Musings of a Motherless Mother on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has come and gone, another Hallmark holiday meant to guilt-trip the neglectful – perhaps spoken like a person whose mother (and mother-in-law) is long gone. It’s nice to be recognized throughout the year, not just on major or minor holidays. Do we really need sappy commercials to remind us that somewhere, sometime, someone was there to push the slimy being you once were out into the brave new world?

I’m sometimes annoyed when I hear people talking about their mothers in disparaging terms. They may have their problems, be eccentric, weird, dysfunctional, heartless, or abusive. They may wear miniskirts and push-up bras when you might wish they would choose something more demure. God forbid, they might like your bands, your sports, and your movies. They may drone on and on and on, repeating the same stories you’ve heard forever until you think the muscles in your face could cringe no more. They may be physically unwell or emotionally crippling.

Or they could be like mine, taking up space under a shady tree in a Fountain, Colorado cemetery. Or like my mother-in-law, whose ashes are on a shelf in my basement.

Though I have no mothers left in my life, I happen to be one, blessed with two children of my own. While they would describe me as a “mean” mom (or clueless, embarrassing, stupid, or hopelessly out of date, among other descriptors), they won’t know the depth of my feelings toward them until they become parents themselves.

That’s how it was for me.

Mothers aren’t perfect humans, although many of them strive to be. My own mother was the least perfect person I knew. If my husband’s mother had known her, she would have thought her to be incredibly selfish and mentally unbalanced. Her life was hers, and never once did it revolve around her children. My mother-in-law was the exact opposite; she lived and breathed through her children and mine. She bent over backward in the opposite direction in an attempt to be the perfect mother and grandmother.

I had hoped to find a happy medium, but it’s easy to get swept into the lives of your spawn. After all, it’s through them that you witness a new germination of hopes and dreams, dreams you were either too busy or too lazy to see to fruition for yourself. There were dance recitals, sports, music competitions, cheerleading, scouts, gymnastics, scholastic achievements, art classes, and more. Motherly pride got quite a workout in those days. Perhaps I felt a need to make up for all the parent-teacher conferences my own mother never attended.

As it happens all too often, somewhere along the way it became un-cool to have such an attentive mother. It’s sometimes un-cool to have any mother at all. So like many mothers, I faded to the background of my children’s lives, only to emerge for culinary or monetary emergencies. Besides, they’re adults now.

My favorite book growing up was Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, and my favorite passage was “On Children.”

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

This passage carried me through my turbulent teen years and a strained relationship with my own mother. When I was 16, I read this to her in an attempt to get her to look at my perspective. She thought it was the most onerous thing ever written. Like a lot of mothers of her era, she believed in the exact opposite. Children were your property and responsibility to be molded and beaten into shape, not given opportunities for discovery.

Mothers are the building blocks for life, not the entire foundation. They hold an important role, one that deserves respect, but at some point the child has to take a step up and away. I know many people who blame their mothers for the life they have today. Children should be able to learn from the missteps of their parents as well as from their success. You can only levy so much of your circumstance on your mother; the rest is up to you.

On this motherless Mother’s Day, I didn’t wait for phone calls or presents from my faraway kids. My day was already planned from dawn to dusk with things I wanted to do.

I’m too far away to have visited my mother’s grave last Sunday (coincidentally her birthday), but I think I’ll get my mother-in-law a new urn.

And I’ll open up The Prophet and have a cup of tea.

SAD No More, But Still a Procrastinator

Many of you have considered me missing in action. I admit, I have been.

If you think that the past few weeks were full of progress and hard work, you’d be dead wrong.

My name is Pandemonic, and I am a slacker. Show me a 12-step program, please.

At least I had a good time! (I believe this was the argument I gave myself in my 20s when I was enjoying the late 1970s by partying a bit hard.)

The most wondrous thing that happened was when the sun came up about two weeks ago and with the exception of a few rainy days, has been glorious out ever since.

Hip, hip, hooray! My SAD has disappeared!

Of course, with the advent of pleasant weather and sunshine, comes the overdoing. It’s been a long, tough winter here in the Tundra, folks. On the first day over 40 degrees, the local restaurants were carving out space on the sidewalks and getting the market umbrellas out of storage. Such actions proved premature, especially since the temps dipped back into the low 30s that night.

Still, the People of the Tundra embrace spring and summer. We’re glad for whatever sunshine comes our way. I’ve been out in the yard trying to figure out the extension of my Asian garden, pulling weeds, wrestling with grapevines, raking, you get the picture.

On rainy days, when I’ve not been glued to the Scramble board on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter, I’ve been busy making jewelry. In fact, I’ll probably catalog and Etsy my creations, because 1. I don’t have that many friends where I need this stuff to gift as presents and 2. I enjoy making it, so I am probably not going to stop in the near future. Being an artsy-craftsy type person is part of my being. Working with my hands is relaxing.

