed to be passive aggressive to do this. All the women in her family are like that, so she also came to believe any statement, made about anything under the sun, might be a passive aggressive insult to her. Often, it was. Appalachia is a egalitarian society, which is nice on paper but in practice means that everyone is subjected to leveling techniques. Leveling techniques are social behaviors, like jokes and ridicule and gossip, that prevent the target from achieving a higher station than their peers.  This is done, of course, by people in the group with the lowest self-esteem, and who have a vested interest in keeping you from getting “uppity”. So my mom has been a target of several of her siblings who are total losers and really resent she isn’t one too. The normal siblings all love her and don’t do that. Long story not short, it’s left mom with some issues.

But I don’t have any of those issues. You know why? Because she lavished my ass with love and attention when I was a kid. Until I was 6 or 7, and my baby brother was born, I was the leading light in my mom’s universe because she thought the sun shone out of my ass. I was the smartest, the pretties, the best child in the history of space and time. Also, pretty is as pretty does so I was rewarded for acts of kindness, punished for unkindness, and have wound up with very strong moral compass and an obsession with social justice.

There is the unfortunate fact that mom started trying to “level” me when I started puberty so I would be a “good” woman. Seriously, this is how misogyny is perpetuated. Women trying to convince other women they are less valuable because that’s what they were taught. But it was too late for me. I’d had too many hugs as a child, and too much awareness of my inherent human value to displace it now. I could only see myself as the equal of men. I wasn’t vain. I didn’t think I was all that and a pack of crackers. But equal in human value? Equal to those who were born with a penis? Yes. I did think of myself as equal. This bewildered my poor mother. She was frantic with the thought that my ridiculous inability to humble myself before men by batting my eyelashes and acting mentally deficient would doom me to be an old maid. She was so grateful when I married Sweet Babou, and so confused when he told her that he was a feminist too. A man thinking of women as equals! Imagine that!

Although my dad insists he thinks of my mom as an equal because her “let” her work. Not quite sure you’ve grasped the point there, dad. But I love you for the effort.

Anyway, by giving me the love she didn’t get as a kid, mom inadvertently raised me to be a liberal feminist stay-at-home mom who teaches Sunday School. She is Republican. She’s not quite sure where she went wrong.

I had a point to all this. I think. Hmmmm … I think I was going to post about how my mom and I still fight, but are also super-close and call each other at least once a day. Or maybe I was going to post about the fact she gave me the greatest complement of my life when she told me, out of the blue, that she thought I was a wonderful mother to the girls. Made me cry, y’all. Then she told me that the shirt I was wearing made me look awful. WTF? Leave a tender moment alone mom!

Yep. My relationship with my mother is complex. But it is worth it.

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About Betty Fokker

I'm a stay-at-home feminist mom.
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21 Responses to Granny Fokker was here

  1. Betty Angel says:

    *parched, so parched* What is this I spy? Is it an Oasis? Yep. Oasis Fokker… Glad you’re back.

  2. MaineBetty says:

    It really is such a complex relationship, isn’t it?
    I see a lot of things in common with my relationship with my mom, mostly in the passive-aggressive approach to getting what you want. It can be … heck … to deal with someone who wants her own way all the time, but isn’t permitted to tell you outright what that is! Not to mention that she isn’t going to get it.

    Her family is not from Appalachia, but her mom’s family was Norwegian. So things are fine. How are you? Fine. I notice you have lost your legs. Yes, I’m fine. Your daughter was born with a cleft palate: she’ll be fine. Sorry I forgot your birthday. It’s… fine. These are the people that once ran all over Europe hacking up people for fun and profit, so maybe like Vulcans and logic, to subvert their destructive tendencies, they adopted the philosophy of ‘fine.’ But when things are not fine, look out!

    Well, I feel better. And that was only a mini rant. You must feel great lots of the time!

    I love how you can see your mom from so many perspectives, as a human being as well as your mom. Thanks for the post.

