Another holiday with Mom has passed and I managed to survive. There was no alcohol, so you should be extra impressed. For those of you who are just joining, you might want to read some previous posts for background information on Mom. I would start with the time we ate at Golden Corral, then read the time she needed help buying a computer, and finish with our most recent Mother’s Day.
I’ll be here when you’re finished. All done? Great.
This year, Husband’s Parents decided to take one for the team and graciously invited Mom, Mom’s Weird Boyfriend, and Grandma to their family’s Thanksgiving festivities. I think they’re trying to earn extra credit points with Heaven or something. Whoever is in charge of those points needs to email Mother In Law a gift certificate, stat.
My day with Mom began before I left my house, when my phone rang. I already knew who it was, and why she was calling.
Mom: I’m on the road and I need directions.
Me: Mom, you’ve been there at least 15 times. I know that you know how to get there.
Mom: If I knew how to get there, I wouldn’t be calling you! Now, don’t I take ___ to ___ and turn onto ____?
Me: Yes, Mom. You’re right. See! You knew how to get there.
By some miracle of nature, Mom ended up arriving before Husband and I did. I felt horrible about it because this is similar to the concept of leaving a wolf enclosed with a group of chickens.
You see, Mom likes nothing more than to complain about the recent events in her life, and this week, she happened to have a minor surgery. No big deal. She’s ok. However, I was sure this would be blown to open-heart proportions in her head, and I wasn’t there to act as a buffer between Husband’s normal family and my dysfunctional version.
When I walked in, Grandma was sitting on the couch by herself. She can barely see anymore, and she didn’t know I was there until I sat next to her and gave her a peck on the cheek. Within 5 seconds, I had gained a fuchsia lip print on my cheek and warm compliments about how nice it was to see me. Grandma is one cool cat.
I headed toward the spare bedroom where I always leave my coat and purse, and Mom followed me in. Naturally, we made nice and wished one another a Happy Thanksgiving. She asked me to put her necklace on for her, and I obliged. It seemed like this could be a normal day. Then, I turned around to leave.
Mom grabbed me by the shoulders and brought her face within inches of mine.
“I need you to be respectful of me, little girl,” she said.
“Don’t get nasty with me on the phone just because I don’t know how to get here.” She squeezed my shoulders harder as I tried to wrestle away.
“Mom, you repeated the directions to me on the phone. You DID know how to get here.”
For the next few minutes, we had a circular conversation on this lovely topic, until I finally broke loose and escaped to the couch, next to Grandma. Grandma is pretty lonely, as people her age get to be sometimes, and she eagerly began telling me about her friend who drives her places. Capital letters represent Mom, who began interjecting sentences between us from a few feet away.
“My eyes aren’t good at all anymore. I can’t drive, of course – YOU KNOW I HAVEN’T BEEN HERE IN YEARS – but my friend picks me up and takes me to go out to eat and so on. It’s so nice to get out of the house, you know. I can’t really watch TV anymore – YEP, I BET THE LAST TIME I WAS HERE WAS WHEN YOU GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL – but sometimes I turn on my lamp and magnifying glass – MAYBE I WAS HERE FOR ANOTHER THANKSGIVING. BUT YOU KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO GET HERE – and I try to read 3 or 4 pages until my eyes just give up.”
The food was great, you guys. Mother In Law instituted a kid’s table even though the youngest person there was 23, which was Sister, to be specific. All 23-30 year olds sat at the kid’s table and we had a great discussion about the semi trailer that now resides in my yard and the chicken coop that Husband wants to build underneath it. This is my real life.
Now I’m thinking about all the amazing food I ate yesterday and now I’m starving, but I don’t have much to make except frozen buffalo wings from a bag. Pretty sure they call this post-holiday depression. I just call it hungry as hell.
Anyway, Mom behaved pretty well for the rest of the day. She even brought me flowers for inviting her, and admitted that it was Grandma’s idea to get them. Mother In Law says that Mom made polite conversation at the big person’s table (ages 30-90), which made me proud. My girl is growing up. All in all, it was a good day, full of good food…
I think I have a date with a plastic bag of frozen food and my oven.
Help me. They can smell the fear. Only one day remains on the calendar until their release, and they’re scratching the walls. They have begun to become violent, picking fights and yelling obscenities.
Still, others have become lethargic, believing that freedom is a mirage that will fade once they believe it’s possible.
Packs of them circle me, blocking my path from sure escape.
“Can I go to the bathroom?” they ask. Others need a drink, and some need to know if they can change seats.
Yes, folks. It’s 5th and 6th grade – one day before Thanksgiving break. I have become weary from this journey. Provisions are running low, but the end is in sight. A weaker woman would have surely perished by now, but I trudge forth, past the Sea of Parent Emails and the Land of Lesson Planning.
Send me courage and strength, my friends. And also Starbucks. That will do wonders.