Friday, October 21, 2005

Kvetch Central

Last Tuesday when we thought the cycle wasn't going to happen, we also thought we were giving away Chloe to Partner's aunt that day. The entire day, although gorgeous, felt pretty bleak. And what does one do when things are bleak? Well, if you are me, you call your mother.

My mother and I-- pretty close-- and I'll talk to her about most things. We certainly had a our rough patches, especially in high school where I regrettably would refer to her as "my father's wife." People thought my parents were divorced and my mother was the proverbial evil step mother. This line of thinking was reinforced by the fact that there are 7 and 10 years respectively between my brothers and me. I chaffed against her: if she defined as a feminist, then I most certainly was not. If she leaned more left, I leaned more right. Thankfully, I went away to college and was able to self-define instead of defining myself in opposition to her.

As I aged, I realized that my biggest ally and fan was my mother. We talk almost every day. My mother has theories about daughters and sons: A daughter will always remain close whereas a son will leave. I don't think it's a truth universally known, as Ms. Austen might say, but her theory played out in our family, at least for a short while when both of my dear darling brothers moved to New Orleans for a number of years. (They are back home in the Great Lake State now, but still don't ring up Mom quite as much as I do.)

But last week when I called my mom, she couldn't talk. She happens to be at their beach house , a place I desperately wish I was right now. Last year I went for a week in October, and loved it. I decided I wanted to be there every October, but alas, this year the world had other plans for me. In any case, her friend Maggie and Maggie's mother were coming over for dinner. She couldn't talk. I was crying-- trying to hide it, and she realized it. "I'll call you back as soon as they're gone. I am sure they won't stay late."

But. She didn't call. Not Tuesday night anyway. Not Wednesday, not Thursday. She called my mobile phone when I was at the bar with A and B. I didn't answer. I was pretty pissed and hurt. In fact, when I think of it now, I still feel angry. A few months ago I tried to tell her I felt a little hurt she never asked about my life. She would get on the phone and tell me about her painting (she's brilliant, by the way), her friends, my brothers, the dog, etc-- but never asked about my life. Her reaction to this was anger-- total denial, and she told me that I was always crying about something. "I'm never good enough for you, Katie. You're a hard woman."

Hard? Moi? I am many things, but I really don't think hard is an apt description. Jesus, even my body is not hard. And it's not true that she's never good enough for me. I have some pretty big motherhood shoes to fill. She was and is an awesome mom.

So this lack of a return call-- I didn't feel after our last conversation I could tell her how I felt. I dont' want to be accused of crying about something again, or accused calling her a bad mother. That's not it. So I called her back on Sunday. I made some comments that let her know that I was upset she hadn't rang. Now I know she had guests staying with her Wednesday through Sunday, but to me this does not preclude a phone call. She kinda took the hint: "Well I've had stuff going on too," she said. Then she proceeded to talk ad nauseum about about my youngest brother's MCAT scores and his chances of gaining entrance to his top choices. I ended the phone call soon after that. "Mom, my eggs are here; I can't talk anymore." Never mind we hadn't even entered the restaurant yet.

Ah: I bitch about my mother as I harbor hopes of becoming one myself. If this isn't irony, I don't know what is.

I've talked to her numerous times since Sunday, per our usual m.o. I listened to her tell me about the stuff that prevented her from calling me back. I agree, it was pretty annoying stuff. A guest who was critical of her home decor, essentially, and was that way the entire time. Now I had a friend once who would come to our house and be openly critical, and it wasn't nice, but that's all it was. I have sympathy for the situation, but little sympathy for why she couldn't be calling me back. I mean, I was crying!

On Sunday, Partner and I talked about all the reasons she might not seem so invested in this journey of ours. Perhaps she ambivalant about becoming a grandmother? It runs in the family. My own gramma made me call her Kit for a few years; she wanted nothing to do with the moniker "Grandmother". Maybe all this is making my mother feel old? Maybe she's uncomfortable with our science baby? Maybe she doesn't want to feel that invested in case it doesn't work? Maybe she feels we should just be adopting? (A question she has asked.) Maybe she thinks this is a silly waste of money when we're tight anyway? I don't know what she's thinking. But I don't know because she isn't talking about it. She's talking about everything but it.

