Moms Against Mums: A Mother's Rant

6:48 PMHeather

I've been all serious over here lately.  So today, I lighten things up a bit.  Although I take this matter seriously, I assure you.

This week, we finally had a dip in temperatures.  That means it's only near 90 during the day.  And just about--just nearly--cool enough to grab a light sweater at night.  Close enough.  So I made a pot of chili for Life Group on Sunday night and wore my boots to church that morning.  

Fall in Texas means one thing.  Mums the word.  No, really.  Mums.  As in homecoming.  As in my growing disgust curiosity about the growing trend in mums that are growing. Bigger and bigger and bigger.  That translates to crazier attempts to one-up one another in this showy tradition of homecoming mums.  

Listen kids, I see it.  I know it.  I remember it.  I moved to Texas in junior high and realized that homecoming mums were a thing.  It was all new to me.  But, hey--I could go along with that.  Well, except for that pit in your stomach that no one will ask you and you will thus be forced into begging your parents to buy you a suitable mum.  One that won't make you seem like the social outcast that you are sure you have become.  Because no one asked you to homecoming.   Which really meant no one asked if they could spend money on buying something that would die within hours (if you went the fresh flower route) and drive you crazy with the bells and whistles (that's literally for you non-Texans...not an analogy).  That thing you awkwardly would try to not trip over lest you look uncool.

After a few hours at a football game, the day was over.  When the whispers about, "hey, did you see so-and-so's mum?  It had a pink braid!" had finally died down, you hung that bad boy on your wall.  To your collection of mums.  That would hang there as a status symbol until you went off to college.  At which point you have to decide whether to throw out these creations or hang on to them for posterity?  So much went into them, after all.  

And these days, so much MORE goes into them.  Which had a group of girlfriends and I ranting and raving last October.  The cost of them.  The competition of having the biggest and best of them.  The insane and growing trend of creatively asking a girl in a way that rivals the most elaborate wedding proposals.  We are over it all!  We see where this is headed as our kids grow and ain't nobody got time for that.  So, we decided to start a grass roots organization. (Which means we discussed it fervently and continue to joke about it while doing nothing.)  Moms Against Mums. 

I know, I know.  Homecoming mums are a TEXAS tradition.  Just like this blog post explains.  For any of you outside of Texas who just don't get the tradition--read up.

I know it's all just fun and part of football in the great state of Texas.  Our grandmas did it.  Our moms had them.  We wore them. Yes, yes, we did. 

This is what mums looked like back in my day.

Note to reader.  I am not in this photo.  This is a googled image.  But, I could have been.  Because like any good Texas girl in the 80's, we all knew the higher the hair, the closer to God.  It was a carefully choreographed art form to get our bangs that high.  An art form that involved picks and cans of Aqua Net and hair dryers.  And a whole lotta prayers and attention and time.  

THOSE were big mums in my day.  I mean, if someone got a triple, that was some kind of crazy.  I vividly remember the homecoming that someone ventured out into the unknown.  The world of over-the-shoulder mums.  Our minds were blown.  As we sat in our little drill team rows at the game, we all strained our necks to see this new fangled version of a mum.  And it was indeed a sight to behold.  

While we know that everything is bigger in Texas, bigger is not necessarily better.  For real.  Trust me, little adorable teenage girls.  This is a life truth I've gleaned from years of living.  It's my wisdom.  And I want to whisper it to you now.  And save you.  From the chiropractor appointments that could be necessary.  From living like a hunch back in your 70's and telling the folks at the home that it's an old homecoming mum injury.  

If you don't believe me, let me give you some examples of bigger not necessarily being better.

That hair is a little TOO close to God.  You just gotta quit being so showy with your hair holiness.  And that chicken fried steak?  Let's call it what it is.  A heart attack on a plate.  Yes, Texans love our trucks.  But that, my friend, is a death wish.  How the heck do you even get in it?  I mean, can you picture holding on to your big Texas mum and safely climbing a ladder for a date in THAT?

I know you think it looks cute now.  Because everyone is doing it.  But, I don't think this is very cute. 

 Heaven help her!  She's been impaled by a zebra.

