Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Awkward Mom and the Muppets

We interrupt your normal web surfing (Don't worry, that article about Lilo's bad fashion choices will be there when you get back, but spoiler alert: it is all of them.) to bring you this awesome announcement! Oh, and Awkward Mom is gonna bore you with tales of her childhood...

Like any other child of the 70s-80s, I do near daily battle with the Great and Powerful Nostalgia Monster. (Believe me, he is just as mighty behind the curtain.) My childhood burns in my mind like a blindingly bright filament from some decidedly not-earth-friendly light bulb. Friends and family loom large and troop by in a messy mix of color and endless time. (Why are hours so long when you are 10? And so short when you are 35?) The fact that these friends are often car-morphing robots, bears with stomach tattoos, scantly-clad escapees from the Savage Land, and little blue folks who live in German mushrooms is one best left for our therapists to ponder. The fact that the family members are sporting creepy mustaches, Joan-Crawford-level shoulder pads, and an obscene number of sweatbands is one that I face every day on AwkwardFamilyPhotos. Despite these facts, or maybe a little bit because of them, my childhood was amazing. You won't be seeing my name on the bestseller list because my writing would be child-trauma free; no demons to exercise here.

Now, lest you think that this post is going to turn into a country song about how everything was better back in the day, be assured that I am a fan of most progress. I am very pleased to be parenting in the early 2010s, mostly because I couldn't pull off some of those outfits my mother had to deal with, but there is other stuff too. Car seats. Modern medical advancement. Netflix. Oh, there is so much. Not that I am a fan of all advancement, mind you. Am I the only one who wonders if this is entirely needed? But I digress. What I really want to tell you about is this:

An early photo of me lives in a picture album in my parents' house; with slightly round edges, a little faded with time. (Post semi-colon adjectives are intended for every noun in that sentence, by the way.) The picture is of me around 8 months or so, pulling myself up with, and simultaneously chewing on, the side of a crib that looks like it is held together with hope. I am sporting a face only my mother could love: strawberry-blond fuzz on my huge head, 18 chins all dripping with drool, a huge red birth mark on my lower right jaw (which has faded, but is still there, by the way). I, clad only in a diaper and a filmy-white shirt, somehow grin around my mouthful of lead paint and wood at my adoring, camera-wilding parents. (Did they not have pants in the seventies? Because no one in our house seemed to be a fan.) I am resplendent in babyness; it is a great picture. But what makes this picture so special to me is the enormous Muppet Show poster that is hanging on the wall above my crib and the Rowlf the Dog I am clutching by one ear. The Muppet Show poster they left on the wall when we moved into our house, but the Rowlf lives in a stuffed animal net in my sons' room. He is smiling at me as I type this.

My parents were big Muppet fans. They still are. I don't know if there are people who used to be Muppet fans; they kinda never let you go. I have carried my love and my Rowlf everywhere I have gone. He was there for my absolutely magical childhood. He had a Miss Piggy colleague for awhile, but she, sadly, did not make it after one too many basement stuffed animal fights.

He went with me to college, where I remember meeting people and asking name, major, and favorite Muppet, in that order. If someone couldn't answer that third one, I knew that we were NOT going to get along. If you can't answer that one; stop reading this and go watch some Muppets (anything, it is all good). Within about 20 minutes, you will have a favorite Muppet. And yes, Sesame Street ones count. Come on back and tell me. You can list it in the comments if you like. My favorite is obviously Rowlf (although, I am quite partial to Gonzo as well).

Rowlf came with me to my first married home; he sat in a little alcove in the wall with our wedding picture and a stuffed bear of Awkward Dad's. They all watched us play house and mess up until we matured and learned to not get so mad about socks on the floor. Oh wait, I still get mad about that. Well, they watched us mature a little.

He came with us when we bought our first house and he lived quite happily in a corner of my bedroom. He was still there when Super P. was born and I kept him there. You see, the nursery had a lot of new stuffed animals and I was a little nervous about Rowlf's ability to keep up with a baby. He was 30 years old at that point. I was also more than a little nervous about Super P.'s interest. It would have broken my heart to have him reject my beloved Muppets for something I didn't understand, like Teletebbies or something. I shouldn't have worried. The moment Super P. was tall enough to see Rowlf; he reached up to him, gathered him in his arms, and they paraded on down the hallway. I cried for about an hour; happy tears, Readers!

My sons are third-generation Muppet fans and my daughter is well on her way. They love the original Muppet movie, the new Muppet movie, and everything in between. They even get into the Muppet Show, although their knowledge of 70s celebrities is pretty sparse. ("Mommy, mommy! Look at that colorful lady! Yes, Honey; that is Elton John though.") They belt out the Rainbow Connection, and when they play Pigs in Space, they make their own space sound effects. A Beaker has joined Rowlf, along with an Ernie, Cookie Monster, and no less than 4 Elmos. I could not be happier. And just because I know you really need to know: Miss Piggy is Super P.'s favorite Muppet and Gonzo is Super Toddler's. Super Baby is still pondering, but Fozzie seems to make her laugh.

There is something so special about the Muppets. I can't really even explain it. I don't even know why I am trying to put my feelings about them into words because, frankly, I can't. This post is actually very hard for me to write because words do not come close to how deeply the Muppets touch me. Do the Muppets take me back to my youth? Yes, but so do pop-rocks, neon-green jackets, and numerous other things that I am never, ever, passing onto my children. Do the Muppets take me back and help me remember my parents as young parents? Yes, but Simon and Garfunkel and other "Mom's-sad-hippie-music" (as Awkward Dad has dubbed it) does the same thing. No, there is something timeless about the Muppets. Yes, it is nostalgic for me, but it is also a very now thing for me. Muppets are magical, there is nothing else I need to say. But it appears Dr. Teeth has something he would like to say:

"Fact is, there's nothing out there you can't do.
Yeah, even Santa Claus believes in you.
Beat down the walls,
Begin, believe, behold, begat.
Be a better drummer; be an up-an'-comer.
Can you picture that!?"

Words to live by....and rock out by too.

Thanks for indulging her, Readers. Every now and again, it is good to let Awkward Mom just completely give in to her sentimental nature. You know, it is a scientific fact that it is good to rest one's sass once in awhile, Makes it more powerful. And get ready for some sass. We have been to the park a lot since we last blogged about it and the helicopter moms are out in full force...or full hover, to be more accurate. See ya next time, Readers!

Did I stage this picture just for this blog post? Only Rowlf and Super P. know for sure....


  1. What a cute Rowlf! (And of course, a super-cute Super P.) I used to have a thing for Zoot, but now I'd have to say the Swedish Chef's my fave. Sometimes I watch him on Youtube - guaranteed laughs.

    Recently I heard "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon" on Pandora, and I got all choked up. (Um, yeah, Katie and I listen to the Toddler station. A lot.) I'm trying to get her to sing along with "Mana Mana" too. Childhood without Muppets just wouldn't be childhood. :)

    1. Zoot is like the orignal hipster....awesome choice. :) And the Swedish Chef is an excellent choice as well, not that you could go wrong with the Muppets...

      "I don't want to live on the moon" makes me cry EVERY TIME I hear it. A friend told me that she always pictured Jim Henson singing it in a studio somewhere, as Ernie, and that just makes me lose it even more when I hear it. And as for the toddler station, are there other stations of Pandora?!?! I have got to check that out. :)