I'm really getting into the kooky mom character right now. Reading one in a book at Rob's has gotten me thinking about the whole mildly-but not really-crazy matriarch character. I am finding the sometimes odd enthusiasm our mothers have laughable and adorable rather than something to fear and disparage. Perhaps it is something about the emotionality of women that gives us our quirky moms. Or maybe it is the way we revere our moms that make us look at their actions as humorous rather than scary.
So I've been sitting around contemplating what my level of quirkiness as Mom would be. I'd like to think I'd be the annoying health food mom who rants about the evils of gluten and won't give her kids processed sugar but who will pretend she didn't notice dad giving them chocolate ("gosh, how'd they get so hyper?"). When Rob witnessed a gluten episode in me, I was terrified - it was one of the things my ex said would make me a horrific mother. I tried to address the possibility that he'd be thinking that as well by saying "well, at least it's late at night so it wouldn't be seen by kids." His response was "no, they'd be awake by now - but that's what I'm for. I'd handle them." Beyond the sigh of relief, I've been imagining what would happen if the kids were woken up because mom accidentally got a crouton crumb in her salad.
They would obviously have to know pretty young that gluten makes their mom a nutter. And that she'll go sit in a corner and cry for an hour and then be easy to annoy for the next two days. But the idea that I'd wake the kids in the night gave me this hilarious picture/scene in my head:
(kids wake up and turn on lights. one steps into the hall to hear mom crying.)
kid 1: hey, mom's up
(dad hears kids goes to their room)
dad: hey kiddos, mom accidentally ate some bread. she's gonna be up for a while.
kid 2: can we stay up?
dad: sure, why don't you play some of your video games.
(kids go into living room to play video games (and, of course, in my mind they're playing Super Mario Bros, but I'm sure it'll be some annoying first person 3D-VR-turn-your-stomach-vertigo-machine))
kid 2: I love it when mom gets crazy.
kid 1: that's mean!
kid 2: yeah but we get to stay up and play video games.
So, kooky mom has found her way into some of my writing. The whole super-hero romance novel stuff I've been working on is turning into comedy with the kooky mom as a central character. I may have overdone it and flummoxed the noble genre:
It wasn't that she was crazy. She thought of herself as an eccentric but she had no wealth to back it up. Crystal would allow the muse to take her over. She would go with whatever came to her. Projects were started and abandoned. She liked to tell people that DaVinci never finished a project. Once he figured out how to do something, he was bored with it and moved on. She thought of herself as a modern-day DaVinci. Her kids just thought she was nuts.
So when the day came that she decided she would fight crime as a costumed vigilante, it didn't surprise her kids. As she sewed her new Lycra costume, they hoped that she would tire before it was time to start walking the streets, patrolling for the bad guys as it were. The costume came out a crazy mess. Instead of something black that would allow her to lurk in the shadows like some rich eccentric trained in martial arts, she chose a loud hot pink and plum suit with silver embroidery. The amount of detail was more than a normal person would have gone for. But not Crystal. She was an eccentric, after all.
"What're you going to call yourself, mom?" her youngest had asked. Sasha had blonde hair like father with the pale skin of her mother. It made her look sickly and made people give Crystal a third glance (the second was guaranteed).
Her kids were at the dining room table eating what passed for a macaroni casserole. Being out of tuna and not wanting to feed her kids ground beef, Crystal had used bits of shredded chicken, sour cream and thrown in some peanuts for texture. She told them it was like a dish she had when she was in the peace corps in Africa; a peanut stew, she had said. Her daughter was young and kind enough to still believe her mom's stories about life before children.
Crystal was putting her pink cape on, hoping the silver stars on the back made her look more like a superhero than a third-rate stage magician, though deep down she knew it was nowhere near either of those possibilities and closer to a 4-year old playing dress up.
"I was just thinking of going with Star Crystal," she said. "See how I put the silver stars on the cape and the big purple star on the front of my costume? Stars plus my name, Crystal so Star Crystal."
"Mom," said her middle child, Bruce. "The point of a secret name is to keep your name out of it." He had her mousy brown hair and pale skin. He had a french look to him. At nine years old, he was already Crystal's 'smart little man'.
"Well, what's the point of doing good deeds if you're afraid to say it was you doing them?" she straightened her boots again though they were already straight.
"And you could use a mask, too," he said.
The oldest, Robbie, was staring down into his mac and chicken, stirring it as if the repeated turns would make it into a palatable meal. He had hit fifteen with as much emo force as could be mustered. His hair slipped into his eyes so often the only way the boy could see the world was if he was looking downwards.
"I've been researching what you're doing on the web," Bruce said, going into his 'lecture mode' form of speech. "There are other people who do it and they have groups online you can join. They call themselves 'reals' to distinguish themselves from comic book characters."
Bruce had been hoping that telling his mom that it had been done before would dash her interest in the whole crime-fighter thing. He was half expecting her to toss off her cape in a huff and go find a new project. What he said wasn't phasing her. This was bad. This meant that she had more in mind than patrolling the streets. She wasn't enough steps into her crazy scheme to be done playing with it.
"It turns out it is hard to catch people in the act of committing crimes," he said. He was determined to make this boring and normal for her. "The 'reals' wind up doing charity work in their costumes because there is no crime to fight like there are in the funny-books."
-- Excerpt from the diary of Star Crystal, dated 3-9-2009.