Saturday, May 12, 2012

Early Edition - H@llmark Holidays

Like some other Pixies, the forced-march Mother's Day extravaganza is not my favorite.  And it's not because we hate mothers!   Some of the greatest people we know are moms!   Moms work hard every day to save the planet, to solve its problems where we can, to love and care for its people, and to clean up the mess.  Every day is Mother's Day.

When the kids were younger, I absolutely treasured those lovely gifts they made in class, and also liked this and other opportunities to have them think about others.  But let's face it, this is primarily a holiday created to force people to feel guilty and run out to buy stuff, because everybody and their ad agency says you should.  Bah. Humbug.  To heck with that.

What I really want as a mother is for my (young adult) children to be healthy, happy, taking care of their own stuff, behaving kindly toward others.  We have our moments, but I'm so proud of my kids, and love that our relationships have evolved to an adult level. 

And what really bothers me about the You Must Be Happy hype is that there are many reasons why a forced fake holiday like this creates anxiety and pain for a good many people.  Sometimes -- like with my own toxic mother -- the relationship was a very difficult one.  Sometimes, one has recently lost a beloved mother.  Children who are raised without a mother are forcefully reminded that they are different, not "normal."  Stepfamilies -- which are common, but may not carry the same emotional connections -- may suffer tensions when one is expected to act as though the closeness is there.  And mothers who have lost a child are reminded once again of their loss, as if they could ever forget.  (I'm thinking particularly of a young local man who committed suicide at college last week, and the unimaginable pain his parents are already suffering right now.) 

When we think about celebrating mothers, we ought not think of overpriced chocolate and brunch at a chi-chi restaurant, but more broadly about providing all mothers the tools to raise their children safely and well.   Every child should be loved; every child needs food and shelter and education and health care; every child needs constancy, safety, and to be valued.  Motherhood is challenging, even for women of adequate means and accomplishment.  Mothers need to be able to plan their families; they need family-friendly work policies, and access to reliable child care; they need to provide at least the basics of care and nurturing.  I have issues with a good many political developments, in part because they are so contrary to actual needs of so many mothers and their families. Don't buy a card; go do some good instead.

Love, Mom


kathy a. said...

regular whines welcome, of course!

Sue said...

**Standing Ovation for kathy a!!!!****

AW: Escaped the visit with toxic relative, and enjoyed a very nice coffee visit with two of my sisters (the other sister lives away). They didn't give me any grief about bailing on the *other* visit. Yay!!!

AW Bonus: My dad happened to be taking a day-long workshop on CPR recertification at the centre across from where we live. He called and asked if he could come up and say hello over lunch. It was really nice to see him without toxic-relative there to constantly criticize him. Double-bonus: He is loving retirement!

So, all in all, not a bad mother's day after all. :)

amy said...

So happy for you, Sue, and also for your dad! Retirement doesn't suit everyone.

kathy, you sound like a mom, haha. I completely agree with everything you say.

Sarah at ratatat said...

Well said, Kathy! And too true.

W: my grandfather, who is 89 but who was in fair health, is in the hospital. He has just been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, which is responding well to meds, but said meds were messing up his sodium balance and making his kidneys not function and his behavior out of character. Doctors suggested we all stay close by for the weekend because it was touch and go. (I went up v late Friday night and Saturday) And he is blessed with a large and loving family and nearly all of us (my brother and I are the exception) live within 15 minutes or so. So everyone is visiting. And he likes it. But he can't sleep.

AW: on Fri the doctor suggested he might not make it to Sunday and today, we're talking rehab nursing care for the transition to home (and, well, hospice. He is 89. And has a DNR).

W: my mom is staying close to my grandfather and she is my babysitter and I don't have good backups. It will work out, but oy! And my second major event at work is Thursday so it isn't like I can take the week off (next week, I could just work 10 hours instead of my normal 30 and my work would be great about it.)

AW: he's getting better and all of the crap of child care and fussing with my husband about helping out and spending mother's day without my all doesn't matter. Or won't in retrospect.

kathy a. said...

glad your dad's doing well, sue!

sarah -- glad your grandfather is feeling more comfortable. so sorry about juggling the childcare and etc.

Sarah at ratatat said...

Well, W again - my grandfather is probably dying, barring some hail Mary pass of medical miracle. Kidneys shutting down and heart is still wonky. Hospice on Tuesday at home. Very sad here.

kathy a. said...

((( sarah )))) xoxox

purple_kangaroo said...


esperanza said...

Oh, Sarah, so sad. And the childcare logistics on top of it, unneeded extra stress.

Hi p_k! Good to hear from you.

W/AW: I was all prepared to be grumpy and bah-humbug about Mother's Day yesterday. Did not enjoy church, despite hubby's assurances that it wasn't going to be "too much" Mother's Day, it most certainly was. But then we got invited out to someone's lakehouse (OK, trailer house on the lake) for the afternoon. And it was really peaceful and fun. So, despite my worst intentions, I had a good day. How's that for a warped whine?

liz said...


