Mommy was “in a hurry”
So, she told me not to stop.
I was watching a ladybug scurry
And I counted it’s four dots.
She pulled me down the street
In the bubbly falling rain.
As puddles rippled at my feet
I jumped again and again.
At the shop she got busy
Looking at this and that.
I found a lucky penny
As she tried on frilly hats.
Mommy said “let’s go”
When the drizzle was done.
She ignored the giant rainbow
And the cheerful sun.
Mommy didn’t have time
To look about with me.
She missed a million ants
Marching by the tree.
At last, I had enough.
“Down here” I cried.
“Look at all this stuff!”
And she stooped by my side.
She saw worms wiggling
On the mushy ground,
And we started giggling
As we looked around.
A fat, white cat
Chased a yellow bird.
It flew away just like that.
It really was absurd.
We saw squirrels climb trees,
As hasty crowds dashed by
Overlooking lively bees,
And me and Mommy sighed.
When you rush here and there
You miss so many things,
And you’ll never be aware
Of the wonders a day can bring.
I woke up three or four times last night. I got out of bed because while I lied there my random thoughts were ready for the day even if I wasn’t. I made my way to the coffee maker and put in a pod before I realized that I hadn’t switched on the kitchen light. It was dark outside at five am and would be for a few hours more. Menopause fog or sleep deprivation? I guess it didn't matter, Probably both.
As I drank from my favorite mug, “World’s Greatest Nana”, I heard the old heater click on adding more warmth to the living room. It was a chilly November. November? Where had the year gone? I had just gotten over my last birthday, which was in April, and it would be Thanksgiving soon. I sighed.
I didn’t have to cook this year. The boys would be taking their families to my ex-husband’s home. Of course, I was perfectly welcomed to tag along and enjoy his wife’s gourmet holiday meal. Awkward. I have only been to one of her family dinners. The entire time, I couldn’t shake the idea that Barb and I have both seen Greg naked. He’d naturally had a few relationships before we’d met and then married, but I never met any of his other lovers.
He was my first but, since our divorce, not my only partner. I was so green back then. I had done little more than make out before my wedding night. It hurt a lot and I knew little about sex, so I lied there and waited for him to finish. He reacted with hurt and I felt guilt and shame. That night would repeat itself, after about twenty years of marriage, and continue until we split in the fall of 2016. I wanted to give him what he needed, but things began to change.
We had long finished our hot, young lovers phase when we became parents for the first time. Then we learned to find time for planned intimacy, somewhat refreshing our tamed desire for each other. Unfortunately, two sons later our sex life changed again. We were working parents and the sheets really began to cool off. We were still friends but the spark was definetly dying.
When I found out about my husband’s affair with Barb, the new gal at the store, I was outraged. Well, maybe not outraged but I thought I ought to pretend to be. After so many years as a tepid wife, I felt that I owed Greg that much. I cried geniune and fake tears and kicked him out of our home. He stayed that night with her and never left. Still, part of me was truly relieved. Matt, my oldest was starting college and Joseph would be joining him the next year. I would finally have time for me.
I was often filled with reproach as I prepared nightly dinners for Joseph and me. I loved my son but I looked forward his graduation from high school. I would be...free...that’s the word that I felt as much as thought. There were times when I dreaded the empty nest but I knew that the kids would come home for weekends and breaks, which they did less and less as they finished earning their degrees.
The next thing I knew, I was buying wedding gifts, helping out at baby showers, and welcoming a small tribe to my house for Thanksgiving. They did it for me because they knew I was lonely. I appreciated the company and Matt and his wife helped with the cooking and dishes. Poor Joseph had little time for the kitchen as he had to mind the kids and listen to his wife’s litany of complaints. She couldn’t give it a rest even for one day. Virginia, Joseph's wife, was just like Barb. A nutty blond (dyed) who was either syrupy sweet, or mean as hell. Like the Colorado weather of Joseph's second hometown, she changed with little warning. By the time we all said our goodbyes, I was more relieved than sad because, while my family would be leaving, they would be taking "Ginny" with them.
The sunlight that suddenly appeared through the living room window brought me back to present day. I was surprised to realize that I had gotten dressed and turned on the morning news. I eyed about half a mug of cold coffee and briefly deliberated the merits of drinking it verses getting off my but to get a fresh cup. I took a sip and grimmaced, Decison made.
While the coffee maker hissed, I watched the mail truck continue down Las Florez street to my neighbor's house. I took my fresh coffee in hand and crossed the living room to check the mail. I reached in to retrieve a few bills and a card from Barb. It was a Thanksgiving themed greeting card with a RSVP penned inside. I wondered who sent invitations via snail mail anymore when I realized that I had unfriended her and Greg online. Oh. I wondered if they knew. The card was so Barb that it was hard to tell.
Again, I caught myself thinking bitter thoughts as I entered my front yard.
"Maggie," I whispered, "let it go. Let it all go. You don't want to be this person."
It was then I knew that I would be joining the rest of my family for dinner this year.