All of this outside-inside activity speaks for one thing: I am still a world-class procrastinator when it comes to my editing and writing.

But, there is some book/writing news. After eliminating all of the -LY adverbs from my book — which took much longer than I had anticipated —  and taking out a chapter and a half, I’m still left with over 167K words. I tried to refashion the first few chapters, but gave up. Slashing is not the answer here. A major transplant is in order.

I have begun to rewrite the entire first third of the book.

This is starting from scratch. My finished novel is dark and sad. It’s hard to write dark, sad, depressing stories when one is reveling in the splendor of Spring. I have to get in the proper mood, so to find my way there, I wrote a short story of dark and depressing circumstances.

This helped, but that damned sunlight beckoned.

In the meantime, I had a dream about a third book. Uh, oh, you might be thinking. Can’t she finish one project before starting another?

Well, I finished the first epic tome, so YES, I can. However, it took a lot of berating from my writing friend cheerleaders, a commitment to NaNoWriMo, and self-inflicted flogging to get to those magic words “The End.”

However, after my third novel dream, I began to worry. I do want to finish all of these projects. And I’m no spring chicken, much as spring is my season.

I’m going to have to get off my lazy butt and start working.

So if you see even less of me here, that’s the reason why.

Gah! Tearing My Hair Out!

For those of you bemoaning my lack of presence here (or not) it’s not that I don’t like you (or love you), because I really do. I’m up to my eyeballs in work, and trying to get those damnedable first four or five chapters re-written.

I spent Monday and Tuesday of last week poring over the sentences, barely able to take anything out but adverbs. That’s because my protagonist is an intelligent person, but her brains have been reduced to ditziness after 20 odd years of marriage. It’s hard to convey those abstract qualities in few words.

Wednesday I came to my senses. Though I had eliminated 5K worth of adverbs and “thats” 170K words is about 50K too many. I took to the knife and wacked out entire chunks, paragraphs falling to the wayside willy and nilly.

Re-reading my weeding, I couldn’t make any sense of it.

I took a step back on Friday and Saturday due to nice weather. Since a week’s worth of rain was in the forecast, I had to get in grape vine pruning and raking during the two good days I had available.

By Saturday night, I was feeling quite irritated with the whole thing.  I really want to get my portion of the re-write completed by the end of May, and that’s going to be tough since 1. I’m a world class procrastinator and 2. I’m lazy. “Daunting” is not a strong enough adjective to describe this task.

In addition, there’s some truth to be said for the fact that writers are often weary of their work, especially during the re-write process. Then Saturday night, I had a dream about my book, which is good. I woke up at 3 a.m. and began to think.

Such a revelation means only one thing: I’m going to have to re-write the entire first 13 chapters from scratch, taking bits and pieces from the 50K or more words I have written to describe the first part of this journey.

So, if you’re wondering where I am, I’ll be up to my eyeballs in angst.

Preparing for My First Recital

My violin teacher has decided to include me in her June recital.

This is momentous! For the last four years, she has tried to tamp down my enthusiasm for playing with others. True, I’m a slow study, but the ambition is there.

I plan on playing some Bartok dances. My husband might accompany me, even though he cannot stand Bartok. Most Bartok doesn’t bother me; in fact, I studied it when I took piano many years ago.

The weird thing is that I’m getting a little nervous. It’s not that the piece is hard; it’s easy. It’s not like I’m playing in front of a hall full of people; we will be entertaining at a nursing home about two blocks from my house. It’s where my teacher’s husband currently resides. He’s 92 years old, fell down a while back and is unable to move himself.

I’ve played nursing homes before. In fact, my church group in high school used to go every Saturday and play guitar. When Ms. MiniD was still here playing flute, she did the same.

Nursing home audiences are grateful for the break in the usual schedule. Sometimes you wonder if they are cognizant of what’s going on around them.

This is a perfect group to practice my chops on. Most of them can’t chase us out of the building, and that’s good.


Lost in Translation and a Few Other Places Chapter 1

When I last left WordPress, I was suffering from a terrible neck pain. My subsequent visit to the doctor pumped me full of muscle relaxers and pain medication. This did NOT work, much to my dismay. My appointment with the physical therapist isn’t until next week.

I spent a week in torture, and then more torture occurred. I was felled by a cold, a really bad one. My #2 contracted one from her boyfriend, and seeing that she was sniffling and sneezing for three weeks straight, there was no way to avoid her germs. There’s nothing worse than having a head full of boogers whilst one cannot turn said head to the right.