W: Friend of mine from Pgh who rescued me long ago has been emotionally abused by his therapist(!) shortly after his dad died (!!) and in the midst of trying to figure out how to cut ties with this toxic therapist had a panic attack that he thought was a heart attack and so spent the night at the hospital (!!!)

AW: I'm the one he called to talk it all out.

W: I live way too far away from Pgh to get there and help him the way he helped me 20 + years ago.

But I talked him through strategies, affirmed for him that his therapist had crossed lines, and suggested a positive visualization exercise for him to do to get him through the hard phone calls he has to make.

kathy a. said...

oh, liz! how awful for your friend. so good he had you to call.

yay, esperanza! glad you had a good day.

kathy a. said...

Something I left out of my M day opinionating is that I've got nothing against expressions of love and gratitude on that day, or any day. It's the forced expectations that bother me.

My son came home to do homework, and ended up staying the night. Beloved made a great dinner (sunday is usually his night, anyway). The whole family; no frou-frou. Perfect.

The funniest part was when my beloved got carried away with a hug in the kitchen (he is not a PDA kind of guy, usually), knocked me off balance, and we both fell on the floor laughing and blaming one another. Son was left speechless with astonishment. Good to shake up the kids' expectations every so often.

esperanza said...

Liz, that's horrifying.

kathy a, :)

Today's task: figuring out insurance coverage (or not, as it's looking) and cost of speech options for Sweet this summer and beyond. NOT my favorite thing to do. And not helped by "he won't be in until around noon." What???

JenR said...

Sarah -
My mom is home from up north - if you need her, I'm sure she can take B during the day. I can help with all the kids any night this week. I'll email you too.

Sarah at Ratatat said...

Thank you JenR - I'll send you an email. And thank you for the warm hugs. It is so nice to have WW as a place to vent and grieve.

Liz - that's terrifying. I hope your friend recovers.

Esperanza - yay for unexpectedly happy Mother's Days.

Kathy - the falling down hug is a great story!

purple_kangaroo said...

Oh, Liz, so sad, but glad he has a friend like you. Kathy, I love the hug story too.

Hugs to all.

purple_kangaroo said...

My whine: I got hit with a really major flare-up the week leading up to and including Mother's Day. Which means, among other things, that I basically stayed home in bed while everyone else went to church and to visit with MIL and to lunch with my family. I did make it to the last half-hour or so of lunch. Then went home and went back to bed again.

My 6-year-old especially gets affected by my flareups. She gets clingy and starts acting out, becoming defiant, hitting siblings, etc.

While meanwhile I am draggy and grumpy and just want to be left alone and not touched, because I'm in pain and bone-wrenching, killing exhaustion that fatigue is too piddly a word to describe. And preferably not talked to, because it's excrutiatingly like slogging through mud to make the effort to understand what is being said to me and then come up with a response.

Sunday morning she woke me up to give me a note that said,

"May 9 2012

Dear Mom,

Happy Mothers Day!

i'm Going to send you to haiiwii to stay for a week to get away from your anoying kids. i love you. love E."


kathy a. said...

liz, i keep thinking of your friend. you always give great advice, so i hope he takes it to heart. the posse is definitely saddled up.

esperanza, arrgh! the insurance woes.

much love, sarah. xoxo

jenr -- you and your mom are mensches.

(((PK))) so sorry about the flare-up. your little sweetie-pie is a keeper! that is also one stylin' note to mama.

esperanza said...

oh, p_k, sorry about the feeling terrible. I've been sick (though not nearly that bad) and it's really affected our 2 year old. Clingy, grumpy, whiny, stuttering, etc. Amazing how Mama not acting right rocks their worlds.

Liz said...

((pk)) sending love

kathy a. said...

you know how sometimes you're sure something can't work, and then someone tells you how it might, and then there is more work to do, but still it is hopeful? yeah.

Sue said...



You are such a good friend Liz.

esperanza, I do hope you are feeling better soon.

AW: We are still in the throes of massive reorganizing here. We have found a way to do the work slowly and make it fun. I bring up one or two big containers from downstairs locker each day and if we sort through them, good. If not, there's always tomorrow.

We are rabid minimalists, so even the sorting and gleaning that we did four years ago left more than we are really comfortable saving. The key questions:

Who does that belong to? (If we don't know, how important can it be?)

Is it butt-ugly? (perhaps the reason it is hiding downstairs)

Will the boys know the significance of that item when both of us are gone and they are left to sort through our "keepsakes" together? (This one is not set in stone. We did keep a few things that we will need to show them an explain to them....)

The other daily question: What's so funny??? (very fun pictures from high school. Snerk!)

That's all for me.

Keep. Give away. Recycle. Throw away. Keep. Give away. Recycle. Throw away.....

Sarah at ratatat said...

Sue - how refreshing!

PK - hugs!

W the petty: my husband is moving into an apartment and it is frustrating how his priority trumps all. No different than for years, but frustrating and I have no leverage for changes. (specifically, I want to go to see my grandfather and asked if he could do kid drop off and pick up on Monday.)

AW: I am not unreasonable. I am not unreasonable. If I repeat that enough, I'll stand my ground.

(Sorry JenR, I know you know & like my husband and I just need to vent here to keep calm in real life.

