Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Post 3: Henry David Thoreau Probably Never Called Your Grandmother A Bitch

Today was a gorgeous summer day, and YG had to work so I decided to take the girls to Walden Pond for some swimming and sleeping and reading in the sun. It was glorious. Zygote napped for most of the time. I finally got around to starting The Emperor of Ocean Park. And the MG made a few friends and swam for most of the afternoon.

But because this is me, you know there's a catch, right?

I was nursing Zygote when I noticed that an older woman was shooing the MG away from the little girl she was playing with. MG followed them over to their blanket, where the woman shooed her away again. MG went back in the water, upset, and I heard her shouting, "Stella, stella! Come play with me!" The girl ran back in the water, smiling, but was grabbed by the woman again. MG sulked back to the blanket in tears. When I asked what was wrong, she said that the woman, the girl's grandmother, told her she was too old to play with Stella and to go away. We saw Stella going back into the water so the MG took off, and I told her to nicely tell the grandmother that she would like to play. The two girls splashed around a bit, but then the grandmother came over and shooed the MG away again. The poor kid sat in the water, doing her best Brando impersonation, shouting "Stella! STELLA!" If it wasn't so heartbreaking, I would have laughed.

Defeated, MG returned to the blanket and I let her play with Zygote while I went for a swim. I did a few laps, and noticed the grandmother at the water's edge. I swam over and introduced myself as MG's stepmother, and said that while I understood that MG was a few years older, she really enjoyed playing with Stella.

I don't know what I was expecting. Usually, I'm the bitch or at best, the cold one, in social situations so I'm caught off guard when someone else is inexplicably rude. The woman replied, in a heavy accent, "I told her to go away. She's too big." I said that I understood, but they seemed to be playing together nicely. "I told her to go away, to stop annoying people. She's annoying."

Immediately, I am in bitch mode. Annoying? It's one thing for me to think the MG is annoying. Let's face it: most kids are from time to time. But we're related. I'm ALLOWED to think she is annoying. This, though, was a total stranger telling me that my kid was an irritation. I attempted to remember that mothers are supposed to have manners (I think. Although I didn't read it anywhere, it makes sense) , and responded with a not-too-snotty, "well, okay then. No need to be rude."

Then, HER fur was up. "Rude? Rude? Your daughter. She is annoying and rude."

Editorial note: the MG may be many things. Rude is not one of them. She's overly polite and always says "excuse me," "please" and "thank you."

Manners were gone. "Sure, lady, whatever you say. Go ahead and be a freakin' bitch [emphasis on the bitch] about it."
Then I smiled and stomped away while a few other parents gaped.

Back at the blanket, the MG asked what we were talking about and I gave a noncommittal response about the weather. I let her go back in the water where she made a number of other friends and they played about a year's worth of Marco Polo.

After we packed up our stuff, I took her for pizza at Mike's in Davis Square where we people watched and played with Zygote. And yes, she did annoy me with about 60 billion questions and stories. She's allowed.

Post 2: Documentation

Of the many weird things about being pregnant and having an infant, one of the strangest things is the realization that, at one point in time, my parents were equally as enamored with me. I'm the oldest and they were married for about four years before I was born so they must have had the same 'what the hell are we doing? how is this going to change our lives?' conversations, and then subsequent 'hey, this is going okay. we should do this again' conversations.

We talk about these things now because I'm curious, but I didn't really know anything before about my parents' lives as young people deciding to have kids and struggling to figure out what to do with those kids once they had them. It seems like, in my mind, we have always been the family we are now -- all five of us. Although one of my earliest memories if of my brother being born. I remember that I had a book called, "The New Baby" and after he was born, my dad took me to the Livingston Mall to get my ears pierced, my present since presumably, my brother was their present. Then we went to the hospital. This was before "rooming in" and "family time," so he was still in the nursery and the nurses gave me a stool to stand on to look through the glass. I don't remember anything else, but I do remember that stool and peering through the window. Sadly, I don't have any recollection at all of my sister being born, but to be fair, we all sneezed and my mom was pregnant again. Also, I was six so forgive my less-than-astute powers of observation. I did find, though, documentation of my sister's birth when I was digging around some paperwork at my parents' house. On that weird light green paper with the dotted lines across the middle to make sure you're printing your letters correctly, it said, "My mom had another baby. Her name is Becky. She has brown hair. We like her."

