Life Goal: Do Not Be Betty Draper Francis
Last night’s Mad Men was awwwwwkard. I can’t even possibly count on my fingers and my toes how many times I cringed and squirmed for poor Don Draper as he sat in the offices of SC&P. But the funny thing is, as far as the stickiness of the episode goes, it was all Betty Draper Francis: Motherlast night.
(That’s a thing with me, by the way. It’s why I love Mad Men so much. At 11pm on Sunday night my brain can’t shut off; I’m still thinking about the episode—the deeper meaning, the message, the Wait, what happens now?s.)
Ever since Betty Draper became Betty Draper Francis and moved to Rye, we have seen less and less of her story. Sure, we got Betty in a fat suit, we got Betty in a dark wig, we got thin, blond Betty again, we got a surprise tryst at Bobby 5′s camp, and then we get what we always get:Bitter Betty doesn’t like Wife #2; can’t deal with teenaged daughter.
But last night, Betty made her season 7 return over lunch with Francine—you know, her friend who mostly smoked while pregnant and gossiped about Helen Bishop the single lady. (Gasp!) But now Francine has A JOB! And she’s in AN OFFICE! For THREE DAYS A WEEK! Her kids are a bit older and she needed something to do, she said. And that’s when you started to see the cogs in Betty’s head moving. Because Betty does exactly, um, nothing. Remember when Betty used to ride horses at least and took up political causes in Ossining?
So Betty decided to be present and go on Bobby’s field trip with his booby teacher to her family’s farm.
Sure, Betty was overdressed for the farm, and smoked quite a bit, but the look on Bobby’s face was just PERFECT. This was the best day ever for Bobby. His mom came on the trip! They sat on the bus together and had conversations! She even tasted the fresh, warm straight-from-the-udders milk (hurl). That little boy was having a very proud day. He even told his friend to scram—"You can’t sit there! That’s my mom’s seat!" He was so happy—this was not the Betty Draper Francis that Bobby was used to. Maybe Francine got under Betty’s skin.
Or maybe not.
Since Bobby—because, remember, Bobby is a little kid—traded the second sandwich for some candy.
Oh, Bobby. It was Betty’s sandwich.
So Betty yelled in a hangry rage. Betty scolded Bobby and made him feel smaller than small. Betty put on her sunglasses and scowled for the rest of the trip.
“IT WAS A GREAT DAY UNTIL HE RUINED IT,” she scowled some more, looking for sympathy, and then stormed off with baby Gene.
When Henry asked Bobby what on earth could have happened to the greatest day ever…Bobby answered.
“I wish it was yesterday.”
Because Betty, oh Betty, it wasn’t Bobby who ruined the day.
But she didn’t see.
She didn’t see the way his face lit up when she agreed to come on the trip.
She didn’t see the smile when they sat together on the bus.
She didn’t see how much it filled him with glee when she drank the milk.
She didn’t see him shoo away his friend from his mother’s special seat.
She didn’t see any of those things.
The thing is,
I know I have done this.
I know I do this.
Not in the way Betty does, of course.
But it has happened. Something small sets me off. An inconvenient trip to the bathroom. An accidental elbow in the face. A ketchup packet squirted on my favorite sweater. A knee-jerk reaction—that usually only lasts a few seconds, even—to something silly, stupid, something THAT KIDS DO ALL THE TIME. But that’s what the kids see, right?Mama’s face, Mama’s upset.
So, that’s my goal: TO NOT BE BETTY DRAPER FRANCIS.
To try to not have those knee-jerk reactions, no matter how short, how fleeting.
To try to laugh it off, or make a joke, or simply say, “It’s okay that you spilled the ketchup on me…it’s only a sweater!” instead of saying that ten minutes after I made the face, pulled the scowl, clucked my tongue, and began cleaning up the mess.
Because they see it.
Bobby saw it.
My kids see it.
I don’t want them to ever wish it was yesterday.
(Even though I’ll never drink the milk straight from the udders.)