We always made our beds. We always said, “May I be excused?” before leaving the kitchen table. We produced spotlessly clean windows and trimmed all the edges when we mowed the lawn. Our mother set a standard and we attempted to perform to that standard “or else.” Sometime this required, how shall I say it?, strong language from my mother. She was not tiger mom, my mother Josephine Hatton, at least not in the sense that she was preparing us for success in an adult life. She just enforced high standards of performance by her children and I now understand how hard that was on her.
We never saw mom’s gentler side though she had one, particularly in relation to my father, but I know her perpetual attention to detail must have taken a toll. I know this because I feel the same tension (as far as I know) when I attempt to hold my class to high standards – in their writing, in the completeness of their knowledge, and in enforcing a certain level of fairness. I feel sometimes that I am swimming upstream against currents of unaccountability and looseness. I makes me seem mean and I don’t think I am mean. My mother wasn’t either.