A Boy’s Life: Mother Knows Best

How handy moms raise sons who marry handy wives

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t it wonderful my mother does this? Must I be crabby about it? Yes, it is wonderful, and yes, I am still crabby. Because if, as a boy, you watch your mother wallpaper 216 rooms (ballpark) and you see that she does it perfectly, and then you grow up and you have a house of your own, and someone suggests, “Hey, you know what would look great in this room? Wallpaper!” … well, you immediately open your piehole and say something stupid like, “Wallpaper? Shoot, I can probably do that. I mean, my mother does it. How hard could it be?”

Here’s how hard: Very, very hard.

It wasn’t only wallpaper, by the way. There was also — goodness, where to start? One of my early memories is of her building some kind of wooden zodiac signs as decorations for a formal gala she and my father were attending. Although, as I type those words — zodiac signs, formal gala, my father — I’m sure I must have dreamt that. But there were definitely other household projects. Furniture pieces stripped and redone. Holes for curtain rods drilled and the rods erected (with handmade curtains hanging from them). The occasional masonry project on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon. And oh, yes, how about the staining of the deck? How could I forget that? Good lord, the woman is past 70 now, and she has an arthritic knee, and do you know who stains the deck every year?

Actually, my parents get a high-priced professional for that.

Kidding! My mother does it.

So now I know what else you’re thinking: Where was my father during all of this? He was there. He’s fairly handy in his own right. Once he built a skating rink in our backyard. And he always did the Christmas lights. And when I was in sixth grade, he helped me build this giant wooden canal thing, complete with caulking, for a science project. Only now that I think about it, it dawns on me that as the years went by the number of projects he did dwindled, not because he wasn’t handy but, could it have been because (okay, I’m only thinking out loud here, spit-balling) …
… he felt intimidated by my mother’s wallpapering wizardry?