Friday, May 16, 2008

Erma - The Original Mommy Blogger

Not many young women today remember Erma Bombeck. She died almost 20 years ago, but back in the day she was a voice in the wilderness for a generation of women.

There always seems to be this myth of "supermom" that refuses to die no matter how much reality pounds on it. The supermom image in the late '70s and '80's got really scary as women were made to believe that they could and should aspire to a high powered career and motherhood and household perfection and perfect marriage. It was a recipe for disaster.

I'm sure that some will jump in and say, "I did it!", but my question would be "Why would you want to?" During those years I saw my fair share of nervous breakdowns, including my own. (We'll talk alot about that in the future).

Erma was a member of my mother's generation and she was the voice in the wilderness, the one who felt secure enough and safe enough to say, "This is all a crock. My kids aren't perfect. My house is mess. My relationships are flawed, and that's the reality of life." All this was done with humor and it struck a chord with women everywhere who were struggling to keep up with unrealistic expectations.

Humor was the vehicle that made it all work. Humor took the edge off and I never found her to be unkind or hurtful. There's a fine line we walk when writing about our family and our friends. It's out there for everyone to see and read. Our writings must be mentally edited to avoid hurting people or damaging relationships. I cringed at reading a blog once where a woman dragged her family over the coals daily, dishing on her "aspy-crazy" (Asburger's symdrome) kids and manic-depressive husband. Did she need an outlet and a support group? Absolutely. But not a blog.

Can you imagine what would fly off keyboards if we were all assured it would be anonymous? PHEW! But the challenge lies in saying those same things through a lens of understanding and kindness. That's a very difficult exercise. When successful it opens a dialogue in which we can all examine the challenges that face us. Our experiences are shared. Our solutions should be shared. We should not be alone in what Sark calls "Transformation Soup."


Sand Flat Farm said...

I remember Erma - loved her and actually read one of her books. (did she have more than one?) Much wisdom there that was not always the popular mainstream back in her day, huh. But I always wanted to yell, "YOU GO GIRL!" I was never into Super-mom, and my house was messy, and my kids were messy, but I was fortunate enough to stay home with them growing up and loved every single minute! Vickie

Chris said...

I also remember Erma! My mother used to crack up over her column. I understand it!*Ü*

I really enjoy reading your blog!

Lil_Birdie said...

I've heard of Erma but never read her stuff (think it was before my daughter was born )will have to look it up .

My family isn't perfect and my house isn't spotless but I do and did try to keep it as manageable as possible (I worked from home when my daughter was little and my house was the house all the neighbors hung out at )

I managed by trying to keep things as simple and practicle as possible . She's a teen now so things are much easier .

Oh and the hubby was the hardest to housebreak =P (much humor and cleaning out clutter does make things much easier )

Love your blog :)

IowaCowgirl said...

I feel a special bound with Erma since I wrote the review (published in Library Journal) for her last book.

She was a wonderful woman who "walked the walk, not just talked the talk", in that she could have pushed her celebrity status to gain a transplant, but would not do that, hence dying while others in line before her could get their transplants!

Janet said...

I remember Erma; wasn't one of her books "The Grass Always Grows Greener Over the Septic Tank"? Somehow I always think of her when I think of all the old Doris Day movies that we saw at the Drive-in. Ahhh...nostalgia!


Beverly said...

My father was a huge Erma fan. He loved reading her column, and he had all of her books. She was an amazing lady. She had a wonderful outlook and approach to life.

Lucy said...

You have some of the neatest posts and this one is wonderful. And I love Yanni. I usually turn the music off of blogs because for most of it I can't read and listen at the same time. But yours is really done well with music. Thanks. And yup....Erma Bombeck was a one of a kind person. She lived here in Phoenix so we'd hear about her on a local level that ws always interesting. I wonder if her husband ever got married again. Hmmmmm...........

Suzanne said...

Vickie - She had quite a few books and a newspaper column. I stayed home with my kids also and did what we needed to do in order to afford to do that.

Chris - Thanks for visiting. Please return. Erma was very funny. My mom loved her too.

Lil-Birdie - I agree that life is much easier if I try to keep things organized and the paper clutter to a minimum. I'm so glad you visit with me here. You are one of my loyal readers!

Iowa Cowgirl - That is amazing! She was really down to earth and I bet she was a terrific friend. Garrison Keillor had nothing but really wonderful things to say about her. As a writer yourself you can appreciate the effort that went into her Work. Keillor talked about her finely crafted sentences. That just doesn't happen by itself.

Janet - That was one of her books and actually that's true! When it gets hotter and drier I'll take pictures to prove it. YES...we have a septic tank.

Beverly, How wonderful to hear that your father was a fan. I didn't know that men read her stuff, but that's very cool to know.

Lucy - Thanks so much. I try to match the music for the day with the subject matter. Let me tell you how this began. Many years ago a friend and I agreed that there's been a song written for any subject you can think of. I'm out to prove it's true. I love Yanni! His music is just very relaxing. I have found some great new music just by listening to playlist's on other peoples blogs, so that's a good thing.

lifeinredshoes said...

Well said. This is why I read your blog first!I loved Erma, so did my Mom. Good decision about that wallpaper! Did you check out the Cath Kidston site?

Robyn said...

Erma sounds wonderful!Career, motherhood, household perfection and perfect marriage? I gave it my best for a while but am far happier creating my art whilst letting a few dust bunnies roam about my home. I don't think my marriage has suffered for it either. As you say, why would we want to be so perfect? At what cost.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

My mother was just referring to an old Erma Bombeck article that she had save eons ago.

Your response to those who say that they can "do it all" impressed me tons. I'll never forget it.

Jeanne said...

I loved reading your Irma post... She was a trip and I loved everything she wrote. Sometimes it was a perfect answer, with humor at all times.

Backyard Neighbor, Jeannetq

Rue said...

Hi Suzanne :)

Has it relly been 20 years?? I feel old. Not that I didn't already when I was sitting in Hollister ... yikes!

It's so true what you wrote about blogging. I always think... should I write that? I read a story recently that I wouldn't have posted for all the tea in China, but ah well, it's not my place to say anything and I just moved on.

Btw, I didn't know what that plant in my front yard was. I thought it was lambs ear. Is that the same thing?

Oh and you weren't offended by my farmer brown story were you? Talk about a person I can't tell the whole story about! He's odd, but not so much because he's farming in an 8x10 yard LOL

Off to read your other post...