My First Mother’s Day

The best thing about my first Mother’s Day is that I get to be a mommy to the sweetest little girl in the world. I feel so lucky to have her – to have this sacred privilege.

I had envisioned my first Mother’s Day to be a quiet, family only affair. I got to experience that for at least half the day…. I had told my husband that I didn’t want to go out for brunch, and I wanted to spend the day at home, relaxing with him and our daughter. He was excited about making brunch for me and spent at least a day planning the menu and gathering things he needed. As always, he went overboard, buying me 6 different bouquets of flowers (so sweet, I know) and spending four and a half hours making my brunch (did I mention what a slow cook he is?) Regardless, it was delicious and he put his heart and soul into it. I knew how much he wanted to make my first Mother’s Day special… which is partly why it hurts so much that my own mother successfully poisoned the last half of my special day.

It’s not the first time, but I keep hoping each time is the last. I stand at the end of a trail of ruined birthday parties, Christmases, graduations, and various special occasions that my mother has (intentionally?) brought to ruin. I should have known better, perhaps, but when it’s been a while I let my guard down. And that is always, always when she strikes.

It started earlier in the day when I called to wish her a happy Mother’s Day and she said, “Thank you,” which wasn’t immediately followed by “And Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!” In fact, those words never came. About five minutes into our conversation, she said, “This is your first Mother’s Day.” Yes… yes, I know… I clued into that fact, too. Still, no happy wishes for me, almost as if there was yet another invisible hurdle I had to pass to deserve that honor.

I knew then that there would be no card for me. No flowers. No gift. Nary an acknowledgment from Mommy Dearest.

She was supposed to come over at 3 pm, but called at 1:30 pm and said she wanted to come then. Surprisingly, and showing what might have been my only true insight of the day, I said she couldn’t come that early because we hadn’t had a chance to have our brunch yet. She was upset and nearly threatened not to come at all, but then thought better of it and said she’d be over after 3. Oh, how I wish she hadn’t come at all.

From the moment she showed up, she was complaining — about her life, her week, her day — how everything had been going badly for her and she’d been fighting with everyone from repair men to her loser boyfriend. There were a string of stories about her hanging up the phone on various people. Clearly, she hadn’t been getting along with anyone and I so desperately wanted to shout, “Can’t you see the problem is YOU?!” but I didn’t. I listened, even if half-heartedly, and tried to offer some solace.

I had gotten her a gorgeous card, written in it sweet nothings, and purchased a pewter frame with a flattering picture of her with my baby girl. She seemed to like it, but also noted that, “…it isn’t a Mother’s Day without flowers.” So, I told her she was welcome to take any of the flowers from my bouquets. That’s rich, isn’t it? She comes to my home empty-handed and complains about the gift I got her.

After nearly three hours of all this negativity (and me silently fuming that my first Mother’s Day wasn’t going to be acknowledged by her), something happened that was for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had my daughter on my lap and she “fell” backwards onto my legs as she is prone to do. I’m used to it and I always “catch” her (since she lands basically right in my lap). Both my husband and my mom thought she was going to tumble to the ground and reached for her. My daughter, startled, started crying hysterically at the commotion. At least, I thought it was because she was startled… until I saw two bright red, deep scratches on her little cheek. My mother’s long fingernails had lacerated her face. Internally, I completely lost it. Externally, I was pissed off but biting my tongue.

The thing that upset me even more was that she didn’t really seem appropriately remorseful or apologetic. She said she hadn’t done it on purpose, that she thought my baby was going to fall. I know that’s true… but I don’t know… she just didn’t seem sorry enough! Finally, I said to her, “See? Your negativity affects other people.” I know I shouldn’t have said it. I know that I was really upset about a lot of other things I’d been repressing, but hey, it came out how it came out. And I meant it. She got very upset and immediately grabbed her things to go. My husband tried to get her to stay (I don’t think he’d heard what I said at that point). I said, “don’t forget your gift,” and handed her her things and she said, “But I still want my flower!” And she grabbed a red rose from the vase on the dinner table and fled our home.

