The definition of the word “ornery” implies having an irritable disposition. Synonyms include: irascible, dyspeptic, ill-tempered, crotchety, and cranky. For some reason, however, I don’t think they quite capture the essence of the word ornery; they hint rather more towards a negative connotation, while the word ornery seems to imply, to my understanding anyway, an intrinsically positive quality, imbued with strength and concentrated courage, or moral fortitude. Perhaps it’s because anyone I’ve ever known, who was ever described with the word ornery, was someone I knew to be strong, courageous, and with a sense of morality I admired.
So, I am particularly fond of the word ornery, and feel it is deserving of its very own, special placement as a unique sort of word of power, containing enormous benefit to a person, including a person such as myself. I love this word, in fact, for no matter how often I hear it, it gives me a little boost of courage. When I say it, my mouth literally (yes, literally. I am writing, after all) waters. It has a sort of yummy mouthful of meaning contained within it; it even tastes delicious all by itself. Go ahead, try it! Roll it around in your mouth, chew on it and suck on its juicy, cantankerous raw taste. See? It really does have a powerful flavor, doesn’t it!…especially when applied to a woman in need of a boost to her self confidence and personal power.
I have spent most of my life as what one might refer to as a “people pleaser.” You know the type: always trying to do what she thinks is right, according to yourstandards, doing what you want her to do, behaving as she ought to behave, backing down rather than standing up, in order to keep the peace. In other words: a freakin’ victim. Sure, some of these sort of persons might actually have all the power they need, using passive-aggressive manipulation techniques to herd others into doing exactly what they really want them to do, all the while feigning powerlessness and innocence; especially when the outcome isn’t so pleasant. But the other kind of People-Pleasing Victim -or PPV for short– is really just that: a self-made victim, known for pouring out all kinds of personal energy into the needs and wants of others, and then wondering why, when finally recognizing her (or his, but for ease and continuity, I will use the feminine- how trite, I know) own needs, finds herself alone, and drained, in the midst of all those demands of others that never cease, and which will never, ever, give back any of what they have received from their People-Pleasing Victim. Worse still, by having the audacity to even have needs of her own, the PPV might be chastisized, bullied, or otherwise become the recipient of scathing gossip, until she is pushed back in line, back to fullfilling demands like a waitress in a dumpy diner, passively pleasing others once again.
Mothers tend to become this way, I believe, as a result of feeling they are meant to pamper, praise, and always, always, always properly discipline their beloved offspring according to the most current, up-to-date, scientifically tested and approved parenting techniques discovered, and written of in books, in order to thwart the possibility of one day waking up to discover that this offspring is, in fact, an antisocial, sociopathic serial thumb sucker, who will never be more than a grocery store bagger at the local P&C store…. forever dashing the hopes of one day being recognized as Mother of the Year to the Greatest Nobel-Prize-Winning-Doctor-Surgeon-Inventor-Scientist-Astronaut-President-Ever.
Yes, indeed, these mothers require a full plate of orneriness to chew on until they choke on their own chump-dom, and til their PPV has abated and dissipated.
At least, that’s what I needed. Not only did I once read every new parenting book I could get my hands on, and try every parenting theory, process, or method I could learn, in a desperate and futile attempt to get my less-than-perfect behaving son to fit his explosive mortar rounds of mood into the required range of square molds of public school behavioral norms, I signed on as a Therapeutic Foster Parent as well! This kind of foster parent is required to have a higher degree of parenting skill, and have an even greater commitment to than the average parent or foster parent, with a better than average understanding of both developmental behaviors and learning challenges, as well as a good foundation of understanding various psychiatric disorders. This is because the children coming into our homes generally exhibited a multitude of very challenging, sometimes disturbing, even potentially dangerous, psychiatric behaviors which were often associated with having been severely abused and traumatized in their original family. As a Therapeutic Foster Parent I was required, and eager, to attend all sorts of psychology 101 workshops and training sessions that were offered. On the positive side, it did finally let me *see* my own son for who and what he really was/still is –an exceptionally gifted and brilliant kid, with all that that entails– but it also brought my level of PPV to even greater heights.
