Rounding out our six weeks of Steve travel and house guesting was a visit from my mother and uncle. My uncle is the closest thing I have to a brother. He is 13 years younger than her and 13 years older than me, so we step down the generations like a split level ranch. He is the one I call when I need to bitch about my mom. Yet without a shared childhood there is enough of a distance that he doesn’t pick on my the way a sibling would. It is always good to see him. Particularly when he is there to take the edge off of my mother.
There are truly tough family relationships out there, and my mother’s and mine is not one of them. But after 24 hours plus two sleepless nights I still seem to have some things to bitch about. This morning I was stuck in front of the computer feeling like an asshole writing about potty training. I looked up at her, her loose curls flattened by Denver’s dry air, her eyes squinted on the pages of her lecture and ask how she would feel if she were the subject of a blog post. “I’m all yours” she tells me, arms open as wide as her smile “go ahead and make fun of me.”
So here goes.
The stories from this trip are like Momma Kea. A name inspired by the mountain 33,000 feet taller than Everest whose true size is hidden by the sea.
Implying that I don’t take good enough care of my husband.
Six weeks after I gave birth to a baby who was 7 weeks premature I had to have my gall bladder removed. This isn’t uncommon for people who lose weight quickly after pregnancy. When Oliver was in the hospital in an incubator that only thing that felt in my control was feeding him. So I pumped enough breast milk to feed triplets. Literally. I dropped 40 pounds in six weeks and had only gained 25 with my pregnancy. When I went in for my outpatient procedure my mother came to town to watch our tiny tiny baby and Steve stayed with me. When we returned home that night Steve held my arm as I walked unstably down our
shitty natural path. Ahead of us my mother stood in the doorway backlit by the warm glow of our home. As I crossed the threshold she began to cluck with caring. I took another step forward and she brushed past me. “Steve, you must be so tired, why don’t you lie down and get some rest…”
This weekend she was at it again. When we got up Sunday morning I had had six interrupted hours of sleep, she had had 5 and my uncle won the battle with just 3 (ish.) Despite Steve’s late arrival to the pity party at 8:45 she almost immediately was inviting him to rest and relax. Irritatingly she was correct. By 10 am while she and I headed out to the store (another one of her quirks is the daily food shop) Steve began to sleep…and slept for six hours. I guess he wasn’t over his cold. Whoops. I should have taken better care. I need to point out thought that she couldn’t have KNOWN that. She just lucked into being right. Even a broken clock…
Is it a.”out of this world” (Steve’s roast chicken, Leo’s rock collection) or b. “absolutely intolerable (music, mixing friends and family, leaving a glass of water on the counter) .” Pick one. In this case c. none of the above or d. all of the above are not answers.
Acting as if the general public are zoo animals to be studied with curiosity.
Anywhere we go she asks the same question. “What do people DO here?” She doesn’t mean for recreation. She means for work. This is coming from a woman who has literally not a single time in her life had to apply for a job. She began teaching at Harvard directly from graduate school and has stayed in her ivory tower until December of this year. I used to think the question was a knock. She would ask it anywhere we went in Vermont and I interpreted it as “Why would anyone want to live here?” Turns out this question piques her interest all over the country and the globe.
In an act of t
orture sharing what I love I took her to the Guster show on Saturday night. I am a long time fan (twenty, ahem, twenty five years strong) and oddly had become quite good friends with one of the band members when he moved to Vermont. So he hooked us up with tickets and we set out downtown in a magical craft Uber. It turns out the the tickets were s hittier than our path a little bit far up for the venue. So we navigated up the stairs as if climbing Mauna Kea. Finally settled she began to look over the crowd. It was a whole bunch of white people ranging in age from 22 (you still got it Guster) to 45. Plus my family. Looking around at the theatre she asked “do people really do this for FUN?” Um… yes? She was likely the only one there in a passive aggression act masterminded by her devious lovingdaughter.
Uber is magic. At least according to my mother. It is almost as if we are creating those cars out of the 0s and 1s of our phones. Glasses on, phone held at arms length she squinted in confusion and widened her eyes in surprise at the same time as she watched the zygotes of the black cars squirm around in the belly of Denver. This is pretty much her technology face. It was replaced with full on thrill when the car pulled up. “It said it was arriving and there it is!” Yes. “The Uber is RIGHT THERE. Just like it shows on the app.” Yes. Magic.
Looking 18 steps ahead.
In the very last minutes of the visit she was already gone. From the second my uncle ordered up the
magical craft Uber she was out the front door slamming it in my face as she turned the page from our visit. At least this time I didn’t get injured. A few years ago my family went to a memorial service that was casual, lovely and warm celebrating a great and long life. At some point my mother decided she was done with the service. Who knows exactly what triggers her completion but when she is done she is done. Due to a mild observance of social norms she did sit through most of the rest of the toasts. By the time we got to the car however she needed to make up for lost time and literally pulled out of the parking spot while I still had one foot on the curb. I am flexible. But not that flexible. Maybe I should have called a magical uber.
What about your mom? I’m sure she has quirks too. I bet she doesn’t read my blog so share away.