There's not one little bone in me that doesn't know my mom loves me entirely. I'm pretty sure she would throw herself in front of a train for me. Metaphorically she already has many times in my life. It's not that I don't feel loved. Or know that I am loved. I'm just, well, hurt. This feels pretty damn near the biggest thing I have ever attempted in my life. I've already expounded about how much I want this. I wonder why my mom doesn't talk to more about this than where my own brother might choose to have his wedding reception or where the other will end up in med school. Or about the new plantation shutters she'd ordered for the beach house. I listen to her, but in the back of my head I just keep thinking baby IVF baby IVF baby IVF baby IVF baby IVF baby.

Okay-- and are you ready for really bratty Katie? Tomorrow is my birthday, and of course, my parents are out of town. I've thinking to myself about how sometimes my mom really surprises me, so I've imagined packages being delivered to the house tomorrow, or flowers, or something like that. Instead, my dad called me on Wednesday night asking if I was coming over to their house. (My dad was at home this past week to work.) My parents live at least 45 minutes away from us, so, um, no, I was not coming over. Was I supposed to? "Well," he said, "I've got your birthday present here. You'll have to come by and pick it up." *Narrowing eyes.* Okay, okay-- I'm turning thirty-three and one could argue that I shouldn't even be concerned with such things any longer. But pick it up? Pick it up?!?

And I know that my annoyance with this is more related to this other stuff. I know that not everyone cares about this shit. It's just so many details, but... but... but...

So, there it is: my giant kvetch. And just so you know how dutifully Catholic I am: I feel total guilt for complaining about my mother who gave up so much for all of us kids. How ungrateful am I?

As my mother would say, I'll regreat this when she's dead. And gone. And in the grave.


Blogger Trista said...

I have a relationship with my mother that has many similarities to yours. And I was also upset that my mother seemed supremely uninterested in my and Kristin's struggle to have a child. But that all changed once we actually got pregnant. She was just trying not to jump on the rollercoaster with us because she didn't feel that she could handle it herself. Was I disappointed? Hell yeah. Is it forgotten? Hell No. Is it forgiven? Of course.

I'm sorry she's not being more of a support for you during this time. I really hope it changes once you get pregnant, if not before.

(I've still got my fingers crossed for you two and the 8 little ones)

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Liza said...

I've struggled a lot with my relationship with my parents, up to and including TTC.

The one thing I've found that works for me, is when I'm upfront with them about what I want. I wish I didn't have to spell it out sometimes, and sometimes I find it completely bizarre that they don't "get it." Whatever the it is at the time.

But my lovely wife and I have taken to jokingly reminding each other that 'wrong as it is, they just aren't gonna read your mind.'

They haven't immediately started doing what I wish they would do. They're still leaving the country for 3 weeks, 2 days before my due date.

But I feel a helluva lot better that I spoke up for myself and told them what I wanted.

And sometimes, it *has* produced the results I wanted. For example, Mom is having a shower for us, and it is on the same scale as the wedding shower she had for my straight sister this summer.

Incidently, FWIW, something did shift for Mom when she saw me visibly pregnant for the first time. She's a lot more engaged in this of her own volition than she was when we were TTC or in the early stages of being pregnant.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

I feel the same way about my mother. And I don't think my father has ever asked what we are going through (of course I don't think he's talking to me right now anyway). And I hope you birthday present is fabulous. I love birthdays.

3:52 PM  
Blogger LilySea said...

I'm not ever so close to my mother. But when I first told her we were adopting she yelled at me and told me I shouldn't have kids because they ruin your life. We didn't speak for about 6 weeks.

I think it was the grandmother/aging thing. She's fine about it now, though. Great even. She loves being a grandmother.

10:44 PM  

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