So, this afternoon, she calls me and says, “So, are you ready to apologize to me?” I laughed — because it genuinely caught me off guard. I said, “No, I don’t think so.” She tried to start arguing with me, but I said I was feeding my baby and didn’t want to talk right then. She informed me that she would be coming over to my house tomorrow. I told her I wasn’t ready to see her yet. She said, “You can’t keep my granddaughter away from me!” I explained that I wasn’t doing anything of the sort. “I’m coming over whether you like it or not!” she threatened. “That’s not how this works!” I said, feeling my anger rising. Then she said, “I’m coming over whether you like it or not, and if you don’t like it, you can call the police!”

I’m still in shock.
What. A. Fucking. Psycho.

I’m not sure what I’ll do if she really shows up and tries to bully her way into my home. The one thing I do know is that she no longer has the key. I called a locksmith as soon as I hung up the phone with her and our front door lock has already been changed. That was certainly $257 that I didn’t want to spend right now, but my peace of mind is worth so much more.

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House guests and fish…

You know that old 16th century saying about house guests and fish having something in common? They both start to stink after three days.

Well, I just need to let off a little steam before I go mad here! My in-laws have been here for 5 days and nights so far and my husband has been at work (working super long hours) for three out of the five days, which means I’ve been left to care for and tend to his parents. And, I’ve officially had it today. I’m tired. And for the second time this week, my incisions scars are really sore – which always puts me in a bad mood – and, incidentally, is a sign that I’ve been too active. I want my peaceful home back!

Every single dish in the sink or used glass left wherever anyone feels like it is just irritating me more and more now. Last night, I made dinner from scratch even though we had a refrigerator full of leftovers. Why? Because my father-in-law won’t eat leftovers as a rule. Wow, that must be really nice considering he can’t even make himself a sandwich and depends on others to feed him! Tonight was just the worst. I asked my husband to take care of dinner (which I knew would mean ordering out). I figured that would be simple enough. We suggested several options. His dad decided he wanted pizza and his mother decided she wanted Indian food and, get this, neither one of them budged. So we had to get pizza for him and Indian food for her, all on my dime, mind you! I was so annoyed that I could hardly eat anything.

Also, I’m now so very tired of hearing the same exaggerated stories about my husband for the twentieth time. No, Lady, he’s not a “genius” with an IQ that leaves the rest of us in the dust no matter how many times you tell me the same phony story, I’m not buying it. (Neither does my hubby, just for the record.) To hear her tell it, he was reciting Shakespeare at 6 months old and winning every music competition they ever entered him in. These stories were somewhat endearing the first ten times I heard them, but I’m simply over it now.

Then there’s the weird, bad grammar talk. They say things like, “Her so pretty.” “Her is tired.” “Her is a fussy baby.” It’s nails on a chalkboard to me. I asked my husband about it and he said it’s their idea of being cute or funny or whatever. I say, let’s teach our daughter how to speak correctly before we fuck it all up.

They bought her a toy monkey which they named “Willie” after a toy monkey my husband had when he was a kid. (I thought kids were supposed to name their own toys, but I guess not.) Anyway, our daughter does really like playing with the monkey and we sometimes call her “Monkey” because she’s so silly and cute. So, when we went Christmas shopping last week, my husband bought her another stuffed animal monkey — this one wears a pink dress and cannot possibly be referred to as “Willie” unless it’s short for Willemina. It’s a harmless thing, right? I mean, the monkeys aren’t in some kind of competition. Or maybe I have it all wrong? So, his mother takes the monkey we bought and holds it up to my daughter and says, “Oh, look… here’s another monkey. Hmm. This monkey’s cute I guess, but not nearly as cute as Willie! You love Willie, don’t you, honey?” Seriously? I mean, really?!

***

Okay, so that post got interrupted, too. And my in-laws actually left this morning after seven long days & nights at our house. Yay!

Last night was the worst. I asked my husband to pick up a couple of frozen burritos and enchiladas, since we had guacamole, salsa, and tortilla chips here. I figured we could make it a Mexican night. When he got home, he asked me to prepare everything while he got changed into is PJs. I did… with no help from anyone. I set the table and prepared the food. Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal. When we were done eating, his father thanked my husband for the meal and then his mother chimed in thanking him as well, with no sense of irony whatsoever. My husband, to his credit, told them they should be thanking me because I prepared the food (yeah, and paid for it and waited on them hand and foot for the last week, too!) They looked surprised, but perfunctorily thanked me, too. So rude!

