Erma Bombeck had a major influence on me as a writer. As a child, I loved her columns for her ability to find humor about the unpleasantness of life that we all think about, but don’t know how to express.
As a grown up, I appreciate her insights and her ability to find humor where others don’t see it. As a tween, I was cutting out her columns and hanging them on my wall in my room while all my friends were hanging boy band posters on their walls.
To this day I think she was a very funny lady and a gifted writer. For three decades, she celebrated the extraordinary in the ordinary and chronicled life’s absurdities in a syndicated column carried by 700 newspapers prior to her death of kidney disease in 1996.
Since this weekend is Mother’s Day I was doing some research to write a column about Mother’s Day when I came across this column of Erma’s that had been published in 1974.
I thought it was so good that I just had to use it as is. I found it more fitting than anything I could write and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks, Erma. I miss you!
When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of “overtime” when an angel appeared and said, “Your doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”
And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic; Have 180 moveable parts, all replaceable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that disappears when she stands up; a kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair; and six pairs of hands.”
The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands...no way.”
“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”
“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.
The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t, but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”
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“Lord,” said the angel, touching his sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow...”
“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. I already have one who heals herself when she is sick...can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger, and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”
The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.
“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”
“Can it think?”
“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.
Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You, You were trying to push too much into this model.”
“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”
“What’s it for?”
“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride.”
“You are a genius,” said the angel.
The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there,” He said.