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Entries in parents (2)

Tuesday
Aug072012

Take My Sibling... Please.

This is not embarrassing AT ALL.My seven year old daughter informed me today that her younger brother embarrasses her. This information has left me conflicted. On the one hand, I am sympathetic. I had a younger brother and he embarrassed me. On the other hand, "Hey, you little Wednesday Addams wannabe, that's my SON you're talking about!"

Y. is a beautiful boy, both inside and out. At the age of three, he uses words like microscope and esophagus. He helps me mop the floor and puts his clothes in the laundry hamper without being asked. He's vibrant and talkative.

And my daughter is embarrassed by him.

This, I think, is one of those territories where one has to sit back and let the kids figure it out. I can't force her not to cringe when her brother starts chattering about how he'll be thirty two on his birthday when he'll actually be three. It terrifies me that one day, I will replace her brother. It's inevitable, I think. No matter how cool I am, I will embarrass her if I step outside of "normal" parenthood. Which I will because as my mother and mother in law have often said on different occasions, "you have strange ideas about parenting. 

It's taken me a long time to like me, and I don't know if I'm prepared to tolerate the girl's dislike for me. Can you force someone to love you? No? What if they're your child? Then?

I remember when Y. was born and how excited N. was about it. There's a beautiful photo of her holding him as she gazed at his little face with love and wonder. One might call the look "motherly." If I had been asked at that moment if N. would every be embarrassed by her brother, I would've scoffed. Grown ups aren't the only ones that change how they feel. Children tend to do it, too, if not more often.

I want to tell her that she, too, was once three years old.

I want to remind her how she used to run circles around her portable, little potty rhythmically chanting, "I need a diaper, I need a diaper, I need a diaper." 

Or about how one time we were lunching at the club at the  golf course near our home and she loudly proclaimed in a packed room where I was the only woman, "This chair hurts my vagina."

Or how about when she threw up on me without any warning once on the way to Saudi and I had to walk around the plane with a blanket full of vomit?

There was also the time she cried and cried and CRIED at preschool and I had no option other than removing her from the class.  I want to tell her how embarrassed I felt when the teacher of the class looked at me in a way that I was absolutely sure was full of blame.

I was embarrassed every single one of those times, but I loved her, you know? The love was more important than my feeling cool. Or even being cool.

I hope she gets that. 

Because, like I said, Wednesday Addams, that's my SON

Saturday
Jun232012

On Going Home. But Not Being 'At Home'

The Bloggess, or Jenny Lawson, the woman who once brushed up against me while we were getting on a bus and said, Oh, I know who you are, you're a great writer right after I stalkerishly introduced myself, happens to have a hilarious memoir called Let's Pretend This Never Happened. In it, there's a chapter about visiting her hometown after having moved to another city.

It was a well crafted chapter full of wisdom. It possessed a sad beauty and sense of longing that I found slightly boring in the most blaspehmous of ways. I guess, it's just that I couldn't relate. Having lived within the same forty five minute radius my entire life until recently, I never knew what it was like to go really away, make somewhere else your home and then come back to what used to be your home.

I'm not an idiot, I'm aware that this moving away and then coming back thing happens often. Like the way I know people wear crocs or buy tofu. You know these things happen, but unless you have to do it -- it's hard to wrap your mind around.

I Do Love Florida. But. Wait. There's More.

At this very minute, I'm at the home that used to be my home before I got married.

Surprisingly, I'm not very "at home" right now. I look around at the place I've always known and I see things I never really noticed before. Like, wow, Florida has a lot of palm trees. There's a serious love affair going on here between the citizenry and flip flops, too. Also, lizards. And palmetto bugs.

Plus, um, who do my parents think they are, having a whole life full of activities and people that have absolutely nothing to do with me or my brother?!

Florida, whether in the detailed or general sense, is kick ass. Powdery beaches. T-shirts that are considered "dressy clothes". Many of my deepest connections to the human species reside here whether through blood or love. No doubt, this state and the sandy town where I grew up is like a perfectly worn pair of jeans that have stretched in the right places but are also tight around other places which bypasses the torture of having to squeeze into Spanx that became too small for me one child ago.

Yet these jeans are sitting a little too high on my waist for me to feel completely presentable.

::Initiating dream sequence::

And what... the... are they... stone washed and tapered?

Um. Who put this braided leather belt from the Gap circa 1991in the belt loops?

Was it the same insane person that "pegged" the cuffs of these jeans, folded them over, put scrunchy socks and a pair of white keds on my feet? And then wrapped a flannel shirt around my waist? This is Florida, why do we even HAVE flannel here?!

Suddenly, these jeans don't feel so comfortable.

I feel the pressing need to get them off of me. I do need comfortable jeans, though. But these just aren't the right ones any more.

Is there another pair around here, just as comfortable... just as worn and fitted in the right places?

::End dream sequence::

Never to be Duplicated

When my parents talked about their lives in Pakistan and India when I was a small child, it was no different than fairy tales for me. The fantastical nature of these conversations was less about seemingly exotic places and more rooted in the idea that my parents were once very small just like me.

In my teenaged years, the stories became repetitive and my adolescent brain interpreted them as being rife with self righteousness. Maybe it was an attempt to transmit cultural memory on their part, but something about their stories in those years echoed Polonious' "To thine own self be true" rant to his son. Which, by the way, everyone who quotes that line should know that I'm 99% sure Shakespeare was trying to illustrate that Polonius was sort of stupid and not very wise. So. You know. Consider not quoting it any more.

Anyway, into my twenties, I heard those stories in a new way. I dissected them for clues from the past that explained who my parents were and why they did what they did now. With the wonder of my childhood and the defenses of my adolescence stripped away, I developed a compassion for my parents' carefully concealed emotional frailty, and, best of all, the humanity embedded within the tales and the people who told them. 

Now, I'm in my dear-God-seriously(?!) late 30s still listening to the stories and feeling sympathetic for people who are unable to let go of the then and embrace the now. The stories began as entertainment in my mind and then evolved into near manic efforts to remind me of "where I cam from." Thankfully, they became successful attempts at connecting with me on an emotionally mature level.

But they now seem like crutches for people who find the past far more interesting and satisfying than the moments (and people) that currently present themselves, and I'm not going to lie -- that hurts my feelings a little.

My nature is to cast the past off gently with a light kiss so it can be on its way. But here moments in the past can sing siren songs about a time of highly individualistic freedom, careless words and hours in front of the mirror perfecting various "eye make up concepts". But the songs of the past are tricks aimed at lulling the disquiet that accompanies addressing the reality around at us at this moment. The company I kept so long ago has gone on its way, the air has changed, the sky is different and... seriously, there are way more palmetto bugs.

I fully embraced and lived those moments and the idea of somehow trying to recreate those feelings or that person feels all wrong -- not in the ethical sense like ketchup on prime rib, but more so in the mayonnaise with French fries sense.

I'm learning to breathe the new air in this old place and to look up at the new sky in this hometown and quietly say, "Hi, we used to know each other really well a long time ago... what you were will always be important to me, but I'm ready for us to know each other for who we are."

It's been awkward, so that's why I've been quiet as I tend to not share thoughts until I know exactly what I'm feeling. Headed for home on Saturday. Looking forward to the resuming the 'now.'

What is it like for you when you go home? Do you just pick up where you left off or is it awkward?


photo credit: kevin dooley via photo pin cc