 Forget Where's Waldo?  Where's the girl? Or any sense of propiety?

 My lands!  Her purple and yellow guts are spilling out all over.

I know you think I'm just a crotchety old lady in my 40's.  And maybe I am.  But, I really, really think this is something you may regret someday.  Like big 80's bangs.  I mean, if you have to wear a harness over your neck and you are in danger of getting a hernia...then it might be a bit much.  

Oh, listen.  I get it.  Peer pressure is brutal.  And you want to outdo that girl who outdid you last year.  But, it's vanity, I tell ya.  When you boil it down, it's excess and vanity and jealousy and materialism all blown up in ribbons and bells and whistles and flowers and apparently, a plethora of other things they now throw into a mum?

Because nothing says homecoming like a superhero?

It's like a glowing neon sign screaming, "I'm bigger!  I'm better!"
Except it's not LIKE a glowing neon sign.  Now apparently, it IS a glowing neon sign.

Listen, I promise that I am not un-Texan.  But this fun Texas tradition has been blown into a mess of social status and social climbing.  Requiring insane amounts of money to be acceptable.  Truly--on one website, the single (AKA small and not acceptable by current standards) starts at $80.  For the basic, boring, no frills version.  All the way up to the over-the-shoulder bowl them over version, ranging from $200-$400.  

I, for one, do not want my kids caught in the midst of this extravagant display of materialism.  Being a teenager is hard enough.  Do we really have to encourage this type of mums gone wild?

As I am currently in my state of spiritual deconstruction, all my mind can think is how many starving children can be fed instead of some obnoxiously extravagant thing you wear for a few hours, hang for a few years, and will eventually throw in the trash with a great sense of guilt?

This is not what I want my boys to spend their my money on.  And for that matter, I would not want some boy or his parents to spend that kind of money on my daughter either.  Nor do I want any of my children to be caught in the drama of how to be asked to homecoming in the grandest fashion possible.  Back in my day, a boy just asked you the simple question to your face.  Or sent his friend to do it.  Or called you.  On the phone.  For a conversation.  Yes, we used to interact this way before texting took dating to another level of non-interaction communicating. 

Big frills and thrills were saved for big life events, like being asked to marry someone.  What kind of expectations are we setting for boys AND girls when they feel the pressure to create some show that has everyone talking?  At the age of 15?  What is there to look forward to?  Because the guy and girl will just need it to be bigger and better as the years roll on. A consumer mentality fed by dissatisfaction. 

So, the bottom line is this.  I am not so much a mom against mums, per se.  Neither are my friends who share my sentiments.  What we are really saying is we long for the day when you saw the girl at homecoming.   Not a floating face behind an excessive, expensive, flashy show of overspending and striving to impress others.  

Exhibit A, B and C.  

Or, a whole gaggle of ribbons, boas, braids and bells.  

I just want to say--girls, you are beautiful!  You don't need all the fluff to be wonderful and admirable and desirable.  You really can be a sight to behold with a modest mum.  One that a mom made with the help of her son.  Made with care and attention.  Made to be pinned to your shoulder.  Not worn around your neck, causing all kinds of muscle aches and pains.  

Call me old fashioned.  I'm okay with that.  I just think when it comes to mums, we can choose to live simply.  I'd like to believe that my little band of misfit moms can join hands and hearts and cause a new sensation.  Call it retro, if it makes you feel better.  The tasteful mum.  Simple.  Elegant.  Manageable. Affordable.  

Author's update:  Apparently, there is much hope for this generation.  Obviously, word leaked about our little band of moms against mums.  Because even as I wrote this blog post, I asked my son his thoughts on the upcoming homecoming--his first at the high school.  He told me all about a new thing going on up there.  He thinks it's called Hope Coming (he's a boy--not into details).  You donate the money you would have spent on mums and it goes to build wells in Africa to provide clean drinking water.

Wow.  What a novel concept.  The idea of modest living and global awareness and generosity toward others.  Now, there's a badge of honor to wear around your neck.  Just please--do not make it light up or jingle with the sound of dozens of bells. And for the love of all things good--do not add on a stuffed Spiderman or zebra.

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