As a result of my assembled maladies, I became lazy beyond belief.  No, really, I am not exaggerating. I haven’t looked at my now-completed novel in a month. Instead of writing, I played on Twitter and Facebook. I think I am even “getting” Twitter now.  However, it wasn’t really playing… I logged on in bed and then promptly fell asleep. That’s what a combination of Nyquil and Flexoril will do for you.

All of this uncomfortableness caused me to seek another trip to the doctor this week. She sent me for X-rays, and a couple of days later I learned that I have developed minor arthritis in my vertebrae not far from where my neck is located.

I knew I was getting old, but to be slapped in the face with arthritis is the wakeup call. I restarted my stalled exercise of Malibu Pilates, purchased a huge bottle of glucosamine chondroitin from Sam’s Club and started taking the dog for afternoon strolls.

I thought long and hard about dying, which is something I do on a regular basis anyway. When you’re over the hill and coasting downward, you want to get in everything before the final farewell.

So, I am now reformed and on my way to productivity and creativity.

In the meantime, there has been a little drama going on with the Drunk Manager, which I will get to as soon as I send a care package off to Ms. MiniD. All it takes is one email titled “Moooommmmmyyyyyy!!!” and I’m there.

A Pain in the Neck

I have a referral for the physical therapist, because I have a pain in my neck.

Said pain developed after going to the writers’ conference. For three days, I schlepped my bag around, which contained a computer, business cards, phone, credit card, pens and plenty of synopsis (synopses?) of my book. My bag weighed about 15 pounds.

I have a recurring neck problem, and I’m not supposed to carry anything bigger than a small wallet. This was hard to do when first ordered by my doctor. In the good old days of good necks (and other younger things), I used to carry a purse the size of a small suitcase. My cell phone was one of those enormous monster flip phones, and I had to have snacks, ready change, napkins, sunglasses, etc. My kids were younger, so it doubled as a diaper bag. This way I would only have one bag and not two.

My current choice for purse is one of those small organizer things that looks like a wallet with a long shoulder strap. I have a closet full of those. For most days, I just need a license, a credit card, my checkbook and a pen. Oh, and my cell phone, but I’ve taken to putting that in my pocket, now that I don’t have a Blackberry.

I came back from the conference a month ago, but I’ve been putting off the doctor visit until this week. That’s because 1. I don’t like going and 2. our insurance sucks. But on Friday, I had to make an appointment. That’s because I couldn’t turn my head to the right. Being so crippled makes it difficult to drive. It’s also painful.

So now I have to go to the physical therapist, because massive doses of drugs and muscle relaxers aren’t doing anything. Oh, and the heating pad makes it feel better, but not for long.

I knew a psychologist who explained that when people complain of aches and pains, it related directly to their life and may not be so much to their body.  If your shoulders ache, it may be because you feel like you have the world’s problems on your shoulders. Therefore a “pain in the neck” really means that something in my life is figuratively a pain in the neck.

I can think of a thousand things that are “paining” me in the neck right now, but I doubt the physical therapist will help me with that.

My In-House Nostradamus

This post was rather a downer. Sorry.

It could be because Mr. Demonic and I spent the time hashing out the current state of affairs. We don’t stay long on the Demonic household, because our state of affairs, while wobbly, is better than many others. What Mr. D is concerned about is the general state of affairs, in our rust-bucketed Tundra state and in the country and world.

I used to laugh at Mr. D’s predictions. Partly because some of the things he thinks about are really out there. But he’s been right more times than he’s been wrong, so now I am a convert. Besides, it’s nice to have an in-house Nostradamus as a barometer in these difficult times.

Lest you think I’m making stuff up (true, on occasion I make stuff up), I will list some of the things he got right:

1. The fall of the stock market. He’s known that for a couple of years. I didn’t believe him, but then again, I don’t study the market as much as he does. He believes in cyclical natures of economy.

2. The fall of the housing market. Not long after we purchased our house for a big vat of money, Mr. D told me that the market was dropping and that in a few years we would not be able to get one-half what we paid for it. True, we bought the thing right at the peak of the boom. Some of you might remember a post I made on another social networking site about two years ago.  He predicted then that after a time, our house would be worthless.

He’s not quite right, but we were just barely able to refinance it last month.

His next predictions? Here they are:

1. Our children will be saddled with incredible debt, resulting in their standard of living being less than what they’re used to.

2. The government will end up owning everything. (I can expand on that later, but I really don’t want to think about it.)

3. We’ll have to work until we die.

4. At some point there will be martial law. (I’m really hoping that one does NOT come true.)

5. Before martial law, there’ll be civil unrest. The truly disadvantaged are going to commit crimes to survive. There’s already some of that going on here.

Hmm… sometimes I wish he’d have visions of lollypops and rainbows. It would make sleeping at night a whole lot easier.