Mother’s Day was a nice combination of my husband spoiling me in the morning (our daughter is off the hook for several more years, although she did say “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy”) and me meeting my obligation to my mother in the afternoon/early evening. Since cheese enchiladas figured prominently, everyone was a winner.
Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to be filled with the love of your children, or with seething resentment that shoots you down a rage spiral, depending on your relationship with them. My Child-Free by choice friends enjoyed their diaper and tantrum-free days, while my mommy friends waxed poetic on Facebook about the ways their kids made them feel special.
I don’t really like holidays, except for the part where we don’t work. Mother’s Day is no different. Sure, it’s nice. But Sundays are always nice. No work. On regular Sundays, you don’t have to wait so long to get a table for brunch. My mother is all about holidays. She LOVES them. She has very specific ideas about how they should be spent and celebrated. I share almost none of those ideas.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about family. I don’t write about my family much. My family of origin, that is. Recently, I started writing about them almost exclusively, but not on my blog. Not anywhere for public consumption. Someday, when my parents have shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to their reward, I’ll bust out those files. It’s not that I have a lot of horrible stuff to say about them. It’s just that I want them to be totally and utterly unable to defend themselves.
There isn’t much family harmony, and there never has been. I’m not sure there ever will be, and I’m fine with that. I’m married now, and I have made my own family.
I’ve written and deleted a paragraph many times now. When I try to write about family for a public forum, the words don’t flow like usual. In private, I can cover ten pages of my notebook and not even notice the time going by. It’s complex.
Can you be yourself with your family of origin? Your original scenario people? I can’t. Not completely. I don’t wear my patchouli lotion. I love patchouli lotion. I realize that I’m virtually alone in this love. Well, me and homeless hippies in Berkeley. You rarely see a dreadlock where you don’t say to yourself, “That dreadlock is going to smell like patchouli (and that hippie is going to ask me for spare change).”
I’m rambling the way I do when I only have a few stolen moments. Odie is giving V her bath, finally. The kid was so caked in dirt and sticky stuff, I was starting to worry that her day care teachers were going to say something. I’ve become too pregnant to bathe her. Leaning over the tub is a virtual impossibility. Odie doesn’t like to do it, and I don’t like to nag him. He comes home every day, struggles to deal with the stress of his job, cleans the kitchen, throws in a load of laundry, makes himself dinner, and then relaxes with his computer game. At bedtime, he helps read her books and makes sure that I always have a full glass of water and a handful of Tums. It’s not like he’s “slacking.” Bugging him to give V a bath (which she ALSO doesn’t want to do) isn’t high on my list. Besides, can’t you overclean children? Doesn’t it destroy all the healthy bacteria they’re supposed to be covered with or something?
Usually, the conversation goes like this:
Me: Any chance you’ll give V a bath tonight?
Odie: Hey, V, do you want to have a bath?
V: No. I don’t wanna bath.
Odie: She doesn’t want one.
Me: (silently to myself) Grumble, grumble, grumble.
Tonight, though, she ASKED for a bath. And not a moment too soon. Her face was actually brown. I thought day care had taken her tanning.
My thoughts are random, unfocused, and hurried. I’m still processing the Mother’s Day family feelings. I’m counting down the days of my school year (26!) and the days of my pregnancy (who knows?!). I’m worrying again about my 1:53 Down Syndrome screening result. It works out to about 2%. The perinatologist who does my ultrasounds says that for every 100 babies he sees with DS, 2 look normal, so he misses the diagnosis. Those are his personal statistics. Sometimes, when I’m really stressing, I wonder why I didn’t have the damn amnio? The risk seemed unnecessary at the time. We’ll know soon enough, one way or another. My dad said that whenever he gets excited about the new grandchild, he remembers “those two bullets that are floating around out there.”
I feel guilty worrying about it and hoping that Pringles doesn’t have it. It seems petty and disrespectful to the moms I know who feel blessed by their special needs children. But a friend of mine just spent Mother’s Day in the hospital with her month old infant with DS who had pneumonia, and I couldn’t help but hope that won’t be me.
As one reader/commenter so bitchily put it a while back, I probably wouldn’t handle it well.
When I was pregnant with V, I couldn’t wait until she was born, so I could stop worrying constantly. I still giggle at that naive thought. I don’t know about when life begins, but I do know that worry starts at conception.
Sorry, but that is a horrible thing for your dad to say. Firstly, DS is not the end of the world – there are far more debilitating illnesses/conditions. As you’ve pointed out yourself, even children who seem healthy at birth can develop autism etc. Secondly, way to be supportive Dad. Christ.
Agreed. Although, I know he had no intention of being shitty. It didn’t help that my mother then piped in with “That would be SO EXPENSIVE, all the medical problems they have…” I would have preferred “We will love her no matter what, so don’t you worry about a thing.” But anxiety is a serious genetic disease in my family, and we’re not always great at comforting each other through it.
I feel your pain – my mam is lovely, but she speaks without thinking all. The. TIME. She doesn’t mean to be rude, but she is, which is almost worse – at least if she was doing on purpose she’d KNOW she was doing it. I often have to stop myself from saying, “You know, you don’t have to verbalise every single thought that pops into your head.” Ah families, can’t live with them, can’t sell them into slavery…
I actually lost a little bit of sleep and had a bit of a sick stomach writing about my mom recently. I tried to be honest and sort of admit some of the baggage-y types of things about our relationship, but in the end, she was on my mind in a big way, so I wrote it and like other things in my life, put the most positive spin on it because that’s the kind of person I genuinely try to be. It felt risky…still does. I’m not a hundred percent sure that I’d do it again because it was so personal. I get where you’re coming from on the mom front, anyway.
And on another note, you seem like the type who will handle whatever comes your way, especially for your kids, worry or not. (LOVE the last line of this post!)
In general I refuse to write about the relationship I have with either of my parents in any kind of depth, mostly because I have started to realize that having a public blog earns you criticisms regardless of who you are, and that’s fine since I’m the one choosing to write, but I don’t want any aspect of my relationship with my parents to be turned into something else people can hurl at me when they get pissed that I dislike their favorite author or occasionally mention that motherhood can suck sometimes. Fairly recently, someone posted a comment that said something along the lines of “And you purposely got pregnant to trick your boyfriend into marrying you.” Normally, the hater comments don’t really bother me that much because they’re just… inconsequential to my life, but THAT one crossed a line; just stating as fact what was mere speculation, as if they have any right to throw things like that out there, as if it’s as foolproof as saying my name is Jessica. Like, that’s my FAMILY, you know, my CHILD, you can’t just SAY stuff like that about them. (Not to mention, the plan would have to be considered an utter failure seeing as by the time we do get married this summer Channing will be two. Ya dumbass!) So, I won’t write anything about my parents and anything beyond the most superficial aspects of my relationship with them. They’re humans with real lives and I’m not going to expose them to any conjecture a blog reader on the Internet cares to come up with.
Conjecture as fact is a full-time hobby of internet trolls.
I read that blog. I thought it was very brave of you, especially considering your mom could read it! Not that you said anything inappropriate, but it was very honest. If I did that, I think that someone would say to my mom, “Did you READ what she wrote about YOU on the INTERNET???” and it would be a way to stir up family drama.
Be careful what you wish for, eh Mom?