Rubber Chicken Scratchings: Bev’s bubble-headed boy wishes her a happy birthdayShe taught me that staying up with a kid who has a nightmare until that frightened kid falls back to sleep is the best use of your nighttime hours. And on and on and on.
By: Brian Matuszak, Budgeteer News
So it’s my mom’s birthday this weekend, and I have no idea how old she really is.
But that’s probably a good thing. If I did the math, I’m sure I would find that she is older than she looks and, although she might enjoy that compliment, I hate math — so the effort would just make my head hurt.
Plus, I’ve noticed lately that when I’m trying to see how far back my receding hairline dips in those fitting-room funhouse mirrors at Younkers (“receding” is a euphemism for “sayonara” as it turns out), I notice my grandpa Len looking back. It’s starting to freak me out a little.
So, the fact that my mom looks younger than she really is would lead me to the realization that I look waaaaaaay older than I really am, and that’s not a path I want to walk in this weekend’s column.
I’d like to enjoy my Saturday, Dr. Freud.
Instead, let me celebrate my mom! Bev Matuszak has been watching over my siblings and I ever since we each came into this world in the mid- to late-’60s (except for Brad, who showed up in the ’70s … oops). Not only that, but she has taught me more valuable lessons than Obi-Wan Kenobi and my high school math teacher combined. (Now that I think about it, that math teacher could have been a Jedi Knight.
He certainly played enough mind tricks on us. “These aren’t the answers you’re looking for,” Mr. Rosandich would say. “You can go about your trigonometry business. … Or can you?”)
My mom taught me how to balance a checkbook. She taught me how to play cribbage. She taught me the awesome deliciousness of Tater Tot, hamburger and/or tuna hotdish.
She taught me that staying up with a kid who has a nightmare until that frightened kid falls back to sleep is the best use of your nighttime hours. And on and on and on.
Much of these valuable lessons didn’t register with me for years. Even today, one of these “mom-memory bubbles” will float up to the surface of my brain and, if I’m smart enough to grab it and carefully implement it before it pops, I’m always the better for it.
By the way, that last metaphor in no way implies that I’m a bubble brain. I’ll have you know that my brain, which has been in use for nearly 50 years (a third of those constructively!), is my second-most-favorite organ. So I take care of it as carefully as Brett Favre takes care of a football. But I digress....
I remember our elementary school mornings out in the woods of Saginaw. My mom would gently rouse us from our slumber with a tender, loving “WILL YOU KIDS WAKE UP!!! YOU’RE GOING TO MISS THE BUS!!!”
A pan of delicious, chocolate Malt-O-Meal would be waiting for us in the kitchen, and we’d all get a kiss and a hug as we were shuffled out the door. A kiss and a hug that lasted all day, by the way. In fact, I’m still feeling the effects of it now, so that’s a pretty impressive kiss and hug. I think I’ll go share it with my daughter. Be right back.
[Insert musical interlude here. Something mushy like “Wind Beneath My Wings.”]
OK, I’m back.
Mom taught me how to fill out a résumé. She taught me how to plan a birthday party. She taught me about the warm and wonderful familiarity of a cup of coffee in the morning. (Although she preferred the instant coffee Brim — which tasted like lukewarm pond water— this just proved that, even though she’s Mom, she’s also human.)
She taught me how to give up the last piece of pizza for your kid. She taught me that “please” and “thank you” should be the first and the last words out of your mouth on every request. She taught me that a kid will remember a loving home more than a clean house. She taught me how to make change at the bar and operate the till.
She taught me about the importance of being at your kid’s events, because even though the team is getting pounded by Toivola-Meadowlands in nine-man football, or the kid missed the high note entirely in his trombone solo at the Christmas concert, or he’s so far down the bench in the basketball game that he’s in a different ZIP code — none of that matters if the kid glances out to the audience and sees Mom, smiling and beaming at his accomplishments.
Sure, those accomplishments might not mean much to anyone else, but, to Mom, this kid is getting it done. And he gets warm and fuzzy and actually wants to get it done.
Most of all, my mom taught me to have confidence in my children.
I only hope that when my daughter makes bone-headed move after bone-headed move, as her father did years before her, I will exhibit the patience and quiet confidence that my mom showed in me.
I will let my daughter learn from her mistakes, help her discover her true path in life and, when it finally clicks into place for her, as it did for me, I will watch with pride as she develops into an outstanding member of society.
Between my two brothers and my sister, my mom is four-for-four in raising decent human beings who are surrounded by people who love them.
That’s a fantastic batting average.
Love you, Mom. Have a great birthday, and, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I’m coming up next week for dinner. I have a sudden hankering for tuna hotdish.
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February of 2008. He is the co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre and founder of Rubber Chicken Theater. He loves his mom, misses his dad, and strives every day to be the person his parents believe him to be.