I’m going to cut this post short now so that I can move on to something a lot more positive… like how 2012 has really been the best year of my life!

My kingdom for… SLEEP!

I was going to start this entry by writing, “I’m a bad blogger, but a good mom,” and then, right on cue, Samantha started screaming that inconsolable wail that infants produce when there’s nothing really wrong, but they’re tired and frustrated and have no idea what they really want. It’s exhausting… even more so than usual because I really haven’t slept much at all at night. My husband, who has a day off today is napping, after a full evening of sleep. Yep, I said NAPPING! I am in turns jealous and really pissed off. Why does everyone but me get to sleep?!

Times like these, I can feel the frustration welling up into tears. There are moments when my complete exhaustion feels too heavy a burden to bear. I hate letting her “cry it out” but sometimes I need to take a five to ten minute break. I am not a machine. Yet, I’m pretty much the only one there to console her when she gets super-fussy. My husband’s patience as a father hasn’t developed yet and he doesn’t like holding her when she screams (yeah, and I just love it, right?) Ok. I’m going to check on her now and see if I ever get back to finishing this post.

Oooh… I delayed by less than a minute, and judging by the monitor, the screaming has stopped! Oh, blessed miracle! I’ve achieved the elusive “crying herself to sleep” win! Here’s the dilemma. If I were smart (and a little less wound up at the moment) I would scurry under the covers myself and try that whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” golden standard of new parenthood… but that would mean that my somewhat lengthy list of things to do today (which include paying bills, sending out thank you notes, dying my badly-in-need-of-dying hair, and starting on sending out the birth announcements) would all have to be postponed to yet another probably unproductive day.

What the hell. I’m going to leave my freshly brewed cup of afternoon coffee (decaf) and my trusty laptop and give this whole sleep thing another shot. I need it sooooo badly today.

More “odds” than “ends”

Sometimes there’s a lot I want to talk about, but it doesn’t all go together. This is one of those posts!

So, I just read a snippet of Jesica’s blog “Just Smile and Blog” and I can 100% relate! She writes:

Normally I wouldn’t be one to put pictures of myself in my underwear up anywhere on the internet…or even a bikini… would never happen, but there’s something about this pregnant belly that makes your body feel like it’s not really YOUR body… and apparently that makes it ok.  Like it’s ok because I’m just this walking incubator right now NOT a real person.  This is not my real stomach, these are not my real boobs, IT ALL BELONGS TO BABY.  Hahaha, anyone else feel like this?  I know some people feel terribly unattractive and fat while they’re pregnant and I fully agree that in certain clothes I’m like UGH, am I really THAT wide?  But walking around in my underwear?  I feel really pretty and sexy and love my bump.

It’s only when I’m in clothing… and worse, have to go into the outside world that I start to feel big, fat, even unattractive at times. Like I’m supposed to look like a supermodel with a baby bump! But when I’m at home, or in my underwear, or naked walking into the shower… I feel beautiful! I just look at my belly and can’t stop smiling. I love the way it looks.

Just today, I thought… I should wear a bikini when I go swimming. (I haven’t worn a bikini since I was 15, mind you.) But there really is something about being pregnant – and maybe it is that it doesn’t completely feel like it’s my belly, that makes me love my body in a way I never did before. You know what? I’m not going to over think this. I’m just going to embrace it!

***

Next on the list of things to update is my mother-in-law. Remember about a month ago when she suggested we name our daughter Rhonda? And I was worried that calling the name “old-fashioned” might have offended her? Well… it looks like I can add her to the list of sensitive mothers. (So far, only my step-mother has succeeded in avoiding the list.)

My hubby calls his mom every Sunday on his way to work. Yesterday, she asked if we’d come up with a baby name yet. [I’ve decided that our pat answer to this should now be, “No, we’re waiting until she’s born.” Since that will probably be what happens anyway.]

