When I was a young kid, I’d come home from school each day and watch a little television. The options were sparse in those days. You basically had 6 channels. One ran reruns of classic shows like "The Brady Bunch", "I Love Lucy", "Happy Days" and "Leave it to Beaver" in that after school time slot. That was the channel we usually ended up on.
Those were shows with these idealistic families and these mothers who always looked perfect and always knew what to say and how to fix a situation. Carol Brady, Lucy, Mrs. Cunningham and June Cleaver were always wearing dresses that clung tightly in the middle and flowed perfectly without a wrinkle. High heeled shoes, a string of pearls around the neck and a perfect bun or bouffant or flip or whatever the appropriate hairstyle of time was to compliment the ensemble.
With the exception of Lucy and her whiny, carefree, scatterbrained, comedic character, the other moms were the moms every kid wanted to have and every grown up woman wanted to be.
They were problem solvers. Their kids came to them for advice and they could dole out just the right solution and sometimes they did it in a way that wasn’t obvious, leaving the impression that it wasn’t mom who came up with the answer, but the kid himself. Great confidence booster.
They were smart. They knew how to work a situation to their advantage. When something needed to be done, they could slyly make the man of the house think it was his idea. It was a win-win.
They seemed to have it together all the time. The house was always spotless. A home cooked dinner was always on the table and the family ate together for each meal (although Mrs. Brady did have help from Alice).
Yes, I know these are fictional characters. Even so, what’s wrong with trying to emulate them a little? They represented the ideal mother. Why wouldn’t you want to be that?
I’m not even close to being June Cleaver. I can’t remember the last time I wore a dress, heels and pearls, but it sure wasn’t while I was cooking a pot roast and polishing silver. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I felt all my housework was complete and I could justify sitting on the sofa and reading a magazine as she often did on the show. She had a ton of patience no matter what mischief the Beav got into. I admit there’s been a time or two in my mothering days when I’ve stepped back and thought to myself, “What would June Cleaver have done in this situation?”
But also, let’s look at what June didn’t have to do. She wasn’t shuffling kids to and from school or to sports practices. They were walking to school. I’m not even sure if June had her own car. She had stuff to deal with, but put her in 2013 when the television topics might be much different – like maybe Wally’s girlfriend was pregnant and didn’t know if he was the daddy or Eddie Haskell almost overdosed on pills to battle the depression of being bullied after coming out as a bisexual or the Beav dropped out of school and was dealing drugs. I don’t know that June could have hacked it in our age or in the television sitcom world of today.
Still, when I find myself baking brownies for an after school snack, I feel like there’s a little bit of June in me — even if I’m in sweats and an old t-shirt rather than heels and pearls, and the brownies were made from a box mix instead of from scratch. So, maybe a little bit of her has carried over to the 21st century in a different form.