I picked up a leaf that was as orange as my oldest grandchild's hair, just like Nana's. Mine was from a bottle these days but close to my natural color. Madison was in the middle of her first year of school and was turning into a lovely and clever young lady. Her little sister, Joseph's girl-twin, was just talking and had her daddy's silly sense of humor. She also had her daddy's and grandpa's sandy waves and piercing blue eyes.
Matt, who looked more like me, had two boys who were in the Cub Scouts and would interrupt each other, as they did during our video chats, animatedly telling me of their latest adventures and new badges.
Matt and Sarah would be eager to tell me about the latest home improvement project that they were planning. Of course Greg would be full of ideas and offer them a discount at Home Warehouse. I imagined the scene and found myself looking forward to the holiday this year. Maybe Barb would finally swap a few recipies with me.
A crisp wind blew through my blouse and I debated: grab a sweater or go inside? I finally opted for the sweater and finished my second cup on the front porch as autumn marched forward in time.
Blame (or thank) Your Parents
If you are screwed up, you may be told that it is weak to blame your parents for that. If you are well-adjusted and successful, you may be told that you should thank your parents.
I think that both points of view have merit.
The truth is that at some point, you have total reign over your life. You have to take responsibility for your own choices. That said, building a person is not very different from building a house. A well constructed home begins with a good foundation. Only a parent can create that foundation for better or worse.
Google First Five California and you get this brief blurb:
First 5 California was created ... to recognize that children's health and education are a top priority, especially in the early years of development. Research shows that critical brain growth and other developmental milestones take place during the earliest years of a child's life.
A child's brain develops rapidly during the first five years of life, especially the first three years. It is a time of rapid cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and motor development.
So, as you can see, many of the choices you make in life are largely based upon your earliest experiences. As you grow, your parents add walls to your house. These walls can keep you safe, or they can keep you isolated from life experiences that help you develop into a healthy and sucessful person.
According to Abraham Maslow, creator of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, positive human development depends on whether or not one's needs are met during early childhood.* He presents his theories as a pyramid. The base describes the basic need for food and shelter. The next level is about safety needs. This includes physical and emotional safety.
Going up, we find belongingness and love needs. The next level includes self-esteem needs, and a paradigm for how we hold others in esteem. Are we better, lesser, or the same as others?
At the apex of the pyramid we find self-actualization. This encompasses achieving our full potential. This is where we become responsible for what we do for a living, who we choose as a partner, associates, and so on. This is the realization of the success or failure of the previous levels. As I said, this is the result of the foundation given to us by our parents.
In conclusion, how's it going? Are you living the life that you chose? No, you are not. You are living a life that was all but predetermined by whomever raised you. You can thank your parents for your achievements, and you can rightfully blame them for your failures. Hopefully you can appreciate and make peace with both.
I am an older woman who has never married or had children. I am at peace with that until I try to strike up a conversation with another woman. She inevitably asks if I am a "Mrs." and a "mommy." She quickly learns that I am neither and therefore not a member of "the club." Conversation over, friendship impossible.
Just in Case
I'm working on being an athiest. I was raised Catholic and believed in god in a shallow sort of way. I was always uncomfortable in church and Sunday school. That condition filled me with shame and guilt, but the whole story never made sense to me.
Walking on water? Turning water into wine? Forgiving those, no matter the evil they have done, just because they ask? There is too much to say about this topic. Too many inconsistencies in the story, and no traces of the "truth."
As I grew, I tried to hang onto religion even with evidence of scientific fact. I even tried to reconcile religion and known scientific fact. A balancing act that I have finally given up on. Now what?
Why did anyone try to make me a believer in the first place? I guess I'll never know. Still, I feel as if I have been duped. I am a bit angry with those who imposed their fiction on me. I know they meant well, but they damaged me. I spent too much time hoping that my self-sacrifices would mean something. That all I had to do was believe and someday I would be rewarded. Meanwhile, the wicked win, but they are saved so no worries.
Most of the world's population believes in a divine power. I don't get it. That said, many things---from small transgressions to bigger atrocities---are committed with the belief that all one has to do is be "saved;" to act with imagined support of a higher being.
Most of the world believes in the lie. They perpetuate the lie.
My mind still thinks of god. I still think phrases like. "God only knows," and "Goddamn." I am trying to phase out those words. I worry that there is a god that is pissed off at me for my blasphemy, heresy, or whatever, but if that is the case, he hasn't said anything about that.
They condescendingly talk at me
about respect and responsibility.
They absurdly inform me
when I fail to meet their expectations.
Their words are empty; meaningless lectures.
They blindly show me a mute reality
As I observe their interactions.
They vainly communicate to me
Ugly thoughts veiled in polite language.
Their vices are forbidden to me; meaningless warnings.
They fabricate my future
with their unqualified wisdom.
I can not trust their visions
so I ignore their instructions.
Their lives will soon be mine; meaningless existance.
Their consultations are empty.
Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.
There are those that will hurt me just for laughs, to assert their power, or because they simply don't like me. That said, they are not my adversaries; I am. I must remember that I have value. I matter. In the moment, I seem to forget that. I suffer the "thousand cuts" time and again because I listen to them. I should be listening to myself.