He said we hadn’t and she went on to tell him just how much she still loves the name Rhonda…. “I know, Mom,” he says, and she proceeds to explain how it was such a shame that I didn’t like the name. “She said it was old!” his mother scoffs, and adds, “But I just think it’s so beautiful! Rhonda Lee.” (As if we needed to be reminded!) “Don’t worry, Mom, we’ll come up with something,” he tells her as he rushes to get off the phone.

I guess I need to learn how to lie a little more proficiently. Direct questions have always been my Achilles heel. Had she not asked, “Do you like the name?” I might have been able to swerve around the topic somehow. My husband is full of suggestions about what I could have said, but when lying (even white lies) is not in your nature, these glib retorts don’t roll off your tongue so easily.

He says she’s not offended, but I secretly think that when she’s not talking to us, she’s thinking, “I could have had a granddaughter named Rhonda if not for my meddling daughter-in-law!” Hahaha.

***

In other dramatic mother news…. I could call this “Crazy Mother part 3” but what’s the point? My mother, who is the craziest of them all, and the only person who can suck up all my energy in 2 seconds flat, is causing more problems and stress for me. So, what else is new?

Her new complaint is a doozy. I was talking to her last week (by which I mean that I was on the other end of the phone while she rattled off a long list of life-related complaints and chronicles of depression) when she said, “I’ve been meditating and I know now why I’m depressed.” “Why?” I asked partly out of boredom and partly out of duty. “We’ll talk about it another time,” she said, which – in my experience with her  signals a major red-flag warning – and I know I’ll be at the receiving end of said shit-storm. I groan. “Why? Is it something I did?” I reluctantly ask.

Finally, she gives in and says, “I feel that {insert step-mother’s name here} has replaced me as your mother!” I should have said, “Are you fucking kidding me, psycho?” But I actually said, “What?! What are you talking about?” And of course, I knew what was coming next. She’s the one who helped me plan the baby shower; she’s the one I turn to for advice on the party; she’s the one whose involved while my mother sits on the sidelines – blah, blah, blah.

This… coming from the woman who should be the one planning my baby shower, the woman to whom I gave every opportunity to help in even the smallest details and who categorically refused! I was livid and, in truth, ready for a fight. I reminded her that I had asked for her help and she had said, and I quote, “Can’t someone else do that?” And, so, someone else did! “But you didn’t even ask me if it was okay to go with her to pick out the things for the party rental,” she retorted, weakly. “I’m supposed to ask you for permission?” I said in a high-pitched, really getting pissed-off voice.

And a few minutes later, my agitated husband grabbed the phone and went to another room to have a word with my mother. Whatever else anyone can say about my husband, there’s no denying that he’s a diplomat of the highest order and a great, no, really GREAT bullshitter. And I mean that in the best possible way!

I really wanted a fight. I did. I was looking for an excuse to not talk to her for a long time (hell, any amount of time!) just so I could get some peace. But my husband was intent on putting out the flames. He explained to her that I was under a lot of stress and that whatever I feel, the baby feels (so, he does listen to me) and that keeping me calm was the most important thing for everyone to focus on right now. He did a lot of schmoozing for about 20 minutes before my mom finally calmed down. I was grateful… but still kind of regretted not getting that break I was looking forward to!

***

Well, that’s about it for my mad-cap adventures this week. Someday I will hopefully internalize the truism that you can’t make everyone happy. It is verifiably impossible. Maybe someday I’ll also learn not to let it all stress me out so much!

Did I say I wasn’t hormonal? (rambling)

Oh, man… wouldn’t you know it? I spoke waaaay too soon about that whole not-being-hormonal thing. I started noticing a general irritability yesterday, but shrugged it off to being on the phone with the IRS for an hour (who wouldn’t be stressed out?!) and to starting my new part-time job (that really doesn’t seem like it’s going to have the hours I will need to make a dent in my finances). Okay, as I’m typing this, I can see that I had reason to feel anxious yesterday. I also had to withdraw several thousand dollars from my savings (which I loathe doing) to pay for property taxes. And then my 75 year old mother called complaining of aches, pains, and general confusion. I can see her deteriorating in front of my eyes and it’s scary – mainly because I’m an only child and taking care of her will soon be my responsibility – and I’m truly not equipped to do that on any level at this point in my life.

