Friday, October 16, 2009

Seal of Approval

While I was growing up my mom, like practically every mom in America, had a subscription to Good Housekeeping magazine. She would intermingle her issues with my Dad's copies of Sports Illustrated and display them neatly on our coffee table in a gender identified fan. I clipped my first picture of Princess Diana from Good Housekeeping in 1981, read countless "My Problem and How I Solved It" columns, picked up more than a few "Hints from Heloise," and generally loved sneaking a peak into the magazine I associated solely with maturity, motherhood, and home ownership. Good Housekeeping did not apply to my life, but it fascinated me, not because I needed to know 25 uses for hydrogen peroxide, but because that magazine taught me what issues mattered to my mom.
I recently turned thirty-five and absolutely nothing bothered me about taking this bold step toward middle age (whatever that means). In fact I am quite relieved I am in my mid thirties; I spent the better part of my 20's and early 30's feeling too young for my life and for some reason 35 strikes me as a very confident number. I am happy my number finally matches my circumstances. I have actually taken my 35th birthday as an opportunity to take stock of my life and decide what really matters and in some instances what I don't want. There were no surprises that came with turning thirty-five until today.
Just look at what jumped in my cart!
Yep, that is an issue of the magazine so iconic that it can put a silver haired butter pusher over 1/3 of the title and still remain recognizable. I have no idea what came over me; hello, I don't even like Paula Dean. Okay, I admit to buying magazines on impulse with alarming frequency, but Good Housekeeping? For heaven's sake I can justify swooping up a copy of Food&Wine, In Style, People, Real Simple...I can pretty much justify the purchase of every magazine under the sun other than Playboy, The Economist, and Good Freaking Housekeeping. Even though I am sure the magazine has kept up with the times, I have never thought of GH as current. Despite my childhood love for the publication, as an adult Good Housekeeping has always had a very yucky 1950's feminine mystique vibe about it.
There was nothing monumental about my purchase...I looked at the issue and thought, hey, I could read that and threw it in my cart. Who knows why I did it. Maybe I was attracted to the autumn color scheme on the cover, perhaps I was lured by the "anti-aging tricks for every decade" story, or it may have been the word THANKSGIVING screaming at me in bold letters...and then it hit me, maybe just maybe I am turning into my mother.
I poured over my issue of Good Housekeeping and except for the Paula Dean thing and a piece about out-of-stock wall paper, everything applied to my life in some way or another. Good Housekeeping is teaming with articles about spending less at the grocery store, making a lovely a turkey soup, avoiding illness, and talking to tweeners about mistakes smart kids make on the Internet. When I stumbled across the tip section and learned that you can indeed use hydrogen peroxide to pre-treat stains it occurred to me that Good Housekeeping is timeless. As long as there are wives and mothers of a certain age this magazine will have readers.

One of my favorite things about my mom is how she always has seemed pleased with her stage of life. From mother of little kids to grandma she has been generally comfortable in her skin and that truth is reflected in her confidence. It never seemed like she was trying to hurry her life along and has never wistfully longed to recapture the past...she lives in the present moment. My mom went through her Good Housekeeping phase and gracefully left it behind as her circumstances changed. Now she is enjoying the second half of her life among amazing friends and grand babies. She seems happier than I have ever known her to be.

So if my absent minded purchase of a timeless magazine indicates I am becoming more like my mother then I would say I am on the right path.
And that deserves the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.


Lynda said...

Awesome post, Mel. I miss you.

Mb said...

I love it! You are definitely on the right path.

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