I am Beverly Goldberg.
If you aren’t familiar with that name, you need to catch “The Goldbergs” television show. It is based on the family of creator Adam F. Goldberg. While all the characters have their funny and poignant moments, the heart of the show is Adam’s mother, Beverly.
Beverly is the Queen Smother, the mother who smothers her children with attention and needs to insert herself into every aspect of their lives. The school principal shakes visibly when she walks into his office. She has an “I heard it from a friend” horror story for every new thing her children want to try, from wrestling to driving.
And my favorite? Her OG Mama Bear attitude. “Are you crying?” she asks one of her children. “Who hurt you? Tell me and I will hurt them tenfold!” No one can hold a candle to Beverly when it comes to shielding her cubs. Part of the show is her learning to let go, but most any mother will nod knowingly at her uncomfortable mix of pride and protection.
We are all Beverly
I’m not that bad. At least I don’t think so. But I do see a bit of myself in Beverly, and to me, she’s not so much annoying as misunderstood.
When your children are babies and toddlers, the motherhood balance is easy. You want to be with them, and they want to be with you. Sometimes you wish you had a bit of personal space, but be careful what you wish for.
As they get older, you realize they have friends you’ve never met. They want to do things you can’t imagine your little Schmoopie wanting to do. On a regular basis they look at you like you have three heads, none of them particularly smart.
Beverly can’t stand it, and neither can I.
Every time her children assert their independence, she holds on even tighter. Every time they run into a roadblock, she wants to bulldoze through it for them. By the end of the 30 minutes, you’ve laughed a little at her. But, rest assured, there is a bit of Beverly in all of us.
Teased on the playground? Treated unfairly at school? Left out of, well, anything? Hell hath no fury like a mother on a mission. In my fantasy sequences I channel my inner Beverly, who tells her daughter “It’s my job to strong-arm people into seeing how amazing you are.”
Holding on just tight enough
Alas, that happens only in my dreams. Unlike Beverly, the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn as a mother is, in theory, the easiest. Step away from the child, and let her make her own mistakes. I can try to cajole, convince and offer advice, but I can’t make them do anything. Just like when they were toddlers, the tighter you hold them the more they wriggle to get free.
I do, however, still subscribe to some parts of the Beverly Manifesto. Among her rules is “mandatory hugs every time you walk through the door.”
That’s a rule all of us can support.