Where I started to lose it a little was with my husband – and that’s really unfair because he deserves it the least out of anybody in my life! Recently, his work decided to pay for a 6-month membership to 24-Hour Fitness for all its employees and their spouses (why this couldn’t have come after the baby, no one knows.) At any rate, he usually gets off work around midnight and a group of the guys go workout after that, which means it’s often 2:30 a.m. or later when he gets home. That means I don’t get to see him [insert major pout here]. What really bugs me is when he says he’s only going to work out for half an hour and then he gets home 3 hours later! Because I’m such a codependent loving wife, I usually go to bed early and then wake up to spend time with him when he comes home. (This has the side benefit of making me super-cranky due to interrupted sleep.)

And I just have this thing about sleeping with him beside me. It’s one of the perks of marriage to which I feel entitled… and, I just plain have a hard time falling asleep without him. So, I got really irritated with him right when he got home and woke me up – with a kiss, no less – that’s the hormonal part, I usually have better timing! I told him I couldn’t trust his word (eek, I laid it on thick) and couldn’t believe anything he said anymore. To his credit, he was very apologetic and sweet and I kind of got over it after a while. At around 4 a.m., I just had to go back to bed and he promised he’d be there “soon.” I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to an empty bed and went looking for him only to find him in the kitchen, stuffing his face with food. “I’ll be right there.” he said when I asked why he wasn’t in bed yet. So, I went back to bed, still feeling irritated. I woke up again at 7 a.m. and was just livid to find he still hadn’t come to bed! I marched right into the living room, turned off the fireplace and shut off all the lights and yanked him into the bedroom. I was really upset and kept telling myself that I couldn’t rely on any of his promises.

He was all cute & snuggly when he woke up at the crack of noon and it’s really difficult to be mad at him when he’s being adorable. I had been up for hours working, but he insisted I get back into bed so we could cuddle – which, incidentally, he loves to do even more when he’s running behind schedule. Go figure!

Sometime before he left for work, he was on the phone with a coworker and, I should preface this by explaining that my husband frequently uses the terms “honey,” “sweetheart,” etc. when dealing with oh, just about anyone. I don’t like it but have learned that it doesn’t mean anything and it’s just a part of his personality, so I mainly just ignore it (or make fun of him by exaggerating & mimicking him – a common tactic in this household). He does know, however, after years of arguments and negotiating that certain words are off limits. For example, he cannot call anyone “honey-bear” as that is reserved exclusively for ME. I feel the same way about the word “Baby.” So, imagine my hormone induced horror when I heard him say, “Goodbye, Baby” as he hung up the phone!

I completely lost it. I was screaming bloody murder and sobbing in an instant. I accused him of breaking all his promises to me. (A bit melodramatic, I admit.) Inside, it felt like I had walked in on him making out with another woman. I know it sounds crazy, but it physically hurt me so badly, and I knew he couldn’t understand the first thing about how I was feeling. He tried to calm me down by shouting at me to calm down. Does that ever work? I yelled so loud my throat hurt. I slammed doors. I went through half a box of Kleenex until something clicked inside him that told him he needed to back down from this one. Only when his tone was sincerely apologetic and soothing did I calm down, but this deep well of sadness just seemed to be opening up and I couldn’t get out of it. I knew I was overreacting in a major way. Believe me when I say I was completely powerless to stop it. This awful rage just had to come out completely before it would let me rest.

Afterwards I was tired, dazed, and maudlin. He was really late for work by then, and I had to help him gather his things (which is what I normally do, set out his clothes, assemble his gym things, etc.) He kept asking if I was going to be okay. I told him I hoped I would be. He continued to apologize. (You have no idea how rare this is for my husband!) At one point, I just couldn’t hold back another wave of tears and he came over to hold me. And I started laughing and crying at the same time… a lot of both, actually. He said, “Are you laughing? And crying!? Why are you laughing?” “Because you’re so late and you’re having to console me!” I said.

“Honey, do you think any of this might be hormonal?” he asked gently.