My mother recently made the momentous (and in her case split second) decision to retire, move across the country to live in the city we are living in, and buy a building that is big enough for all of us. Yep. ‘Cause that is just the way she does things. There’s no humming or hawing, no preparatory , “I should … “or “one day I will…” She just retired. And sold her house. And her car. She is now travelling across the country in a uhaul at the moment and I am thinking about my mom. Most of all I am thinking of all the behaviours that used to completely mystify me and that have suddenly become quite clear now that I am an adult (I am still suspicious of this fact) and a mother (again, who let that happen? I have a bone to pick with the mommy licensing department…)
A) Copious amounts of coffee
She could have simply inserted an IV into her arm, she drank so much coffee. Yet here I am, at 5:30 in the morning, the only thing getting me up some fresh brewed caffeinated goodness. I always wondered why she need to drink so much coffee. No. How she could drink so much coffee. Well, the answer is perfectly clear to me now: being an adult is tiring. She was tired! Who knew that being a single mother of three girls, working full time, doing her masters and the list goes on, could actually wear you down. Now that I look back on it, I think coffee was the only thing keeping my mother together.
B) An obsessive need to exercise
Okay. I admit. This is really a list of traits that have become clear to me because I have them myself. My mother completed around 15 marathons and would run for at least an hour everyday. This need of hers was a complete mystery to me until I had children and realised that it was the only way to stay sane. “Okay kids, Mom’s just going running for an hour! Outside! And Alone! Without you!” (the last part was my attempt at hearing my mother’s inside voice…okay. Maybe that is just my inside voice)
c) Nagging need to be productive
Now this is a weird phenonema. I remember a time when my biggest dream was to meet a poet and, if I was lucky, be burned to death by the smouldering intensity of our love. Yeah. That lasted about a year until the angst became, well, meaningless. My mother, on the other hand, was at her peak. The president of many committees, beloved principal of a school, the biological mother of three troublesome daughters and the surrogate mother to all of our friends, I used to be mean enough to mock her frenziness. Mom, I am so sorry. I’ll continue with my apology after I make dinner, write letters to my relatives, help my daughter with her homework, check for lice, see if there is anything to do on the committees I belong to, etc…
d) Aggressive Closet Cleaning
Okay, now we are getting somewhere! My mother used to expect us to clean our rooms (I know, she’s capital C Crazy.) This request would be made on a Sunday, amid the flurry of the week long laundry and the stress of trying to get ready for the next week that I suspect felt like it was steamrolling its way toward her. So of course, I took that to mean stuff everything on the floor in the closet and regain my prostrate position on my bed with the my new Archie. Well, we suffered from different definitions, my mom and I. She actually meant putting all the accumulated crap away or in the garbage. Who knew? Well, I certainly did after my mother would enter unexpectedly. She would see me on my bed, then pan out to the clean floor and then, focus on the closet door that would not close properly as there was the limb of a stuffed animal stuck between the hinges. I, of course, saw her see the closet door and would begin to tense behind my book. She would stride toward the closet door, open it with one, violent motion and have a mountain of my crap fall like an avalanche at her feet. Then the rage would begin. She would begin yelling and throwing my stuff out of the closet and back on the floor simultaneously like a dog furiously flinging dirt everywhere to find a bone. The anger! The fear of being hit by an easy-bake oven! By the time she left, my room was messier than it was before I “cleaned” and my Sunday reading break was definitely interrupted. The injustice! The childhood trauma! Except for, now that I am older, I have a nagging feeling that she might have been in the right. I know it sounds crazy, but what if I was being…lazy? And what if she saw my closet as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back? And, what if? Just what if, when she got home at six every night to find her daughters watching television in a messy kitchen, without dinner ready or homework done, she felt defeated and unable to cope? I don’t know, I ‘m just thinking aloud here…
One thought on “The wisdom of age”
This posting is EXACTLY why I am so fearful of becoming a parent. I have often wondered why so many people seem to “forget” what torturous evil cunty beings they were to their parents… and of course, there is just nothing like the ol’ mother-daughter bond of severe love/hate.>>The sleep deprivation… my absolute favourite thing to do in the world is sleep, and ALL of my friends with children are constantly sleep-deprived.>>But then there is the squiggly tummy flip flops I get when little people grab onto my hand or want to show me their latest toy/game/drawing….