Tag Archives: mothers

The Ovaries Know

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I don’t think it was coincidence that my ovaries started hurting as I listened to the stories told at last night’s Listen to Your Mother show. Ever since I delivered my third child, my Girl Parts have been a bit more outspoken… letting me know how they’re doing and what they’re up to more often than  I’d prefer. I’m terrified  they will demand their own Twitter account. But last Listen to Your Mother 2013 logonight as my gut started to ache, I had to smile grimace and accept that they were simply in sync with the flood of estrogen that was washing over everyone in the audience. Even those sitting at the top of the gymnasium style pull-out bleachers. It was that deep. It was a show of ovarian solidarity fist-pumping, I suppose.

As many of my readers know, I lost my mother to brain cancer a few years ago. And as others may know, I am the “nonnie” of an almost-3-year-old red-headed spitfire I call the Grand-cuteness. She and her mama are still living at home with us, and the process of preparing them for independence has been slow and, at times, extremely frustrating. Sometimes I even forget to think she’s cute – but not often. My other daughter is about to leave for basic training with the United States Army, and my 8-year-old son can be the light of my life and the bane of my existence on any given day. Sometimes, within the same quarter hour.

So, I went to the show last night fairly confident that there wouldn’t be many subjects covered in the stories told that I hadn’t faced or forgotten about myself as a mother, daughter and woman. But as the show progressed it was obvious I was wrong, and my ovaries knew it.

As with any show about motherhood, there were funny stories and poignant stories and fabulous shoes. Some stories I could empathize with directly as I thought to myself “Preach it sister!”, but others I could only sympathize with, as I had no direct experience with mothers with mental illness, the difficulty some women have getting pregnant, or the emotions that consume the mother of a seriously ill child or one who loses a child.

The women who told their stories last night did so with incredible grace, humor, and strength. Each of them had something important to share, and the lessons were not only applicable to mothers. Humankind, it turns out, is universal. The things we learn from our children and pass on to them as they are growing into adulthood (and even throughout adulthood, if my family is any example) are important to us as fellow humans. Storytelling, in general, is a vital resource of information, compassion, and equity for our species and I am so pleased to see it being cared for and preserved in this event.

Lela Davidson and Stephanie McCratic are the forces of nature that brought this show to Northwest Arkansas for the first time last year and again this year. They both blog and write and get some national attention for doing so, but I am most grateful to them for what they are doing through LTYM. It makes a difference to the women who participated, to the audience who appreciated, and – most importantly in my opinion – to the society that is rejuvenated by the community of humans it creates.

Ladies of the podium – I, and my ovaries, thank you.

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The After Times

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The After Times

When my mother died I was devastated for myself. I lost a business partner, a confidant, and the biggest cheerleader for me… for everything I did in my life… that I would ever have. I lost the person I went to with any frustration or life-question. I lost my best “girlfriend”… the person I went to when my spouse drove me nuts, when my children left me speechless, when I had a life-decision to make and wasn’t sure which road to take.

I have a wonderful husband who has picked up the slack in some areas. I have had to learn to go to him when I am frustrated or confused, and he does a great job, but he doesn’t fill the entire void. My sister covers a lot of ground in other areas, because she has become my road-trip partner and let me rant to her when I am going nuts at home and just need to feel sorry for myself.

But the biggest source of sadness I have is actually not about me. It’s about her. My sister. She was, in many ways, an only child from late elementary school through college. Even though my mom remarried, they were kind of a dynamic duo. Mom was able to share many experiences with my sister that she couldn’t with her older kids. When mom died, one of my first feelings of sadness was for the many, many experiences that my sister was still going to have that our mom wouldn’t share with her. My brothers and I had had weddings, children, career successes, and hobby successes that my sister had only started to set goals for when she died… I hated that my sister would not have our mother here to share these things as I and my brothers did.

Last week, my sister lost one of her close childhood friends to an untimely death. Mom knew the young man’s family (I say “young man”… he was 31, so I guess he was actually a Man) so her number should have been the first my sister called. They could have shared a common history as they discussed the news. They would have been able to remember some great moments together. Mom would have offered to go with my sister to Dallas for the funeral. Instead, I got the phone call. I am sympathetic, of course. I even cried as my sister told me what she knew about what happened. I remember her friend, and met him once or twice, but it’s not the same. Not even close.

I knew when mom died that I would be taking mom’s place for my sister in many ways. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy when it has to happen. I am happy to do it, of course! But I hate with every cell of my body that I have to.

