Forget June Cleaver. For my generation of impressionable dreamers, the inspirational TV mom was Clair Huxtable. She was gorgeous, stylish, smart and clearly in control of her household, even as she managed a successful career in the law. Like her name implied, she exuded clarity and confidence. The kids could goof off, but by the end of that half hour, Clair was unequivocally in charge. No one got away with anything – not even her husband, and certainly not her future son-in-law.
On the subject of ‘80s pop-culture icons, I fear my maternal temperament is more Roseanne Conner than Clair Huxtable. The antithesis of the well-put-together matriarch, Roseanne was perpetually tired and just a little indignant that she had to work so hard to stay one step ahead of her teenage daughters. Roseanne had a gritty side that made her hard to watch on TV, but a little easier to understand in real life.
Today’s headline news makes me recall another fictional family figure: Andy Taylor, one of TV’s earliest single parents. How did the Sheriff of Mayberry make it seem so easy? Surely the matronly presence of Aunt Bee was key. It also probably helped that the real child on the show wasn’t a red-haired boy without a mama, but a perpetually befuddled deputy named Fife.
Ah, if only parenting were as simple as a walk down a dirt road on the way to a beloved fishing hole. For a moment, I can dream.