    • Betty Fokker says:

      Seeing my mom as a person not a “mother” took a long time. And a realization that sometime, just sometimes, it’s not about me. Which is still a weird concept. I’d never realized that Norwegians and Vulcans were kindred spirits, but now it totally makes sense. There blood was green because they ate too much lutefisk.

      • MaineBetty says:

        Fortunately, I missed the lutefisk, and just got to enjoy the leftsa (sic?) and salmon. But I can happily eat pickled herring for breakfast, so the gene is definately there.

      • Betty Fokker says:

        Considering the seasons in Maine are winter, July & August it’s good you have the genes of a cold-adapted people :0)

  3. Sure Thing says:

    Ah. Mothers, can’t live with them, can’t send ‘em to Feminism school.

    • Betty Fokker says:

      Well, I’ve been trying. Mom told Dad he could bring her a cup of coffee sometimes, instead of waiting for her to bring it to him. He looked startled by the idea, but agreed that he could be the one to bring coffee occasionally. Progress!

  4. Clever Betty says:

    He “let” her work. hehehe typical. Gotta love em, tho.

    I wondered why there was a decided lack of glitter lately. Glad you’re back.

  5. Lora says:

    Without wading into the mire of my own complicated relationship with my mother who struggles to wrest life control from me on a daily basis, I have to say that Spock biting Granny’s cheeks in affection is the most adorable thing I’ve read in eons.

  6. “Leave a tender moment alone mom!”

    LOL! Nice Billy Joel reference there, Fokker. ;)

    I, too, am a lone liberal in a family of Republicans. Although if you stuck me in a roomful of liberals they’d likely rear back in horror at the conservative in their midst. Mostly I let the family’s politics slide off my back but every now and again I must put my foot down (literally, I stomped my foot and shoved something at one family gathering and scared the shit outta my mom… good times) and raise my voice in loud, jarring and unmodulated tones to bring a whiff of sanity to the party. Sigh.

    Anyhoo, I’m happy you had a lovely visit and agree with MaineBetty about being impressed with your ability with perspective, hard won though it may be. :)

    • Betty Fokker says:

      Well, it was either get some perspective (I’ve had a lot of theory and read a lot of books!) or lose the relationship … so I chose perspective. And the occasional Xanex lollipop.

  7. Our mothers must never, ever be allowed to meet. It’s scary how alike they are.

    Now I shall stand here in the Fokker rain and let the fabulousness fall on me.

  8. lunarmom says:

    OH! So glad you are back! And really glad you got to have some good Mom time. In our family we call ourselves Generational Bitches. Her mom, her, me, my daughters, yes it’s a lovely thing to watch, evolution in the making.
    Also, that gnawing on Granny’s cheeks, so lovely to remember, we used to call them Carp Kisses.
    The Return of our Fokker. We are all now free to move about the cabin.
    Julie

  9. Glad you are back, my very dear Fokker. I missed you so much!

    My mom and I were so much alike in many ways, and so opposite in others. I endured leveling behavior my whole life. Once, when I was in college and brought a whole bunch of friends to town (who all visited at my house, because my mom rocked), she actually told me, in front of all these friends, that I “needed” to be dominated by a man. I mean WTF? Because I was so independent and self-willed? Geez. That and several times telling me I was too picky regarding men. But, she also wanted me to be happy, no matter what.

    Well, I never married, but she and I learned to live with it. :) Glad you have a mom you are so involved with, and who you understand so well. (whom? I just cannot seem to remember how that works.)

    Good to see you, dear. Gnaw on the baby’s cheeks for me!

    • Betty Fokker says:

      The most “mature” lesson I ever learned about my mom was that just because she loved me with all her heart didn’t mean that she wasn’t emotionally FUBAR and would know better than to share that shit with me. The love is there, and you work it out. Or run screaming. Depends on the quality of the punch. As for your marital status … what? You are 110 and are never going to date again? There’s no age limit to finding someone who makes you happy. Or even of series of someones who make you happy for a while. Besides, you are married to ME.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I can not even tell you how many times I heard “pretty is as pretty does” when I was growing up. And still. I still hear this from my Momma, and I teach my daughter the same thing. Mommas. Gotta love ‘em.

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