Some things get easier with time, but I don’t think this will. Ever.

There’s a Liiiiiiight…

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When I was my oldest daughter’s age, I was running off on Friday nights each week to attend a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Music! Costumes! Bad acting! And overt sexuality which, at that time in my naive existence, was just salacious enough to make me feel naughty but not bad enough to scandalize me. It also caused me to knock my weekly RHPS habit as soon as my mother suggested she might go with me. Of course, my mother would not have thought it was a Big Deal. But until I got to know her better as an adult, I didn’t know that.

My daughter donned her cap and gown and stood with the rest of the senior class at a school assembly today. She wasn’t seated alphabetically like the rest of them – in fact, she was on the last aisle of chairs sitting alone. She won’t be attending the commencement ceremony Saturday night because she is still working to complete her final class online. Also, because she’s sure that her current situation (being in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy) would cause her some pretty serious discomfort if she had to sit in a folding chair for a couple of hours. (But, mostly because of the unfinished class.)

“In the velvet darkness
Of the blackest night
Burning bright.
There’s a guiding star
No matter what or who you are.”

I felt so proud that she is finally going to be done with what has been, at the best of times, a very difficult scholastic career. And at the same time, I was unbearably sad. It brought me to tears that were almost uncontrollable to watch her standing on the last row, in a room full of peers but so not a part of the spirit of the moment. As the school song was sung, and the rest of the students all threw their arms around each others’ shoulders and swayed back and forth in what was obviously a group action they did at pep rallies and such… Delaney stood alone.

When I asked her later why she didn’t just step forward and latch on to the students on the row in front of her, she just shrugged. I don’t know if it bothers her to not feel a part of the group, or if it just doesn’t occur to her to make herself a part. And I don’t know which of those possibilities bothers me more – that she may not think of it, or that it does bother her but she won’t acknowledge it. Either way, the moment was heartbreaking. I think of all of the ways life can be difficult, and how she may never feel like she fits in. Worse, she may not know when she has the chance to make things different – easier perhaps – and the opportunity will pass her by.

At the assembly, one of the teachers gave a speech that focused on the need for plans in one’s life, and also for the need to be able to change those plans when opportunities, tragedies, or just unexpected events come along. Which led me to silently offer up a little “thank you” to the powers that put that speech in that teacher’s head. It was, I hope with all my Mother-Soul a speech that will stay with my daughter for a long time.

What’s interesting, though, is that it’s not the “be flexible” part of the speech that I hope sticks with her – although it’s a valuable lesson. I actually want her to get something out of the Make Plans part. Unlike many of her peers sitting in the gym with her today, she certainly didn’t think about where to go to college or what her major will be… there was no way that college would be an option with the grades she (barely) maintained for the last few years. I don’t know how seriously she has considered a potential career path either… I know she doesn’t say or do anything that makes me think she gives it much thought. And now that she’s going to be a mommy in a couple of months, any plans she had been making in her head have definitely had to be put on hold.

The part about being flexible was definitely aimed straight at me. The last couple of years have left me pretty sure that making plans is potentially a futile exercise. But I suppose I can agree that if I can change those plans and make the best of what’s handed to me, my life is still successful. The support and love I give to my daughter right now is certainly more important than any idea I had to sew more or write more this year. Selling a few more tote bags won’t have nearly the impact of making sure my daughter and her daughter have a good start on their life together. Today’s words were a good reminder.

As good as I feel about my mothering skills and parenting decisions, my mother is desperately missed at times like this.

It’s only been a week!

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Mom’s been living with us for a week, and I’m exhausted. I don’t mean to sound whiney, but I seriously feel like it’s been a month.  It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can mean to a person’s attitude; and how lousy mine is without one.

That said – my job has also been incredibly stressful this week, so the combination of mental exhaustion from work and physical exhaustion from home have taken a toll. Today I lost my patience with her as we were trying to get her in the van and since she was already frustrated at her lack of coordination, she cried. Yeah, I suck.

One of her co-workers brought some lasagna and Martha Harps rolls by this afternoon, so at least I didn’t have to cook. (thanks Melanie!!) Did I mention it’s also my birthday? I spent it being tired and frustrated. Not as much fun as spending it being pampered and inebriated… but equally sleep-inducing.

I did get a new blender and a little wedge thingie to put my laptop on in my lap, and some sweet cards from my fambly. Oh, and chocolates and cheesecake. So what the hell do I have to complain about??? I’m sure it will all be better in the morning.

Have I said I won’t complain any more?? Okay, this time I MEAN it!