The other weird thing I've discovered is that not everybody goes through life looking at people and events like they are characters and plot developments in their own personal novel. Some people are fine with things just happening, and they don't feel the need to document everything so that they won't forget it. I am not one of these people. I have kept a journal since I was ten years old. I like to remember the specifics of what I was doing, what I was wearing, baseball scores, the weather, etc. and sometimes the important stuff of what's going on in my mind and who I've loving/hating at the time. When I die, my children will have pages and pages of documentation confirming their suspicions that their mother was a self-involved headcase with a lot of teenage angst long after the teenage years. And that also, she had no idea what the hell she was doing.

I don't know if that makes me happy or sad, but I like that, in between the whiny 'what should I do with my life' ramblings, Zygote will find long detailed explanations of lazy, summer days just watching her smile and giggle, how I could happily spend hours walking her around town and chattering about where we're going, hoping that she might get it, and how I have such hope for her.

I don't know why I assume that Zygote and I will not be close later on. Who knows? Maybe we will manage to successfully navigate the middle school/high school years without her feeling totally alienated, but not in a creepy 'my mom is my best friend/my children are my LIFE' sort of way. I hope so. But if not, I have the documentation to prove that at one point in time, all we needed to make each other happy, was each other.

And, that I am crazy. But of course, as a teenager, she will already know that.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Project: 30 in 38

I go back to work in 38 days. Soon, I will find words to express the dread and sometimes excitement (adult conversation ALL DAY) that I feel about this. Right now, I'm a little bit sad because I'm finally starting to get the hang of things, have a routine, and enjoying my time with Zygote...and the end looms.

Like most things post-Zygote, the reality of my maternity leave didn't quite match up to the summer I had envisioned in my head. I had chattered endlessly to YG about "The Summer of JM" and how I was not only going to write and read every day and make a ton of new mommy friends, I was also going to figure out what exactly I was going to do with the rest of my life, develop a plan and be well into plan execution mode (to use a little corporate speak) before I headed back to work. YG indulged me. This is his second kid so he either knew better than to frighten me ahead of time, or he actually believed that I might be able to pull this off. He knows how I am when somebody tells me that I can't do something. I do it anyway. With gusto. No matter how stupid or ill-informed it is. I ignored all of my friends who told me that "maternity leave does not equal vacation" and went ahead with envisioning The Wonderful Summer of JM.

It's now 11:08 a.m. and I am sitting here in my pajamas with morning breath, an unmade bed and finally, a napping kid. This is not out of the ordinary. However, I have my second load of laundry in the washer, am ready to empty the dishwasher, wasted time on Facebook, and possibly, if luck holds out, I can take a shower. I'm feeling pretty good. And that, folks, is the reality of The Summer of JM. Don't get me wrong -- I've had a lot of free time. I did read some good books and I got back to running and I joined a moms' group to meet some new people, but I WILDLY underestimated how much time I would be spending being Zygote's mom.

I'm now at the point where I really like being Zygote's mom, but with the return to office life coming soon, I want to try and tackle some other items on my list. Last night when I was waxing neurotic to YG about all of this stuff, I said that I needed a Project. I haven't taken a writing class in a while and when I don't have deadlines, I tend to forget about writing. I was whining about how I didn't know what I want to be when I grow up and how it's unlikely that I will figure that one out in next 38 days, and when I caught a breath, I continued to whine about how I can't even figure out what to write about and how I can't even get my poorly-maintained blog updated. Whine, whine, whine. Angst, angst, angst.

The end result of this conversation was the decision to try and write 30 pieces/posts/whatever you want to call them in the next 38 days. I don't know if YG suggested this just to shut me up -- it was after 11 p.m. when most normal people would like to go to bed, but also when my neuroses seem to kick in high gear -- or if he knew I would immediately like the competition aspect. But, I like the idea. And given that my only other projects at the moment seem to be deciding what rerun of America's Next Top Model I'm going to watch while nursing Zygote, let's just consider this Item #1.