“Cheers to those who wish us well, and those who don’t can go to hell–Happy Moth-uh’s Day.”
I clinked champagne glasses with great-grandma Maga who had just spoken those poignant words. “Thank you, Maga, that was beautiful.”
…Yesterday was Mother’s Day and there was yelling in the kitchen. HOW MANY PACKS OF RIBS? TWO!
Aunt Krissy walked around handing out slices of mozzarella. “WHO WANTS MOOTZIE?!” She ambushed your dad and Uncle Billy as they were sitting in front of the house, watching you guys as you slept in the car. They each took a slice and sat out front drinking Miller Lites and eating the cheese with their hands.
…There was a lot of talk about everyone else in the family, basically everyone who wasn’t there. Maga was dividing all of the cousins and aunts into categories: Workers, and not. “He’s a work-uh. Krissy’s a work-uh. They’re not work-uhs. My broth-uh’s a work-uh..” which was a nice segue into a family legend she likes to tell about her brother, my Uncle Joey, a carpet layer from Staten Island was rumored to be laying carpet in the White House the day that John F. Kennedy was killed. Yesterday’s version had a new spin to the tale: The carpet was a birthday gift from Jackie O. And John John stood in the doorway of the Oval Office as they installed it. None of which can be proven as true, or untrue.
…The car was full of stuff for the drive home. With Maga in the front seat I was to sit the back row next to seven hundred open bags. To get into the spot, with the car already loaded, I had to dive into the space from the second row and be pushed over your car seats from my behind. I was like Catherine Zeta Jones slinking around in Entrapment, only the exact opposite of that.
I was in a short skirt and flashed my brother-in-law. My legs are as soft and white as marshmallows. Periodically as we drove something would fall from the bags and hit me. One time it was a frisbee (what the hell?? Is this a frisbee??), one time a pink rain boot. “Oh, shit!” I cried, setting off a chorus of oh shits from you, my two little parrots. This was a nice segue into your announcement, Baby Girl, that you had pooped. “Change, Mama, change me!” “I can’t baby,” holding my nose, “we’re driving! As soon as we get home I will, just, uh, sit tight.”
And because when one of you gets attention, gets hurt, anything, the other has to, so this set off the announcements from your brother, “Mama, I pooped, too!”
“Are you lying? I don’t believe you. You’re full of it. (Oh, well, maybe literally…) Who really pooped in this car? Raise your hand if you really did poop.”
I looked to see if, jokingly, your father would raise his hand.
…At home your dad and I watched a 60 Minutes segment about the amazing rescue of Jessica Buchanan. I sat with my hand over my mouth listening to what her days were like as a prisoner in Somalia, living in fear like that while enduring such physical trauma held captive outside, through the rainy season, for 93 days.
And I promised myself I would never complain about anything again.
I’m not going to be brat, wah, I’m a little tired, I can’t sell a book, boo friggin’ whoo. I saw so clearly what type of person I’m going to be: A grateful one! I’m going to keep things in perspective!
…And about ten minutes ago I completely lost my shizzle. You guys weren’t listening. You were laughing at me. You were egging each other on and being. So. Friggin’. Wild. So much for grateful for every moment. So much for perspective.
…When I was trying to get pregnant with you guys I would say things like, oh, but I don’t want to complain. I know comparatively people have it much worse. And a friend of mine told me that wasn’t fair. That yes, other people are really hurting, but what I was going through was real and hurt, too.
It’s not realistic to think someone will ask me, “How are things?” and I’ll say, “I’m not a prisoner in Somalia, I can’t complain. . .”
(Like when an old lady stops a mother with her wailing newborn at the check-out line and tells her to enjoy every minute and the young mother is like are you kidding me? I’ve getting my nipples bitten off every three hours. It’s impossible to enjoy every single minute. It’s impossible to always be calm, cool, collected. To shrug things off with the zen of a yoga master. My children are this close to tying me up to a chair like cowboys and indians, namaste.)
Being a mom teaches you a lot about life. One thing, how it’s possible to sustain on Pepperidge Farm goldfish. Another, the difference between all of these little imperfect moments–“they’re not listening!” like this is the worst thing in the world!–versus big picture stuff. My kids are healthy, and safe. It’s the latter that should guide you, not just as parents but in terms of the people you love in your life.
It’s the latter that enables me to step back at the end of a whirlwind day and say man, I got it good.
Thanks for a great Mother’s Day.