An ornery woman, however, is one who refuses to bow down to the fluctuating ebb of whims and beliefs of others, because she is secure in her choices and can stand strong against adversity; as a parent, she is confident that she and her child can survive the learning curve, without causing harm or permanent damage. She takes no bull-hockey from anyone. In fact, she refuses to even say the words “bull-hockey” and will tell you, to your face, what she really means: she won’t take any of your eff-ing bullshit!
No, no no… I can do better…really, I can (I’ve been practicing).
She won’t take any of your fucking bullshit!
(Whew! What a rush!)
The Ornery Woman (OW) is also known as She That Others Dare Not Cross (STODNC), unless they want to be brutally and thoroughly tongue-lashed, up one side and down the other, for making the mistake. Or, even worse, she might cast upon the power-mad demanding wrong-doer, even if it is the school principal, the Evil Stink-Eye Glare of Death (ESEGoD), which has been known to cause one’s nether-regions to shrivel up into eensy bitsy tiny bits. The best and most powerful ESEGoD ever reportedly cast, was cast by a the very rarest of True-Born Ornery Woman (TBOW) –one who was often referred to in whispers as “TSB,” (That Scary Bitch), when she wasn’t around to hear, of course. Those present at the time swear that her ESEGoD was known to have caused the shriveled up ‘nether bits of a particularly over bearing and demanding offender, to fall off completely and roll away, under a couch to hide and were never seen again! The gender of the offender is unknown to this very day.
I will admit to being awe-struck by such stunning, innate and rare talent. In reality, however, I don’t think I could ever wield the responsibility of such raw, ‘nad shriveling capabilities, nor do I want to have such ability. I want only a little bit of it for myself, with just enough orneriness to keep me free of subservience to my remaining child, with the strength to resist endless requests to fetch food & drink so that she won’t have to interrupt her SnapChat with friends, or YouTube make-up tutorials; and have enough chutzpah to remain firm against the whiniest pleadings of teen-aged reasoning as to why I should allow more facial piercings; and to have an ESEGoD that is just strong enough to convince her…or anyone else for that matter… that I mean business, and will not be backing down when I know what the right thing to do is, for my child, or myself, so don’t even bother trying to change my mind, or, or….or even try giving me any fucking bullshit about it.
That’s right. I said it. Yes, I want all that, without being plagued by self doubt, or guilt, for holding my ground. I want to stop second-guessing myself as a parent, and stop waffling over parenting decisions I’ve made. Or any decision, really, even for myself.
Mostly, it’s that last little tidbit that matters, above all else. I want to be an Ornery Woman because, to me, it implies having an innate sense of self confidence in one’s own life choices, with total mastery over self doubt. Lacking confidence and being full of self-doubt just plain sucks most of the time. So, in order to combat what I’ve determined to be weaknesses within myself, I’ve begun practicing my ESEGoD in earnest. My sister, however, has always been the lucky one in my family. She is one of those few TBOWs that I know of, and inherited our mother’s ESEGoD– and I’m almost ashamed to admit that my sister’s version is so powerful that it can make even me cower, whenever I have the misfortune to be caught in it’s cross-hairs! (My mother, when she was alive… well, let’s just say that the dust-bunnies under the couch always had company, ok?)
Alas, for all my practicing, I’ve only managed to go cross-eyed thus far, but I am getting better at it… and I have also started chewing on my favorite, most delicious, cranky word on a daily basis: Ornery. Ornery. Ornery. Chew, chew, crunch, squish…ornery…feeling the power flowing in my veins now…ornery…
…Ha! who needs balls of steel?
…when I have ovaries that clank. I Am an Ornery Woman! Hear me roar.
(why is a Billy Joel tune wandering around in my head right now?)
Your considerate comments and thoughts are welcomed.