Miranda said...

Sarah - Divorce sucks. Mine is fairly amicable and I still have a books worth of material. My X decided to move about 7 states away. It has it's advantages. Many many hair pats to you Sarah.

kathy a. said...

stand your ground, sarah. a dying relative trumps his convenience. xoxo

Sue said...

I agree with Miranda and kathy on this one sarah. Your needs come first here.


JenR said...

No problem Sarah, I totally understand.

liz said...


amy said...

Gah, Sarah, that sucks on many levels. *hugs*

My whine: we are getting ready to go to my grandma's funeral. My daughter is fighting with me about what to wear. My son's pants are too short, so he looks like a total dork. I have a tummy ache.

My antiwhine: the kids were great at the funeral home yesterday -- running around like mad, but respecting boundaries. Not so much that they weren't acting like kids, though. You know -- asking awkward questions, being goofy, cheering my mom up. Overall, it worked out.

I could use for this day to be done right now.

Sarah at ratatat said...

Amy, my sympathies. And nice that there are no whines about other people reacting to the kids being kids. Hugs during this hard time.

Miranda, thank you. And good luck - I don't think it is easy in any case, but ti gets easier. I hope. please?

AW: my second biggest work event is tomorrow and I really don't have any whines. Perspective is a gift :-)

kathy a. said...

((( amy )))

liz said...


esperanza said...

oh, Amy. So tough.

W: My weird BiL just keeps getting weirder.

amy said...

Well, everything with the kids was fine until my husband showed up, haha. He has nearly zero tolerance for kids acting like kids in public, so he's been fighting with tater (3.5y) all day. Dude, you cannot contain him. You set boundaries ("stay in the luncheon room. the luncheon room has white floor.") and you let him roam in that space. Gah. But at least my husband is the only one kvetching about kids at a funeral. Him, I can deal with. The rest of the family finds tater charming, more or less. (He was a bit loud during the service. Thank god for the nursery.)

I think my real whine for today is that I need to take a break from hanging out with my breastfeeding friends. Several of them have toddlers they are still nursing. That is 1000% fine, but tater has suddenly decided that he needs to do that too. (He hasn't nursed since he was 16 months.) He insists on sitting in my lap, pulling my shirt down, and "sniffing" my boobs. Tater, today is really not a good day for this. Srsly.

Thank you all, pixies. Love you loads! I'm available to ride with the posse this week, if necessary!

kathy a. said...

oh, amy. sending hugs. at least you got through it. and yes, kids are kids; they are allowed to be kids. xoxo

hugs to you, too, miranda. 7 states sounds like a good distance. ;)

Sue said...




W: you know those coil top electric cooktops? We have one and like it well enough. That part of the condo was not a huge priority when we were designing the place. It was more important to have it at the right height for hubby to cook.

I tried to clean the pans that catch the boil-over stuff and finally waved the white flag. Tomorrow I will go and buy replacement pans (the elements are fine).

Lots of elbow grease. Zero success.

AW: our cooktop will look brand new!

esperanza said...

Sue, how many times do we have to tell you? Stay out of the kitchen.

That is totally the right solution.

Sorry, Amy, but I got a little giggle out of Tater's "sniffing." Mini occasionally gets the idea it would be fun to pull my shirt down. Over a year later.

kathy a. said...

it has been a while, but i also recall being groped by long-weaned toddler/preschoolers. and that big stressful occasions tend to be stressful even for the smaller among us.

esperanza is up for some kind of prize for her "stay out of the kitchen" advice!

esperanza said...

oh! I forgot my big AW from yesterday. I won the disagreement with the insurance company, at least this first round. I called back to check on the status, and she said "the check will be issued on Thursday." So they've decided to cover it after all. Woo hoo. And kudos (I have *never* said this before) to the customer service woman who sent it back to the examiner.

kathy a. said...

woot! esperanza for the win!

Liz said...

Amy, I never thought I'd be grateful that my son refused to eat from anything bigger than his head, but it looks like there actually are some benefits to exclusively pumping.

Yay, Esperanza!!

liz said...

AW: Delegate Bob Marshall (R-epulsive)is not my Representative.

W: Senator Dick Black (R-evolting) is.

W: Virginia is in the national news again for being homophobic douchebags.

Sue said...

Yay Esperanza. Insurance is good when it works out!

Lol re: staying out of the kitchen. Funny, but hubby said the same thing! Go figure....

W: Liz, homophobic douchebags get a loud round of hisses and "boooooooo"!!!!!!!!

kathy a. said...

i had good intentions about the ceremony, but it has not happened yet.

i'm having some difficulties and anxiety around my sweet daughter, who i think is pretty depressed and am sure is not eating enough. her 4 p.m. arisings are not helping. frustrated also that she spent 2 days saying "just a minute" when i asked her to help with the dishes, and i finally ended up doing them. we need to have a talk, but i'm clearly not in the most nurturing frame of mind at the moment.

esperanza said...

((kathy)) and ((sweet daughter))

Sue said...

Oh kathy, i'm so sorry. (((((you & SD)))))

liz said...

(((Kathy))) (((Sweet Daughter)))