Ways my Mother Wronged Me

If I would have been taken seriously, I would have answered the question “Why do you want to be a historian?” on the application to graduate school: “because of the American Girl dolls.” Instead, I BSed my way through the application (and my PhD program, for that matter) with some nonsense or other about changing the future by knowing the past. But in all honesty, my love of history is a direct result of my time with Felicity, Kirsten, Samantha, Molly (and later Addie). You see, when I was about that age when you start noticing the injustice of your friends’ toy collections, I told my mother that what I wanted more than anything else was a ridiculously-priced doll named Samantha. Of all the AGD’s on the market at that time, Sam was by far the most glamorous. She was rich, fancy, and had the beautiful soft curls that I was certain I, too, would have when I was all grown-up. My mom agreed that I could have an AGD for my b-day, but before I chose Samantha for her looks and accessories, she said I had to read Book 1 for each of the characters. I had to get to know the personalities of the dolls before making this choice. Can you believe the nerve? Begrudgingly I slogged my way through the books, and to my horror, upon completion, had fallen in love with Felicity, a brave Patriot during the American Revolution. And I have never regretted this choice (painting her nails a bright red that could never be removed, yes). While I still wish my mom had been more like Amanda’s mom and gotten me ALL the $100+ dolls, I ended up getting my masters in early American History. So maybe my mom had been in to something. Go figure…

When I was a kid the 2 more important rules in our house were: NO SAND! And NO GLITTER! In fact, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that there are people who sit directly in the sand at the beach, and believe-it-or-not, enjoy it! But my mom wasn’t a complete monster: she wasn’t going to deprive us entirely of a sandbox experience because of her own phobia. No. Instead, we had a bean box. A giant tub full of dried beans and lentils and beach toys…

When I was little and my brother and I embarked on that right of passage of childhood, running a lemonade stand, unlike other children who do so, we came out the other side in debt. You see, from some reason my mom thought it was important to teach her 4 and 7-year-olds some good business sense. So while she graciously helped us acquire the supplies we needed, she explained that after all was said and done, we would need to pay her back for the lemonade. For the use of her folding table. And, I imagine, for her sweat and tears. So, in the end, I was actually further away from buying the Barbie dream house which have been the whole impetus for the endeavor to begin with. But what I did gain was a certainty that business was not for me. And so, when I passed all the Wharton students schmoozing and day-drinking everyday in grad school, as I lugged my 50 lb backpack to the history building, dark circles under my eyes from the 600 pages I had stayed up all night to read, I would laugh at them. Because if my mom had taught me anything, it was that while life might be a slog, at the end of the day, which of us would owe UPenn hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Published by imworriedmytherapisthatesme

I'm a history-PhD-turned-stay-at-home-mom of three. When I'm not microwaving Trader Joe's meals for my kids, breaking up fights and wiping butts, I like to paint and write. To cope with the endless hours I'm spending with my son doing virtual school, I've abandoned my gouache paints for the more portable, less messy tried but true, paper and ink. While he learns to read to 20 floating heads on his screen, I sit on a tiny chair, at a tiny table pretending to be a productive adult.

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