by Amy Simon

I suffer. From PMS. Perfect Mother Syndrome. Very common, very textbook very classic. But how could you blame me? I was raised on Donna Reed. Let’s tawk TV Moms. Donna Reed was always cheerful, impeccably dressed and surrounded by cleanliness, calm and order. Happily subservient, seemingly content and fulfilled, she vacuumed in high heels and pearls. Harriet Nelson from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet is another example of cheerful subservience in pearls. Jane Wyatt played the lovely Mrs. Anderson from Father Knows Best, smilingly elegant in heels. And of course who could ever forget Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver, mother of The Beaver on Leave It To Beaver. Then there was Julia. Remember Diahann Carroll as Julia? She was one of the first single working mothers on television and was very controversial. She was a nurse raising her son. And she was black. She always looked absolutely beautiful, always had it together and always wore makeup. I hate that. Then there’s the always-effervescent Florence Henderson as Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch - mother of six, always looked great and again - always smiling even though her husband was gay. Of course the reason she smiled all the time is because she had a housekeeper - Alice! Then there was Shirley Jones as Shirley Partridge from The Partridge Family - again one of the first single working mothers on television where she proved you CAN have it all by successfully combining motherhood and career by raising her family while on tour. She had a nice bus. There wasn’t a realistic TV mom until my absolute favorite - Roseanne. I will always love her for having the guts to do that show and show how it really is. So there you have it. The TV moms I grew up with. Which brings us to my favorite current TV moms: Jane Kaczmarek as Lois from Malcolm In The Middle is an EXTREMELY accurate and realistic portrayal of a truly crazy mother. And finally, she’s been off TV for a while but her portrayal of the penultimate modern mother will not easily be forgotten – Sharon Osbourne.

Well, I’m not raising my girls on Donna Reed, OR Sharon Ozbourne. Although I do borrow a little from each. I tell my girls the truth! No Superman, no Supermom. I tell them YES! You can be an astronaut - sure! Talk to Dr. Sally Ride – first American Female Astronaut in space – talk to Eileen Collins – first Female Shuttle Commander – go ahead and go to the moon! Just don’t go to God Forbid – Afghanistan, or Cuba or South America and don’t even get me STARTED on the Far East. There are still lots of places where you don’t wanna be a woman. Like India. They still have dowry’s in Delhi and if you’re a Hindu widow in India, you’re blamed for your husband’s death. Ya can’t remarry, ya can’t inherit. You’re basically cast out, and end up either begging or working for like ten bucks a month - a cup of rice. Nice. In Nigeria, Amina Lawall - this poor woman was part of an Islamic sect, had sex with her ex, was arrested for having a baby out of wedlock, and the Nigerian Supreme Court upheld the death penalty and as soon as she weaned her baby, they were gonna bury her up to her neck stone her to death! Then Amnesty International and the Internet got in it and they freed her. Yea. Ahhh civilization. Well, as an American, lucky me! I get to raise my girls on Hannah Montana, Kim Possible and Zoey 101! Finally, stories with female protagonists who turn out to be the heroes and DON’T go off with the guy! And then there’s always Pocahontas, in which like most of the Disney stories and fairy tales, the mother IS dead and I get to explain that America was really settled by a bunch of violent white male gun toting imperialists. Opens up a whole dialogue on imperialism and racism and assassination and Martin Luther King Day. How do you talk to your kids about the holocaust and September 11th and Darfur?

I’ll tell ya a secret. I yearn. For the fifties. Not the REAL fifties, where many Moms were repressed, trapped, sedated, pill popping alcoholics in denial. Not the my own mother stayed home because she had no choices and was miserable fifties. Not the Hillary Clinton applied to NASA and was rejected just because she was a woman fifties. No no no. The Fake Fifties. The Donna Reed fifties when men and women knew their places. The men went off to work and the women stayed home. They hung out with the other Moms. They drank coffee, smoked cigarettes and had cocktails. At least that’s how it was when I was a kid growing up in Queens, New York in the old days. Ahhh, the old days. I remember the old days. So simple then. What were there seven, maybe eight channels on the TV and no one thought twice about jumping in a convertible in the summer - no car seat no seatbelt no sunscreen. An open beer and a lit cigarette. Sounds great doesn’t it? If you did that today you’d get arrested for child endangerment and I’d be the first one to call! Oh the good old days when you didn’t need Mommy and Me’s and playdates. You just HAD that stuff there, built-in. All the kids played outside together and all the Moms sat around coffee klotching and smoking. Boy does that sound good. I love Coffee klotches. And I miss smoking. No one coffee klotches here. We’re way too busy to coffee klotch. Most of the Moms I know have no time and when they do, they drink water and go to the gym. Oh how I yearn! To just tell my kids to outside and play. Ha! Sure just go outside and play and get kidnapped, drugged, abused, mugged. It’s just so different. They need so much more supervision. There’s danger everywhere. Everything is dangerous! There’s Elizabeth Smart and Danielle Van Dam. Being outside unsupervised. Nannie cams. Porn on the Internet. Pedophiles in the neighborhood, the web - and the church; chemicals, sugar, too much sun. Toxic tap water, indoor air quality in the classroom. Too much TV. We are soooooo enlightened! Ignorance is bliss. So I yearn. For innocence and ignorance and rainbows and lollipops.