To my blog readers: I know you are accustomed to having me blog on travel-related items. However, given that Mother’s Day is approaching, I am going to go off the rails and write about one of the greatest mothers that ever lived. It’s not Mary, it’s not Mother Teresa and it’s not Shaft (who some will argue is one of the “baddest” mothers around). Rather, it is someone who always stuck to her guns and parented with her heart……. JOAN CRAWFORD.
Unless you live under a rock or grew up in a sheltered home-school environment, you have probably seen or are familiar with the movie, Mommie Dearest. This movie was based on the book written by Joan Crawford’s oldest adopted daughter, Christina. It chronicles Christina’s experiences growing up as one of Ms. Crawford’s adopted children.
Most everyone who sees the movie comments about how Joan Crawford was a lousy mother. To be honest, I have seen the movie numerous times and I just don’t get that. I saw a loving woman who chose to adopt two children and give them opportunities they otherwise may not have received.
Let’s look at some of daughter Christina’s nit-picky complaints.
“NO WIRE HANGERS EVER!” This is probably one of the most popular phrases from the movie. It refers to the scene in which Ms. Crawford goes ballistic when she finds a piece of expensive clothing on a wire hanger, rather than the nice, SAFE hangars she provided. No wire hangers? Damn right! Those things are dangerous weapons, especially in the hands of a child. They can poke out eyes, tear at skin and were the preferred method of a certain procedure before Roe vs Wade came along. I totally get it. She wants to protect her daughter from any potential accidents. She provided her daughter with plenty of safe, padded hangers for those fancy clothes. Her refusal to allow wire hangers shows that she feels the safety of her child is paramount. Of course she got upset – she wants what is best for her child. Christina’s punishment (because misbehavior typically has consequences) was to scrub the bathroom floor. Poor Christina. Maybe you would have preferred to mow the lawn with tweezers?
“I WILL ALWAYS BEAT YOU” – This does not refer to the hanger incident, but rather when Ms. Crawford beat her daughter in a swimming race. Excuse me, Christina – do you expect your Mom to LET you win? She played by the rules and she won. She didn’t cheat and she didn’t slow down so you could feel victorious. She gave you a valuable life lesson and wanted to CHALLENGE you. You could make an effort to prove her wrong and show her that you have a drive for success. But, apparently writing a mean book is more your speed.
KEEP ONE GIFT – In one scene, Christina was given a birthday party that would put any modern-day Hollywood kid party to shame. There were unending amounts of food and activities for the kids. Christina was the beneficiary of a pile of gifts. Ms. Crawford decides that she can keep one gift (of Christina’s choosing) and the rest would go to an orphanage. Apparently, this is viewed as a cruel thing to do. Imagine poor Christina in her over-sized bedroom in that sprawling mansion and she only gets to keep one lousy gift. How dare parentless kids take what is hers!?!
SITTING AT THE DINNER TABLE, Christina is given a steak that is too rare for her hoity-toity taste buds. Ms. Crawford explains that if meat is overcooked, it will lose its vitamins.
Snarky Christina thinks that having taken her vitamin pills is good enough. As a result, Ms. Crawford has her sit at the table for hours and eventually allows Christina to be excused without eating her dinner. It wasn’t gruel, it was a FREAKING STEAK! Steak!! Talk about a picky, entitled child. Do you know what the kids at the orphanage probably ate? I don’t know either but I’ll bet a handful of wire hangers that it WASN’T a juicy, vitamin-filled steak.
FILLING IN ON A SOAP OPERA. Christina takes ill and lands in the hospital which creates a problem since she is required to be on the set for her role in a soap opera. (Oh, so you’re an actress, JUST LIKE YOUR MOM). Ms. Crawford offers to take over her role on the soap opera and Christina resents it! Seriously? One of the greatest actresses EVAH is willing to cover your ass for your stupid piss-ant role and you resent her for it? The ratings went through the roof and your character lived for another day. And a side note here: When Christina decided to become an actress, Mrs. Crawford asked Christina to change her last name so she could gain her own reputation rather than ride on the “Crawford” coattails. Christina REFUSED. But go ahead, Christina, keep resenting the woman who practically handed you your career. Your mom said it best in one of her famous quotes: “You have to be self-reliant and strong to survive in this town. Otherwise you will be destroyed.”
THE READING OF THE WILL – As the will stated, “for reasons known to them” neither Christina nor her brother, Christopher (seriously, how adorable are those matching names?!?) will get anything. Yet, the kids claim to not know the reasons. Let me help you dissect this. Maybe the reason was because you were given amazing opportunities in your life. Perhaps you forgot about the private schools, an indulgent childhood and a work ethic? Did you make any orphanage friends when you took horseback-riding lessons? So you got the last word, Christina. You got to write a book full of manipulations and received a nice profit. You survived all of Ms. Crawford’s “horrible” demands of being a proper, intelligent and independent young woman. Sure there were some drunken rants and a few beatings. Who cares?!? It was the 1940’s. Quit acting like you were the only one who was subjected to those behaviors back then.
So, when celebrating Mother’s Day, be sure to raise your glass in honor of all of the hard-working mothers who have dedicated themselves to being the best parents possible. And do not forget to take an extra swig in honor of the Dearest Mommie of all, Ms. Joan Crawford.