Polk Moms

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Saying Good-Bye to My Mock Mother-In-Law

When referencing perfect, before there was Martha, there was June.

Barbara Billingsley was the woman who breathed life into the character June Cleaver. At my first glimpse of the sad news of Billingsley’s passing, I immediately forwarded it to my husband. He loved her; I knew he would want to know.

His own mother died from renal cancer when he was a boy. I feel my husband turned to Mrs. Cleaver as the ideal mother figure by tuning-in to reruns of, Leave it to Beaver.

Me, being a girl born in the latter section of the 1970’s, had no idea a television character from the 1950’s would partly shape my life.

This boy, that grew to a man with a fairy tale T.V. mom, essentially made Mrs. Cleaver my make-believe mother-in-law. Comparisons were made and mentions of, “How June would do it" surfaced.

The heels. The red lipstick. Looking fresh as a daisy in a neat apron with supper prepared and timed perfectly to her family’s arrival; greeting those loved ones home with the brightest of smiles every - single - day.

It’s happened, finding myself answering the phone with my head jerking to the clock to see it mysteriously reading 5:30 p.m. Hubby was calling to announce he was on his way home from work.

How could it be 5:30 already?

I stare down at the pajamas I'm still wearing, grope at the haphazard pony-tail that is my hair and realize I hadn't even planned, much less started, dinner.

I admit it. I was irritated by the contrast of me and Mrs. Cleaver.

“I. will. not. wear. lipstick. everyday!” enters my brain with the following mental gripe.

"June Cleaver, you give us women such a high bar to live up to!"

There is a flip side. Days I smile fondly thinking,

"June Cleaver, you give us women such a high bar to live up to.”

Yes, as in a good thing.

Mrs. Cleaver’s character embodies an essence of tranquility to strive for. She’s a comforting guide line, a moving tip maker embodying the title of what is a good wife and mother, and the epitome of a lady.

Through all that projected goodness, whether some find it tacky or tactful, I’m comfortable with the concept of Mrs. Cleaver. First, we all have to remember the writers of Leave it to Beaver were men {snicker, grin}.

Secondly, we all know June really wants to kick off those heels, throw her feet up and mar a glass of wine with that precisely put on lipstick at the end of the day. Tonight, I'll toast my own glass to June.

Rest in peace, Ms. Billingsley and bravo!

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Tags: Barbara, Believe, Billingsley, Child, Cleaver, June, Make, Martha, Mock, Mother, More…dinner, lipstick, perfect

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