Friday, August 31, 2012

Completely Paranoid People

My mother and I have entered a new stage in mother-daughter relations. It reminds me a little of what it was like when I was 18 and she was 40, when I would often pose the thoughtful question: "Mom, why do you have to be so negative?!" And the thing is, she was never really negative; I was just born with an instant reflex against anyone who tries to be the boss of me.

My mother being annoyed these days is understandable. I see my (fulltime working) parents once a week when they feed me dinner after taking care of my kids all day. I don't have time for a lot of things, including friends outside work, exercise, and my own writing. When I do have time for a visit with the parents, I bring the party with dog, kids, and bags of laundry, "So, what's for dinner, guys?"

There was also that brief period a few months back that I didn't let my mother see or speak to her grandchildren. I made the mistake of letting a very exciting baby secret out of the bag to my kids before my brother had a chance to make his special announcement to our parents. I knew that if I let the kids have any Grandma contact, I would totally let down my brother.

The worst moment was the day I knew my brother was going to make the call from Germany; my mother called me that morning, starting to cry, "What's going on? Why won't you let me speak to the girls?" I panicked, Uh, don't worry, Mom. We're just busy - tell you what. . . why don't we call you later? OK? Bye! Talk to you later! . . . I did feel a little guilty when I could still hear her talking as I ended the call. So, yes, she has reason to torture me.
And believe me, my  mother can hold her own with payback. I started feeling something new that might be contentment, which I shared with my mother who's been there for me through some tough times. My mother's response was, "You might never be in a relationship again . . . you might never find the right person for you . . . for the rest of your life." Huh, maybe things aren't that great afterall.

My mother has started throwing around words like menopause and middle age, and even worse, menopausal middle-aged (are those even words that describe a person?). On our way back from Cavalia last week . . . wait, there's a better way to tell this story.

Yesterday, I had an email exchange with Mathilda in Germany, who I haven't heard from in a while. I was a bit concerned because my parents seem to think that my humor might be offending Mathilda and I need to tone it down and be more respectful of the grandbaby in progress. Mathilda didn't seem offended in our email exchange so this is how I followed up:

to be honest, I was worried I really did offend you. My parents are completely paranoid people and i'm really embarrassing them lately. my mom was calling me a menopausal middle-aged woman w glee the other day when we took the kids to this horse circus show. i was like - mom! you wouldn't want to hear that when you were 41. we were laughing but still.

then she got out of the car and i noticed that a mound of pink cotton candy had fallen and partially melted over her crotch like a candy mirkin. still makes me laugh thinking about it . . .

I sent my reply to Mathilda before I realized the email was copied to my mother. Doh!

I talked to my mother a little later, and as usual, we laughed about it. My parents were signing paperwork to make a down payment on a condo for the kids and me before driving down to Southern California to try to talk my grandmother with failing health into a rest home. What completely paranoid people. I should be the one who's paranoid. My mother said in a quiet tone before getting off the phone, "Now I have something to make you feel guilty about for a . . . long . . .long time."

Well, if it's gonna be like that, I might as well share a text I received from my mother recently. It was her second in a series:

"with her beautiful black tall warm blood horse like in the show xxmom"

I wondered if she was sexting me, but she didn't seem to find that funny. Probably too busy planning rebellion strategy for her footsoldiers. See what I'm dealing with here?


Monday, August 6, 2012


Sunday is the day my girls return from their dad’s, and it’s always so shiny and happy to see each other. Before we can do anything, there must be the competitive airing of The Insults and Injuries That Have Occurred Since Our Last Meeting. If it’s a scratch, however faint, I must examine it, and if it’s a bug bite, I must feel the bump. I’m a focused mama monkey after finding a tick attached to the back of Violet’s ear during an intake inspection a few months back.

Inevitably, it’s during the owie updates that the sisters erupt into their first shouting match, cutting each other off with soap opery accusations, “Mom, SHE’S just trying to get you to LOVE HER MORE!” or “SHE’S LYING ABOUT EVERYTHING! Can’t you see the LOOK on her FACE? IT WAS ALL HER FAULT!"

I was totally done by 11 last night when I was demanding they put their little heads on their pillows and read their books quietly if they weren’t sleepy. I haven’t been able to completely transition them away from Hawaii time, which means we can sleep in like champs, but those kids were tired wrecks last night - howling and yelling from the loft bed; sobbing and screaming from the doorway. I stood in between with my hands up, like I was under arrest, repeating: You. must. chill. Calm your body. Breathe! GO TO BED!!!

Our day had been nice. There was emo, but we handled it. Sure, we didn’t play Monopoly Junior for the Family Olympics as promised, but we played that game recently. And, Violet and I went on a couple walks. Daisy helped me clean our apartment for hours. The kids played with the neighbors. We watched the shows the kids are obsessed with on Disney TV.  In the afternoon, with Starbucks in hand, we took a leisurely stroll through the brand new local Target, the first to open in our own town (vote yes for equal access to big box retail). For dinner we walked to sushi. What was so terribly wrong?

There are changes going on with Daisy that have nothing to do with divorce or the annoyance of sharing a small space with her mother and sister.  I proved that recently when she was spinning out erratically and *LIGHTBULB* . . . wait, I know what to do! Little Violet and I formed a relay team gathering supplies. Five minutes later, Daisy was in a warm, soothing oatmeal bath in candlelight, gripping ice cold lemonade in one hand and a small piece of dark chocolate in the other. No joke. Violet and I pulled the bathroom door closed behind us in relief, and Violet hung a sign on the doorknob. We had subdued a Tasmanian devil.

Post bath, Daisy was ALL BETTER. Hello, hormones. At almost nine, she’s so young. However, puberty starts for many girls around 8 now, while boys are still clueless for at least another couple years. I still haven’t fully wrapped my mind around what this means for our girls, but it appears that this household is at the beginning of a very long and cranky process. Especially with a reactive volcano of a little sister. If Violet spots Daisy in her training bra, she instantly explodes, punching her in the arm, “I don feel COMFOBLE to see you in a BWA! I HATE YOU SIS!!!”  If I’m not on the scene fast enough, there’s often a slammed door or perhaps a ripped up drawing Violet used to clarify her position on the training bra vs. no training bra debate for her big sister Daisy.

I am hoping every day to get the news that the bank will approve the short sell my parents are doing their best to make happen. The girls and I could clearly use a little more air. We’re already planning the dream timeout space in our hoped-for attached garage, complete with punching bag, refreshments, music, a suitcase to grab for empty threats, a comfortable place to sit or lie in a ball, reading materials, decent lighting, mirrors, and makeup.

Applying makeup is one of the ways my girls like to calm themselves. I’m OK if they do that once in a while at home during the day, but I was pissed when Daisy walked out of the bathroom last night with makeup on after taking a bath - while her sister was waiting in the hallway to take a bath.

Daisy let me have it for my anti-makeup propaganda, “You don’t understand me! You can’t tell me what to do! I’m growing up now! Don’t you get it? NO ONE [sob] UNDERSTANDS ME!!!”

Oh crap.