for release October 11, 2002
by Melodie Davis
Editor's Note: This column is written by Melodie Davis' oldest daughter, Michelle, a senior English major.
The Revenge of the Columnist's Daughter
By Michelle D. Davis
For those of you who have been reading this column for any length of time, you probably feel like you know Melodie's daughters pretty well. After all, we are the guinea pigs and inspiration for many of her weekly observations. You've read about our milestones, our tantrums, our driving adventures and most recently, all things college-related. But how about a daughter's perspective on what it's like to have Melodie for a mom? One of the women who works with Mom recently challenged one of us to give everyone the inside scoop.
I once told my mother, "You know, that was pretty cheeky of you to start writing columns and books of parenting advice when your own daughters were just babies. I mean, you didn't know how we would turn out." She smiled in that weird, indulgent, "listen-while-I-correct-you" way of hers and said, "I don't try to tell people how to raise their kids. I just share my experiences with them."
As Mom's oldest, I usually wind up with a lot of the "firsts." So even though she tries to give my sisters an equal share of the limelight, I've provided my mother with years of "my daughter is doing this--oh no they're growing up so fast" material. Personally, I love the attention, and it's amusing to see what ends up in a column. Mom has this persistent habit of latching on to an anecdote or story one of us girls tells, and weeks after we've forgotten about it, it winds up in Another Way, along with a statement or observation which we never before considered. It's like one-step-removed parenting, except that sometimes it can have a much stronger impact if we read it in the newspaper, rather than hearing it directly-and informally-from Mom or Dad themselves.
In one of her early books, Working Mothering, and Other Minor Dilemmas, Mom discussed the myth of the superwoman and how she now knew it was impossible to try to be one. From my vantage point, I feel that whether or not she was striving for it, she's the most qualified superwoman I know. She has two jobs, and with our dad raised three girls (with the help of our invaluable babysitter, Linda Payne), is an active member of our church, and has been happily married to my dad for 26 years. She still finds time to visit my dad's elderly aunts, and occasionally bring them home-baked cookies or cake (she's an excellent cook).
Aside from what goes into her columns, I've come to appreciate some of the other perks that come with having a writer for a mom. In school, I never had to worry about who was going to edit my papers-Mom was always ready with a red pen and an impartial word. When, after years of fuming and rebelling against English class, I decided I loved writing and wanted to major in English, I didn't have to work to get my parents to accept my choice.
Lest you think this is all bouquets, I promised to give you the inside scoop. One of her faults is frequently just skimming the headlines in the daily newspaper, and then misinterpreting a story. (I bet she wouldn't like Another Way readers to just read the headlines-which the newspaper usually makes up anyway.) She doesn't finish her sentences until we glare at her and she muddles around until she blurts out a few words but maybe going in a totally new direction with her thought. She frequently starts jokes and can't remember the punch line: midway through, she gets this blank look and then, knowing that I'm fuming that she's done it again, comes toward me with a hug and a pitiful look on her face begging my forgiveness. She can leave chocolate alone but she has this bingeing thing about sweet red licorice.
But I can forgive her all this because through her writing, she has given me this most valuable gift: a wealth of advice, written down and preserved, either in books, newspapers, or Another Way archives, describing how and with what values I was raised. Sometimes a person grows up wishing they could fix the mistakes their parents made when it is time to raise their own children. I'm fortunate that I can say that when the time comes, I want to raise my children exactly the way my parents did. If I ever need advice, and my parents are far away-or even gone-I can turn to these books. Maybe I'll laugh, and maybe I'll cry, but no matter what, I know I will thank God for the family with which I was blessed. Until then, I'll enjoy being a WK (Writer's Kid) and will do my best to supply my mom with many more years of column ideas. As she would probably be happy to note, I'm not done growing up yet, and she and Dad aren't finished raising me.
For a free copy of Working, Mothering, and Other "Minor" Dilemmas, write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 855 words; end material = 105 words
We would appreciate it if you would include the "Globe Syndicate" bug at the end of the column.
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